David Fairclough

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David Fairclough
Fairclough in 2008
Personal information
Date of birth (1957-01-05) 5 January 1957 (age 63)
Place of birth Liverpool, England
Height 6 ft 0 in (1.83 m)
Playing position(s) Striker
Youth career
1973–1975 Liverpool
Senior career*
1975–1983 Liverpool 98 (34)
1982Toronto Blizzard 20 (4)
1983–1985 Luzern 40 (8)
1985 Manchester City 0 (0)
1985 Norwich City 2 (0)
1985–1986 Oldham Athletic 17 (1)
1986 Rochdale 0 (0)
1986–1989 Beveren 70 (14)
1989–1990 Tranmere Rovers 14 (1)
1990–1991 Wigan Athletic 7 (1)
National team
1976 England U21 1 (0)
* Senior club appearances and goals counted for the domestic league only

David Fairclough (born Liverpool, 5 January 1957) is an English retired footballer, most famous for playing for Liverpool as a striker during the 1970s and 1980s.


Life and playing career

Known affectionately as Supersub (because he was a talented goalscorer who, in comparison with other players, rarely started matches for Liverpool - but frequently came into the match as a substitute to make an impact), Fairclough was born in inner city Liverpool and as a child moved to the new Cantril Farm housing estate in the 1960s due to slum clearances. He rose through the Liverpool ranks as a teenager and made his debut for the club on 1 November 1975 in the 1–0 league win over Middlesbrough at Ayresome Park. [1] As the season progressed, Fairclough scored seven crucial goals in just 14 appearances to land Liverpool the League championship. Nine of these appearances were as substitute. His first goal for the club came three days after his debut on 4 November 1975, during the 6–0 defeat of Spanish side Real Sociedad at Anfield in a UEFA Cup 2nd round 2nd leg tie. [2]

The pecking order of strikers at the club saw Fairclough trailing behind the 'dream duo' of Kevin Keegan and John Toshack, as well as England centre forward David Johnson. In the 1976-77 season, Fairclough made more appearances as a substitute, because of a succession of injuries to Toshack.

His most famous Liverpool goal came at Anfield as a substitute in a crucial European Cup quarter final against the French side St Etienne. Liverpool had been a goal adrift from the first leg in France, and when they went 2–1 up in the home return, the aggregate score was level at 2–2 but St Etienne led on the away goals rule. Liverpool's manager Bob Paisley sent Fairclough on in the last 20 minutes of the game and with six minutes remaining, Fairclough ran on to a long ball upfield and held off two St Etienne defenders to score the tie's decisive goal at the Kop end. ITV commentator Gerald Sinstadt famously bellowed: "Supersub strikes again!" [3]

Liverpool won the League title again and reached both the FA Cup final at Wembley and the European Cup final in Rome. Fairclough was not selected for the Wembley squad as Paisley named veteran winger Ian Callaghan as the substitute, and Liverpool lost to Manchester United. However, he was a substitute in Rome as Liverpool won 3–1.

The following season, Fairclough scored a goal in each leg as Liverpool thrashed Keegan's Hamburg 7–1 on aggregate in the European Super Cup. Liverpool reached the European Cup final again and this time Fairclough started the match. A 1–0 victory over Bruges retained the trophy for Liverpool. He managed 29 league appearances that season, scoring 10 goals, but the Reds were beaten to both the league title and the Football League Cup by newly promoted Nottingham Forest under Brian Clough.

In 1978–79, Liverpool regained their league championship crown but Fairclough did not play enough games to seal another title medal, as he had played just four times in the league, scoring twice.

Fairclough scored his only Liverpool hat-trick on 9 February 1980 in the thrilling 5–3 league victory over Norwich City at Carrow Road. His goals came in the 4th, 18th and 75th minutes, with Kenny Dalglish and Jimmy Case scoring to guarantee a late win for the Reds. However, Fairclough's league chances were again restricted that season, as he played just 14 league games and scored five goals. He came on as a substitute in the League Cup semi final second leg against Nottingham Forest four days after his hat trick at Norwich, and scored a late equaliser to preserve Liverpool's long two-year unbeaten run at Anfield. Even though Liverpool went out on aggregate to Forest, Fairclough's goal helped create an English record of eighty five unbeaten matches in succession at home.[ citation needed ]

Fairclough spent another five years at Anfield, although in what was a golden era for the club, he was rarely in the first team. He was a prolific scorer in the reserves, but the phenomenal partnership of Dalglish and Ian Rush rendered him surplus to first team requirements. In the 1982–83 season he scored three times in eight league appearances but failed to play enough games to merit a title medal. He had also failed to make the squad for the League Cup victories of the previous two seasons, and in the 1981–82 season, when the Reds won another league title as well as the League Cup, he did not play a single first team game.

The Supersub tag belied the number of first team starts Fairclough made at Liverpool; of his 153 appearances, only 61 were from the bench. He scored 55 goals (34 of them in the league), averaging a goal every 2.8 games. [4]

Fairclough left Liverpool on 4 July 1983 after a loan spell at NASL side Toronto Blizzard. He then moved to the Swiss side FC Lucerne before returning to England for spells with Manchester City, Norwich, Oldham Athletic and Rochdale. He moved overseas once more to Belgium club Beveren for three seasons before returning home for stints with Tranmere Rovers and Wigan Athletic. He ended his playing days at non-league Knowsley. [5]

Later life and legacy

Fairclough now works as a pundit and also on the after-dinner circuit, he also writes a weekly column on the official Liverpool Football Club web-site.

Fairclough is still a firm favourite amongst the Anfield faithful and was voted in at No.18 on the 2006 poll 100 Players Who Shook The Kop. The poll was conducted by the Reds official web-site, 110,000 supporters worldwide took part listing their favourite 10 Liverpool players of all-time.

Fairclough's 18th place was higher than John Toshack's 34th and David Johnson's 77th positions, two of the players that prevented Fairclough from gaining more Liverpool appearances.

Fairclough was married to Jan Fairclough who died on 9 April 2011. Jan collapsed suddenly on the morning of 6 April of a brain haemorrhage and died 3 days later. A minute of silence was held for Jan (as well as the 96 Hillsborough victims and Mark Burgan, a soldier from Liverpool) at Anfield before a Liverpool vs. Manchester City match on 11 April 2011. Fairclough and Jan have two children, Tom and Sophie.

Fairclough suffered a minor heart attack on 3 October 2010, at the age of 53, but made a full recovery.


Liverpool [4]

Tranmere Rovers

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  1. "Middlesbrough 0 – 1 Liverpool". LFCHistory.net. Retrieved 27 June 2017.
  2. LFChistory.net. "Matchdetails from Liverpool - Real Sociedad played on Tuesday 4 November 1975 - LFChistory - Stats galore for Liverpool FC!". www.lfchistory.net. Retrieved 26 June 2017.
  3. "Dave Fairclough – Interview | Read The League". readtheleague.com. Retrieved 27 June 2017.
  4. 1 2 "Liverpool career stats for David Fairclough". www.lfchistory.net. Retrieved 27 June 2017.
  5. "David Fairclough - Don't call him a super ***". lfchistory.net. Retrieved 12 June 2019.
  6. "BRISTOL ROVERS 1 V TRANMERE ROVERS 2". trscireland.info. Archived from the original on 24 April 2017. Retrieved 11 June 2019.