Player profile

David Fairclough

David Fairclough

Birthdate: 5 January 1957
Birthplace: Liverpool, England
Other clubs: Toronto Blizzard (loan 1982), Luzern (1982-85), Norwich City (1985), Oldham Athletic (1985-86), Beveren (1986-89), Tranmere Rovers (1989-90), Wigan Athletic (1990-91)
Bought from: Local
Signed for LFC: Joined 1972 - Professional 09.01.1974
International caps: u-21 1/0 cap/goal
Liverpool debut: 01.11.1975
Last appearance: 16.04.1983
Debut goal: 04.11.1975
Last goal: 09.04.1983
Contract expiry: 04.07.1983
Win ratio: 53.9% W:83 D:40 L:31
Games/goals ratio: 2.8
Honours: League Championship 1975-66, 1976-77, 1979-80; League Cup 1983; European Cup 1977, 1978; UEFA Cup 1976
Total games/goals opposite LFC: 2 / 2
LFC league games/goals: 98 / 34
Total LFC games/goals: 154 / 55

Player profile

Local boy Fairclough exploded onto the football scene as a 19-year-old to add some fresh impetus to Liverpool's neck-and-neck challenge with QPR for the First Division Championship in 1976. In as much the same way as Ronnie Rosenthal's arrival gave an unpredictable boost to the crucial final leg of the 1989/90 season, Fairclough's seven goals from two starts and six substitute appearances were a big factor in Liverpool finally overhauling the Londoners in the final match of the season. The highlight was a mazy, fantastic run from the half-way line with two minutes to go in the Anfield derby on Grand National day which turned an early kick-off goalless draw into a priceless victory. As one of his colleagues said at the time: 'He didn't know himself what he was going to do, so how could we know?' Fairclough was living the dream as he told LFChistory.net. "I grew up about half a mile from the ground and I went to school just 500-600 yards away from the stadium. Anfield was very much my patch. I played football in the streets. Comic book stuff really. I remember standing in the street where we lived listening to the crowd in the Inter Milan game in '65. I was only eight and my dad didn't allow me to go to that game. We knew obviously the game was going Liverpool's way and you could hear them singing. We lived literally in the shadows of Anfield." It was hard for Fairclough to break up the Keegan/Toshack partnership which was well-established but the Welshman's injury problems did give him a number of opportunities in the second part of the following season when Liverpool were competing for honours at home and abroad. However, there were only a further five goals from 17 starts and 13 substitute appearances.

On 16 March 1977 came the biggest moment in Fairclough's career. The Reds were trailing by the away goal to the French champions Saint Etienne with time running out in a frenzied atmosphere at Anfield in the European Cup quarter-final. Fairclough had come on as substitute for Toshack in the seventy-fourth minute and with six minutes to go he latched on to Ray Kennedy's lob and headed for goal. The 'legend' will tell you that he beat several defenders on his way into Merseyside folklore but the reality is that he kept his eye on the ball, brushed aside any challenge from a defender and then calmly tucked his right-foot shot under Curkovic into the Kop goal to bring about scenes which those who were there still talk about with a lump in their throat and a shiver down their spine! His ecstasy was transformed into agony when he discovered he wasn't either in the starting line-up in the FA Cup final against Manchester United or Liverpool's first-ever European Cup final. "I was very disappointed. I played in the FA cup semi-finals against Everton, started both games and had all the celebrations to go to the cup final. Leading up to the FA Cup final day, Bob Paisley tells me I am going to play in the final. It never happened. 'You'll play next week in Rome, I'll need you in Rome.' Then in Rome I was sub," Fairclough revealed. Kevin Keegan was certainly impressed by his strike partner as he revealed in 1977. "Dave’s difficult to play with because you just can’t read him, that’s what makes him such a dangerous opponent. The best is yet to come from him and in a couple of years time he’ll be a force to be reckoned with. His best asset is his pace coupled with his control. You must remember that he’s not a regular yet, and like a lot of youngsters, might have difficulty in adapting when opponents do get the measure of him. That’s when the real test will come, but I’m sure he’ll do well. He’s got ability you can’t coach into a player."

Keegan had been replaced by Dalglish the following season and Toshack only appeared in a handful of games. This time Fairclough started 34 out of 42 games and scored 15 goals. He was in the starting line-up when the Reds successfully defended their European crown at Wembley. If Fairclough thought he had finally established himself in Paisley's starting 11, he couldn't had been more mistaken. Heighway started as number nine in the 1978/79 season. "Paisley said: "'Heighway won't last much longer. I'll start him off this season and see how he goes. He'll be burnt out after ten games and then you'll come in. That's your slot,'" Fairclough said. "The team got off like a house on fire and were beating everybody 4-0, 4-1, 5-0 and couldn't stop scoring goals. Anybody could have played in that team, really, it was so good. I never got in for months. The first League game I started was against Manchester United on 26 December. We won 3-0 at Old Trafford. I played a couple of games and then I got injured against Everton in March." The season was over for Fairclough but Liverpool went on to win the Championship only conceding 16 goals in 42 matches!

In 1979/80 Fairclough scored 13 goals in 12 starts and 14 substitute appearances, but from the 1980/81 season onwards he was out injured quite a lot which curtailed his Anfield career. Fairclough started seven games on the trot in September to October 1980, scoring seven goals and proving he was just not an impact player. Unfortunately he got injured at his most productive and was out until middle of January. A knee injury finished his season in early February 1981. He didn't play again for Liverpool's first team until October 1982! Fairclough made his comeback in the reserves in September 1981 and was stuck playing for the second-string during the 1981/82 season, scoring 14 goals in 29 matches. What on earth had happened in the meantime? A certain Ian Rush made the number nine shirt his own with 30 goals in 49 matches. Fairclough had missed his window of opportunity and he spent the summer of 1982 with Toronto Blizzard in the North American Soccer League to keep his fitness levels up. Fairclough was prolific for the Liverpool reserves following his spell in America scoring 20 goals in as many matches but he only started three games for the first team in the 1982/83 season. Fairclough did sign off with three goals in his last four matches for the club in April 1983.

Fairclough is not very pleased with with Paisley's treatment of him at Liverpool as he told LFChistory.net. "Down the years I've had lots of time to think about why I didn't fulfill my potential. Obviously Paisley had to keep 14-16 people happy, but he made life difficult for me. I broke into the England squad and I was very much on Ron Greenwood's list of players who were perhaps going to break in. I came back to Anfield and Bob Paisley decided to play me as sub or leave me out. I had a lot more to offer." Fairclough's final figures for Liverpool still make impressive reading. 37 goals from 92 starts is a fine achievement but he never quite got rid of the 'Supersub' nickname and that is borne out by the fact that he scored 18 goals in 62 substitute appearances. But his contribution towards the club's success of the late 70's and early 80's should not be underestimated. Maybe he did have a tendency to drift in and out of some matches but his pace and unpredictability caused havoc to many a defence and his 'golden' moment against Saint Etienne is one which will never be forgotten.

Appearances per season

Please note

Fairclough has been said to have finished his playing days with Knowsley United but his signing for the club was only a publicity stunt for his friend Max Thompson who was manager there. Fairclough neither signed for Manchester City nor Rochdale. He played only two reserve games for City and featured for Rochdale in a pre-season friendly against Blackburn just prior to leaving for Belgium.

Season League FA LC Europe Other Total
Totals 98 15 21 19 1 154
1973-1974 0 0 0 0 0 0
1974-1975 0 0 0 0 0 0
1975-1976 14 0 0 5 0 19
1976-1977 20 5 2 3 0 30
1977-1978 29 1 7 4 1 42
1978-1979 4 3 1 2 0 10
1979-1980 14 5 5 2 0 26
1980-1981 9 1 4 2 0 16
1981-1982 0 0 0 0 0 0
1982-1983 8 0 2 1 0 11

A more detailed look at the player's appearances

Total Opponent
9 Manchester City
8 Nottingham Forest
8 Everton
8 Arsenal
8 Norwich City
6 Ipswich Town
6 Manchester United
6 Derby
6 WBA
5 Middlesbrough
5 Coventry City
4 Newcastle United
4 Chelsea
4 Crystal Palace
3 Dyn. Dresden
3 Bruges
3 Wolves
3 Leicester City
3 West Ham United
3 QPR
3 Birmingham City
3 Leeds United
3 Brighton & Hove Albion
3 Stoke City
2 Sunderland
2 Aston Villa
2 Bristol City
2 Sheffield United
2 Southampton
2 Hamburg SV
2 Tranmere Rovers
2 Dinamo Tbilisi
2 Bradford City
2 Oulu Palloseura
2 Southend
1 Swindon Town
1 Real Sociedad
1 Trabzonspor
1 Saint-Étienne
1 Zurich
1 Chesterfield
1 Exeter City
1 Widzew Lodz
1 Bury
1 Swansea City
1 Tottenham
1 Anderlecht
1 Watford
1 Burnley
1 Blackburn Rovers
Total Started/substitutions
92 Started
75 On the bench
62 Substitute
12 Substituted
Total Competition
98 League
21 League Cup
15 FA Cup
11 European Cup
5 UEFA Cup
3 European Super Cup
1 Charity Shield

Goals per season

Please note

Fairclough has been said to have finished his playing days with Knowsley United but his signing for the club was only a publicity stunt for his friend Max Thompson who was manager there. Fairclough neither signed for Manchester City nor Rochdale. He played only two reserve games for City and featured for Rochdale in a pre-season friendly against Blackburn just prior to leaving for Belgium.

Season League FA LC Europe Other Total
Totals 34 4 10 7 0 55
1973-1974 0 0 0 0 0 0
1974-1975 0 0 0 0 0 0
1975-1976 7 0 0 1 0 8
1976-1977 3 1 0 1 0 5
1977-1978 10 0 3 2 0 15
1978-1979 2 0 0 1 0 3
1979-1980 5 3 5 0 0 13
1980-1981 4 0 1 2 0 7
1981-1982 0 0 0 0 0 0
1982-1983 3 0 1 0 0 4

A more detailed look at the player's goalscoring

Total Started/substitutions
37 Started
18 Substitute
Total Competition
34 League
10 League Cup
4 FA Cup
3 European Cup
3 European Super Cup
1 UEFA Cup
Total Goal minute period
3 1-15 minutes
4 16-30 minutes
5 31-45 minutes
14 61-75 minutes
21 76-90 minutes
Total Open play/Penalty
55 Open play

Milestone Appearances

# Date Against Stadium Competition
1 01.11.1975 Middlesbrough Ayresome Park League
50 13.08.1977 Manchester United Wembley Other
100 13.02.1979 Birmingham City Anfield League
150 26.03.1983 Manchester United Wembley League Cup

Milestone Goals

# Minute Date Against Stadium Competition
1 72 04.11.1975 Real Sociedad Anfield Europe
50 68 01.10.1980 Oulu Palloseura Anfield Europe

Related Articles

Supersub

The review of Supersub, the story of local hero David Fairclough who is still remembered for his achievements in a red shirt.More

The Greatest Goal I Ever Saw

An article from Sabotage Times by Martin Quirk on 4 January 2012.More

The kid who became “King of the Kop”

Published in the Daily Mirror on 21 April 1976.More

Crossroads for young Fairclough

An article from the Liverpool Echo on 27 January 1979. More

Joey Ate The Frogs Legs

Robbie Ashcroft relives the path to European cup glory in 1977. This article was previously published on the forum of redandwhitekop. More

David Fairclough - Don't call him a super ***

David Fairclough was born few feet away from Anfield, and his dream came true when he signed for the Reds. He played his part in Liverpool's success in the 1970's, but wonders what might have been. More

Related Quotes

"It definitely did not help my career that I came off the bench and scored so often, and from 1977 onwards I often made it clear I wanted to leave - irrespective of the success Liverpool were enjoying at that time."

David Fairclough

"Dave’s difficult to play with because you just can’t read him – that’s what makes him such a dangerous opponent. The best is yet to come from him and in a couple of years time he’ll be a force to be reckoned with. His best asset is his pace – coupled with his control. You must remember that he’s not a regular yet, and like a lot of youngsters, might have difficulty in adapting when opponents do get the measure of him. That’s when the real test will come – but I’m sure he’ll do well. He’s dedicated, got a good outlook on the game and has already picked up a lot of experience. Dave can only get better – when opponents read him he’ll develop another trick. He’s got ability you can’t coach into a player."

Kevin Keegan on David Fairclough in 1977

"Dave is a bit of a secret weapon. Often he’ll start a match and play for 90 minutes without doing a thing. Yet he’ll come on as substitute and within score the most amazing goal ever. But he’ll settle down into a great player – of that I’m sure."

Emlyn Hughes on David Fairclough in 1977

"In the Legends Lounge at Anfield they’re all there in this montage picture but all you see of me is my back with the no12 on my shirt. That says it all really."

Supersub David Fairclough

"I put a spurt on, got clear of him and put it just where I wanted. I never had any doubt about it - I knew I would score. I thought I could just not miss it. I had the whole goal to aim at and I made up my mind that it would go in. I let it tick over in my head and then put it in. It was a terrific feeling. The amazing thing is, it seemed so quiet as I homed in on the target but when the ball hit the back of the net the noise was just unbelievable. I also remember Kevin Keegan leapt on me and I could hear him saying above the roar 'Supersub you've done it again'."

David Fairclough remembers his famous goal against St Etienne in the book Liverpool Cup Kings 1977 by Mark Platt

"Grand National day, 1976. Early kick off at Anfield. It's derby day but, with time running out, it looks like the only winner will come at Aintree. Then off the bench comes a spindly, pale redhead. Late on, he picks the ball up near the Kemlyn Road touchline 40 yards out and sets off towards the Anfield Road goal. In a blur of ginger hair and flailing legs he reaches the edge of the area and shoots. Everton fall at the last! Yet the strike saddled Fairclough with an unwanted nickname: Supersub. The next year, against Saint Etienne that title would be cemented forever. Living proof that red hair is no bar to greatness. And you don't need a regular place in the side, either. Just impact."

Tony Evans from Times online on David Fairclough

Other Clubs

Club Season Club rank League apps League goals Total apps Total goals
Toronto Blizzard 1981-1982 NASL 20 4 20 4
Luzern 1983-1985 Switzerland N/A N/A N/A N/A
Norwich City 1985-1986 England First Division 2 0 2 0
Oldham Athletic 1985-1986 England Second Division 17 1 20 3
Beveren 1986-1989 Belgium 1 70 14 80 20
Tranmere Rovers 1989-1990 England Third Division 14 1 19 1
Wigan Athletic 1990-1991 England Third Division 7 1 9 1
Total 130 21 150 29
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