Fairclough in 2008
|Date of birth||5 January 1957|
|Place of birth||Liverpool, England|
|Height||6 ft 0 in (1.83 m)|
|1982||→ Toronto Blizzard||20||(4)|
* Senior club appearances and goals counted for the domestic league only.
Life and playing career
Known affectionately as Supersub because he was a talented goalscorer who rarely started matches for Liverpool in comparison with other players, 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 boy and made his debut for the club on 1 November 1975 in the 1–0 league win over Middlesbrough at Ayresome Park. 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. David's first goal for the club came 3 days after his debut on 4 November 1975, it came during the 6–0 hammering of Spanish side Real Sociedad at Anfield in a UEFA Cup 2nd round 2nd leg tie.
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. As the next season got underway, Fairclough found himself rising up to third in the ranks due to a succession of injuries to Toshack, meaning he was substitute more than ever.
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 2–1 up in the home return. The aggregate score was level therefore at 2–2 but St Etienne were still in command due to their away goal. Liverpool therefore needed to score again to win the tie but time was running out.
Manager Bob Paisley sent Fairclough on in the last 20 minutes of the game and the red-haired striker, only 20 years old, responded in style. Only six minutes remained when Fairclough ran on to a long ball upfield and held off two St Etienne defenders. He prodded the ball home at the famous Kop end and Anfield had one of its greatest ever footballing nights. As the roar of the Kop screamed, Anfield folklore says that the roar could be heard 3 miles away. ITV commentator Gerald Sinstadt famously bellowed: "Supersub strikes again!" 
Liverpool won the League title again and also reached the FA Cup final at Wembley, as well as the European Cup final in Rome. Fairclough was not picked at all for the Wembley match as Paisley went for veteran winger Ian Callaghan on the bench (in this era, domestic football teams were permitted just one substitute). Liverpool lost to Manchester United. However, he was a substitute for the night in Rome (European fixtures allowed five substitutes) which Liverpool won 3–1. He then scored a goal in each leg as Liverpool overcame Kevin Keegan's Hamburg in the 1977 UEFA Super Cup Final.
However, the following year Liverpool reached the European Cup final again and this time Fairclough started the match. A 1–0 victory over Club Brugge 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 a newly promoted Nottingham Forest side who came out of nowhere to be a dominant force under manager 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's scored his one and only Liverpool hat-trick on 9 February 1980 during the thrilling 5–3 league victory over Norwich City at Carrow Road, the goals came in the 4th, 18th and 75th minutes, Kenny Dalglish (88th) and Jimmy Case (89th) guaranteed a late win for the Reds. However, his league chances were still restricted that season, as he played just 14 league games and scored five goals.
Fairclough spent another five years at Anfield in what was a golden era for the club, he was mostly out of the first team. He was a prolific scorer in the reserves, but the phenomenal partnership of Dalglish and emerging goalscorer Ian Rush rendered him surplus to first team requirements – the two main strikers also rarely were injured – by the 1982–83 season, when he scored three times in eight league games 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 (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 ultimately shrouded his number of first team starts with 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 2¾ games.
David left Liverpool on 4 July 1983 joining NASL side Toronto Blizzard on loan, he then moved on to Swiss side FC Lucerne before returning to England to have spells with Norwich and Oldham Athletic. He plied his trade abroad once more at Belgium club K.S.K. Beveren for 3 seasons before returning to home shores for stints with Rochdale, Tranmere Rovers and Wigan Athletic, he ended his playing days at non-league Knowsley.
Later life and legacy
David 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.
David 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.
Ironically, David's 18th place was higher than John Toshack's 34th and David Johnson's 77th positions, two of the players that prevented David from gaining more Liverpool appearances.
David 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. David and Jan have two children, Tom and Sophie.
David suffered a minor heart attack on 3 October 2010, at the age of 53, but made a full recovery.
- Football League First Division (6): 1975–76, 1976–77, 1978–79, 1979–80, 1981–82, 1982–83
- League Cup (3): 1980–81, 1981–82, 1982–83
- FA Charity Shield (5): 1976, 1977, 1979, 1980, 1982
- European Cup (3): 1976–77, 1977–78, 1980–81
- UEFA Cup (1): 1975–76
- UEFA Super Cup (1): 1977
- "Middlesbrough 0 – 1 Liverpool". LFCHistory.net. Retrieved 19 May 2010.
- "Liverpool 6 – 0 Real Sociedad". LFCHistory.net. Retrieved 19 May 2010.
- "Supersub strikes again on a real night to remember". Liverpool Daily Post (Trinity Mirror). 19 May 2005. Retrieved 19 May 2010.
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