Forever known as ‘Supersub’ for his astonishing ability to score after coming off the bench, David Fairclough is remembered as the star of Anfield’s greatest ever European night.
The red-haired forward first made headlines in 1976 when he came on late in a Merseyside derby, hitting the winner following a dazzling run past six Everton defenders. It was one of his seven goals in the team’s last eight games – four of them as substitute – and they were to prove crucial in bringing Bob Paisley his first title.
Paisley continued to use him as a sub throughout the following campaign, often to lethal effect. The most famous occasion came in March 1977 when he sent him on to replace John Toshack in the European Cup quarter final tie against St Etienne at Anfield. With just six minutes left the gangly striker collected a Ray Kennedy pass and went on a trademark blistering run into the opposition penalty box. His shot past the French ‘keeper put Liverpool into the semi-finals, sending 55,000 Anfield spectators into a frenzy.
Although he started more than 90 matches, Fairclough often proved more menacing in the Number 12 jersey. The sight of him warming up on the touchline brought a buzz of anticipation around Anfield and often unnerved defences. Not surprising, in 61 appearances as a substitute, he found the net 18 times, but for all his pace and shooting ability, the boyhood Reds fan could never count himself as an automatic first-team choice.
He continued to collect medals (including two Championships, plus a European and UEFA Cup), but by 1983 he was yearning for a regular starting place. Unable to get it at Anfield, he moved on to the Swiss club Lucerne, later returning to England with Man City, Norwich, Oldham, Tranmere and Wigan Athletic, before finally ending his career at Knowsley. He now works in corporate hospitality.