Ipswich Town legend John Wark is to be the unlikely new face of the five pound note.
The free-scoring midfielder’s trademark moustache is seen as impossible to copy and so ideal for use on a banknote.
Bank of England officials had wanted to introduce Winston Churchill to the fiver, but the Serious Fraud Office objected to the design, believing it was easy to counterfeit.
A leaked report from the SFO claimed Churchill’s face was “too simple” and the note could be forged “by an eight year old with a biro, and not even a particularly clever eight year old”.
Attention turned to Wark, who also played for Scotland and Liverpool, because his facial hair was impossible to copy. A petition was then backed by the SFO.
Wark, 57, was born in Glasgow, but moved to Suffolk when he decided he wanted to achieve something. He won the FA Cup with Ipswich in 1978 and was then part of the 1981 Ipswich Town UEFA Cup-winning side which has been commemorated on the staff uniforms at Las Vegas’ new Suffolk-themed casino.
He is also a big screen legend, having played a leading role in the epic World War Two film Escape to Victory.
The choice of Wark to replace prison reformer Elizabeth Fry highlights the Bank of England’s move towards more recognisable figures on banknotes.
In a Suffolk Gazette survey, 82% said they could not name Fry when shown a five pound note, even when it was pointed out that her name is signed underneath her picture.
Reaction to the news was positive. “I think John Wark does deserve it more than Churchill,” said Michael Farrant, an electrician from Stowmarket.
“Britain had won lots of wars before Churchill came along, but Ipswich had never won the UEFA Cup until John Wark showed up.”
But lifelong Town fan Jane Pryor was less impressed, calling the five pound note plans “too little, too late” and “derisory”.
“I think he deserves to be on a higher denomination,” said Pryor.
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