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John Parke

Name: John Parke
Born: 6 August 1937, Bangor
Died: 27 August 2011
Height: 5.09 ft
Weight: 10.12 st
Position: Full-Back

Representative Honours: Northern Ireland: 14 Full Caps (1963-1967), 1 Junior Cap (1953), 5 Youth Caps; Irish League: 5 Caps (1958-1963). 
Club Honours: (with Linfield) Irish League Champion; Irish Cup Winner 1961/62, 1962/63, Runner-Up 1957/58, 1960/61; Gold Cup Winner; City Cup Winner; Ulster Cup Winner; Co. Antrim Shield Winner 1957/58, 1958/59, 1961/62, 1962/63; (with Hibs) Summer Cup Winner 1964.

Club Career: 
FA Cup
FL Cup

4th Bangor Boys' Brigade






KV Mechelen


As a teenager John Parke featured as an amateur with Cliftonville Olympic, earned Youth international recognition and gained a host of admirers. It was on his return from the 1955 International Youth Tournament in Italy that Parke broke into the Cliftonville first eleven. He rejected a move to Burnley, preferring instead to remain in Northern Ireland and qualify as a mechanic and instead he signed for Linfield; the change from the sparseness of Solitude to the vastness of Windsor Park leaving an impression on the teenager.

It took a while for Parke to break in to a start-studded Linfield team. Many of his early appearances were as a scheming inside-forward, but it was an injury to Ray Gough that allowed him to establish himself in the Blues’ half-back line. Still, he was selected in an attacking role for his Inter-League debut in October 1958, and his second appearance for the Irish League side a year later was at left-back. In all he played five Inter-League matches, in four different positions, but finished a loser on each occasion.

The pinnacle of Parke’s Linfield career arrived in 1962, as a member of the all-conquering “Seven Trophy” team. Although he was troubled by knee problems throughout that historic season, he played a total of 27 times and claimed Irish League, Irish Cup, City Cup and Co. Antrim Shield winner's medals. Although he missed out on the Ulster Cup, Gold Cup and North-South Cup through injury, Parke did play his part in the League deciding Test Match win, 3-1 over Portadown.

By the time Parke left Windsor Park in October 1963 he had played for Linfield in every outfield position and won seventeen major medals. He also won the first of his fourteen Northern Ireland caps in a 2-1 win over Scotland. It was his performance at left-back in that match, in which he shackled Rangers’ flying winger Willie Henderson, that earned Parke a £15,000 move to Hibernian.

Within days of his arrival at Easter Road Parke won his second cap. Once again he put in a highly effective performance, stifling a talent-packed Spanish forward line as Northern Ireland lost 1-0 at Windsor Park. His club career received a boost with the appointment of Jock Stein as Hibernian manager in April 1964. The great man so rated Parke that he installed him as regular left-back and had occasion to make him captain. Parke was also a member of the Hibs side which famously defeated Real Madrid 2-0 in a friendly in October 1964.

A month after the Real game, Parke was on the move to Sunderland. He had made just 21 Scottish League appearances in a little over a year with Hibernian, but his value had doubled to £30,000. He joined a Black Cats side featuring international colleagues Martin Harvey and John Crossan, but struggling to re-adjust to life back in the First Division. He made his debut in a 3-0 defeat by Sheffield United and it didn’t get much better. Throughout Parke’s time at Roker Park Sunderland never finished higher than fifteenth and failed to progress beyond the fifth round in the FA Cup, but he was still hailed as a top-class full-back. He was an adept distributor of the ball and his passes often proved a potent offensive weapon.

On the international stage too, Parke continued to prove his worth. He was employed with almost equal regularity at right-back, left-half and his regular club position of left-back. With him in the team Northern Ireland came within a whisker of qualifying for the 1966 World Cup Finals. With him absent from the team they conceded to lowly Albania, a goal that cost them a trip to England. Still Parke’s finest hour in a green shirt was perhaps the “George Best Match” against Scotland in 1967. That day he was the leading light in an otherwise makeshift defence that provided the bedrock for Best’s virtuoso attacking display.

His latter seasons at Sunderland having been ravaged by injury, Parke was released in 1968. He spent an enjoyable few seasons playing in Belgium with KV Mechelen before an injury picked up in a practice match effectively ended his playing days.

John Parke settled back in his native Bangor, continuing to take a keen interest in both his hometown club and his beloved Linfield. He has also been struck by the knee, hip and back problems which so afflict many ex-footballers. Regrets however have were few, in his own words: "I love the game - and gave it all I had."

John Parke passed away in August 2011 after a lengthy period of ill health and a battle with alzheimers.

Linfield Career Details

Northern Ireland Cap Details:
12-10-1963 Scotland.... H W 2-1 BC
30-10-1963 Spain....... H L 0-1 ENC
20-11-1963 England..... A L 3-8 BC
14-11-1964 Switzerland. A L 1-2 WCQ
25-11-1964 Scotland.... A L 2-3 BC
17-03-1965 Netherlands. H W 2-1 WCQ
31-03-1965 Wales....... H L 0-5 BC
07-04-1965 Netherlands. A D 0-0 WCQ
07-05-1965 Albania..... H W 4-1 WCQ
07-05-1966 West Germany H L 0-2 FR
22-10-1966 England..... H L 0-2 ECQ
16-11-1966 Scotland.... A L 1-2 ECQ
21-10-1967 Scotland.... H W 1-0 ECQ
22-11-1967 England..... A L 0-2 ECQ

Summary: 14/0. Wom 4, Drew 1, Lost 9.


Anonymous said… (some pics of John Parke @ KV Mechelen)
Anonymous said…
Nice article about John Parke, but his Hibs beat Real Madrid 2-0, not 2-1!
jcd said…
Cheers, fixed now.
Anonymous said…
That's my granda.
Anonymous said…
Anonymous said…
Met John Park tonight and have found him to be a real gentleman

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