On the Square with Phil Parkes

One of our most popular and loyal members is the focus of this week’s ‘on the square with’ feature. Phil Parkes, who recently celebrated his 70th birthday has lead a remarkable life as a professional football club goalkeeper with Wolverhampton Wanderers. Although Phil was born in West Bromwich, he opted straight from school to join the Wolves in 1962. At this time the club were under the leadership of the legendary Stan Cullis. A distinguished career followed for 6’ 4” ‘Lofty’ including 303 league/cup appearances, Texaco Cup winner and a UEFA Cup runners-up medal.

Phil finally left his beloved Wolves in 1978 to seek new opportunities in the United States playing for Vancouver Whitecaps, Chicago Sting, San Jose Earthquakes and Oklahoma City Slickers. During his time in the states he played with (or against) such greats as George Best, Pele, Eusebio, Beckenbauer and Cruyff. Phil finally handed in his gloves in 1983, came back home to live in Fordhouses and renewed his contact with the cricket club.

Without further ado, over to you Phil…


1. Why did you join FCC?

In the early 1970’s I came to live in Fordhouses and our new family home was a stones-throw from the Taunton Avenue ground. Fordhouses had a very good reputation in West Midlands cricketing circles, not just around their performances on the field but as a family based club. I became a member and playing meant that I was able to keep fit in readiness for the forthcoming football season – how times have changed!


2. What (or who) was your Inspiration to get into cricket?

I was lucky enough to play cricket at my school in West Bromwich (Spon Lane) and one of my teachers Mr Fanthorpe had previously been on Warwickshire’s books. At lunchtimes I would regularly bowl to him in the playground and he would give us a cash bonus if we bowled him out.


3.Who is the best FCC player of all time and why?

It is impossible to single out an individual player and therefore I have picked three! Brian James and the Brewer brothers (Mike and Roger) were all formidable competitors and great lads.




4. Who is the best player you have ever played against?

For me the left arm spinner Russell Flower from Little Stoke CC falls into that category. Russ, who played in the Staffordshire circles for many years, was finally awarded with a professional contract with Warwickshire. His first 1st class wicket was a certain Geoffrey Boycott of Yorkshire!


5. What is your most memorable personal moment?

Lots of great memories in winning the Staffordshire Club Championship three years in a row and success in the Levett and Wightwick Knock-out finals. At the time I was regarded as a genuine quick bowler but over the years converted to a wily slow bowler. I never had any pretentions over my batting prowess but could be a very stubborn tail ender – once scoring a crucial 14 not out including two sixes against Streetly! In my testimonial season at the Wolves (77/78), it was great fun to bring my Wolves team mates to play a Don Barnes Fordhouses XI.


FCC and wolves

Picture of Wolves FC players and FCC 1st XI at Phil’s testimonial game

6. What is your most memorable team moment?

The Levett Cup was traditionally played between the Express and Star winners and Wightwick KO winners. We won this cup at Danescourt against our arch rivals Wolverhampton CC. Brian James kept hitting their star quick bowler, Nick Stroudley, in to the tennis courts for six!


7. Did you have any superstitions before, during or after a game?

Never had any superstitions at all!


8. What change would you make to the game to get more kids playing?

Not sure about too many changes. Sport is about playing to the rules in a competitive but fair way.
As a parent I believe in giving youngsters encouragement and an opportunity.  Both my boys (Dean and Greg) played youth and senior cricket at Fordhouses and I always enjoyed giving young talent a change when I was 3rd XI captain back in the 90’s.


Read more ‘On the Square with’ features:

On the Square with Shaun Guest – click here

On the Square with Dave Ramsbottom – click here

On the Square with Peter Jones – click here

On the Square with Roy Salter – click here

On the Square with Jez Thomas – click here

One Response to “On the Square with Phil Parkes”

  1. Chris Boulter

    Finding this article largely by accident brought back some good memories of playing for Fordhouses in the mid 1970’s, particularly one of my rare forays into the first team. I used to bowl a mixture of spinners mostly in the 2nd and 3rd teams but sometimes when Mike Brewer was away playing for Staffordshire (and I suspect no-one else was available) I got a game for the firsts. On this particular occasion Phil opened the bowling and I was put at 2nd slip. Their batsman soon got an edge to Phil and the ball, travelling more quickly than my previous slipping experience (mostly to Mike Mincher in the 2nds and 3rds) hit me on the shin before I could even move. A couple of balls later he got another edge, which this time I managed to react to and stop cleanly. However, next over, Don Barnes promoted me to field at fine leg – both ends!
    Many good memories of the many characters at the old Taunton Avenue ground, including Mike Mincher, Mike Reid, Ray Tilley, George Wright (who kept the hanging baskets so beautifully), the Tomkinson brothers who lived in the house right by the entrance road, George, the third team captain who was steward at the Masonic Lodge and Ziggy the brewery rep., whose surnames I forget and many others. Incidentally, if anyone knows the whereabouts of Vic Brown (who I think left to play for Wolverhampton) please remind him he still has my 1971 Wisden’s Almanack. . .


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