Unpublished memoirs Ep 5 – “Super” Sam Parkin

Since I started supporting Town there has not been a single player unanimously loved by fans as Sam Parkin. Scoring 73 goals in over 130 games over 3 seasons after signing from Chelsea ‘Super Sammy ‘ is widely regarded as an all time great. I was honoured that he agreed to participate in one of my catch ups.

Did you know much about Swindon before you signed?

I’d played at the County Ground for Northampton Town the previous season and had also been there with Millwall during my 1st loan spell away from Chelsea.

Being football mad growing up meant I was also well aware of the club anyway. I remember watching the Playoff final in 1993 and following that I actually watched Swindon win at QPR on the penultimate day of their Premier League season.

My dad’s friend had a bar next to Shepherds Bush Green and I remember seeing all the Swindon fans in fancy dress carrying a coffin that I presumed was the death of their stay in the top flight! Swindon of course went on to win that day to complete a double over Rangers!

A hattrick on your debut is not a bad start is it?

It was the perfect start. I’d had a great goal scoring pre-season and went into that opening day with real confidence.

I remember that I stayed in a hotel in Old Town the night before the game and that I was very nervous. Despite my form in the friendly matches I still had a lot to prove after an unsuccessful time at Northampton the previous year.

The game couldn’t have gone any better. As soon as the first goal went in I relaxed and felt completely at home. Being greedy I actually should have scored 5. I missed a good chance late on and also has a perfectly good goal disallowed in the 2nd half. I got the hat trick ball signed in the dressing room and it still sits proudly in my living room at home.

Very quickly knighted ‘Super Sammy ‘ – did you relish the title and chant?

Hearing the fans sing my name on that day has stayed with me since. As a child I dreamt of playing professionally, to score goals and to have the adulation of the crowd. That day all my dreams came true. Im not sure who gets the credit for the nickname. I think I have to thank a combination of Shaun Hodgetts at BBC Wiltshire, Jon Ritson at the Advertiser and the fans in the Town End.

It didn’t stick with all supporters at my other clubs but a lot of my former teammates still call me ‘Super’ which isn’t too bad!

Having claimed many awards how did/do you rate your relationship with Town fans?

My relationship is still brilliant with all the Swindon fans. This despite me probably getting on people’s nerves on the radio! I think they appreciated that I gave my all during my time in Wiltshire and it was a very amicable parting of the ways when I left for Ipswich. I always tried to be a good role model and was always very keen to help out off the pitch. I think that’s the least you can do when you’re at a club like Swindon as the players are a big part of the community.

You had many different strike partners – who was your favourite to play alongside?

In terms of success the best partnership was with Tommy Mooney. We played the majority of the games together and invariably one or both of us would be on the scoresheet. We didn’t necessarily make a lot of goals for each other but we both had a real hunger to get goals when the ball went in the box. I think we had a healthy rivalry to be the top scorer and that benefited the team on the pitch.

Taken from Swindon Advertiser

During the three years I had lots of good partners including Danny Invincible, Rory Fallon and Darius Henderson. Danny could win games by himself if he was in the mood. Rory was a an excellent finisher and a scorer of spectacular goals and Darius was a good foil for me during his loan spell.

If I said Brighton or Playoffs how did you feel?

The Brighton defeat is my worst memory in football.

You don’t need me to tell you that we should have been in the Playoff final that year. If either leg were a boxing match it would have been stopped long before we suffered the injustice of losing in a penalty shootout. Despite scoring in the 2nd leg I don’t think I actually played particularly well in either tie. Maybe the magnitude of the games got the better of me as I wanted that promotion so badly. I also had to to play 110 minutes or so at the Withdean with two teeth missing after Brighton left back Dan Harding kicked them out. We laughed about later when he joined me at Ipswich.

It was a tough end to a great season and I’m sure my career would have look a lot different had we managed to achieve promotion.

Who, in your opinion, were the best players you played with at Swindon?

The best all round player during the 3 years would be Stefani Miglioranzi and not just because we were mates! As strong as an ox but one of the most elegant footballers I played with at any club. I’m sure if it wasn’t for his battle with injuries he could have played a level or two higher.

I’d also mention Jimmy Davies. Right up there in terms of natural ability and another like Danny Invincible that could win games single handedly.

It is often discussed amongst fans as to which Parkin goal(s) were best – do you have particular favourites?

For a lot of reasons my favourite goal would have to be my individual effort against QPR at the Town End. They were the team I supported as a boy so I it was always a big day for me. I remember having lots of friends of family at the game and it also was my 20th of a memorable 1st season.

For obvious reasons I also like the goal at Elland Road in the cup and also the one at Wycombe in the 3-0 win of the Playoff season.

Taken from Swindon-Town-FC.co.uk

Aside from goals any standout moments on or off the CG pitch?

Its hard to pick out any moments that really stand out. It was just a really special time in my life. Kingy created a very unique atmosphere and it was genuinely great fun to be a Swindon Town player.

Having experienced lots lows in the game since I left, I’m extremely grateful for that period.

I think it’s best summed up by the reception I got during and after my final game against Chesterfield. The fans sang my name throughout and afterwards I was carried into the County Ground pub to say my farewells! Brilliant memories.

You left for Ipswich – how did you feel leaving and how was it up there (pre injury)?

I think it was pretty inevitable that my time at Swindon was coming to an end. We’d had a mediocre season and I felt the time was right for to play at a higher level. That final day was emotional and I found it hard to say goodbye to Kingy but I knew he wouldn’t stand in my way.

I spoke to a number of clubs but as soon as I met Joe Royle and saw the facility’s at Ipswich my mind was made up.

It all started well but after the previous success of Darren Bent and Shefki Kuqi I found it difficult to win over the supporters. I probably didn’t help myself at times and I struggled with being a small fish in a big pond as opposed to being one of the first names on the team sheet at Swindon.

I scored some important away goals including 2 at Leeds but my confidence was shot to pieces at Portman Road. It was probably for the best that I moved on once I’d recovered from my injury the following summer. I remember Jim Magilton saying to me that sometimes moves just don’t work out. Unfortunately that was certainly the case for me.

Then you went north of the border – how was your time there?

Going up to the SPL was a tough decision but one that I’m really glad I made.

Being half Scottish it was really nice for my mum and her side of the family to see me playing in the top division up there. I would encourage any player in the English lower leagues to consider it if the opportunity arises. I needed a fresh start and a new challenge after going somewhat stale during a poor year at Walsall.

I really embraced living in Glasgow and have made some brilliant lifelong friends in the city.

On the pitch it was very up and down. I struggled with injuries during my 1st two years at St Johnstone and only sporadically showed my best form. The highlight probably being a goal against Celtic very early on.

A brief spell at Queen of the South really ignited my love for the game again and my final year at St Mirren was very enjoyable. It was a great dressing room and we played a lovely brand of football which saw us win the League Cup by beating Hearts at Hampden.

As we are talking Scotland , do you think you were close to a full cap?

I played for the Scotland B team during my final months at Town. At that point I think I was probably on Walter Smith’s radar. Ally McCoist and the late Tommy Burns took the side and I really enjoyed the experience. I was flying at Swindon and was full of confidence during the trip to Austria. Unfortunately that’s really as close I got to the full team. Once I’d missed those 2 years of football through injury at Ipswich and then Luton, I found it hard to get back to the level of consistency that I’d shown at Swindon.

With over 400 career appearances what career highlights do you hold close?

It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to work out that my most productive spell was at Swindon so of course I treasure those times above all else.

The day I signed for Ipswich remains a brilliant memory. I was also fortunate to score on a lot of debuts, 10 goals in total, so I’ll always look back on those days with great fondness.

Finally I’m very proud of the two trophies I’ve won. The JPT with Luton at Wembley in 2009 and the League Cup in Scotland with St Mirren in 2013.

In Luton’s case, it was won in real adversity after the club were docked 30 points at the start of that seasons league campaign. We also beat Scunthorpe who were a division higher.

The St Mirren success was also very much against the odds. We beat Aberdeen,Celtic and Hearts in the competition and it was the club’s first major honour in 26 years. Great days and even better nights!

What are you up to now?

Unfortunately I’m sure many of the people in Swindon are well aware of what I’ve been up to since I called it a day!

I’ve thrown myself into a new career in the media and It’s great to still be involved in the game. Like many others, I found it incredibly difficult adjusting to life without playing football. It took me a good year to make sense of it all and find some real direction.

The last 3 years has been a great learning curve and I’ve had some brilliant experiences.

I’m extremely ambitious about what I’d like to achieve and very excited about the future.

My thanks to Sam for answering all of my questions.

If you liked this you may like https://smfyfe.wordpress.com/2018/02/08/unpublished-memoirs-ep-4-matt-heywood/

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