Why Jon Parkin is happy to add some light relief during difficult times

Jon Parkin: Celebrating scoring a glorious hat-trick as Preston North End hit back from 4-1 down to win 6-4 at Leeds United in 2010.Jon Parkin: Celebrating scoring a glorious hat-trick as Preston North End hit back from 4-1 down to win 6-4 at Leeds United in 2010.
Jon Parkin: Celebrating scoring a glorious hat-trick as Preston North End hit back from 4-1 down to win 6-4 at Leeds United in 2010.
JON PARKIN is the first to admit that he would not be much good in an office. Or last very long either.

It has been a bit of a long-standing joke in his own household.

When he was earning his crust as a much-travelled forward who had as many clubs – to coin a phrase – as Jack Nicklaus, his family also probably did not envisage the prospect of him becoming a successful author, podcaster and after-dinner speaker in his second footballing career.

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Sometimes appearances can be deceptive. Look at Parkin’s statistics in his 14-club odyssey over two decades and it is clear that his savvy in front of goal served him well – even though he was never a footballer who was aesthetically pleasing on the eye – and certainly not an athlete.

Trophy time: York City's Jon Parkin lifts the FA Trophy after victory over Macclesfield Town at Wembley Stadium in 2017.Trophy time: York City's Jon Parkin lifts the FA Trophy after victory over Macclesfield Town at Wembley Stadium in 2017.
Trophy time: York City's Jon Parkin lifts the FA Trophy after victory over Macclesfield Town at Wembley Stadium in 2017. | © COPYRIGHT OF GORDON CLAYTON 2017

Relying upon an instinct of a different sort, namely a razor-sharp wit and endless supply of ‘on tap’ rib-tickling dressing-room stories, is now Barnsley-born Parkin’s raison d’etre.

His self-effacing ‘Feed the Beast’ autobiography was a laugh-a-minute tale of his life in football.

The popular Undr The Cosh podcast which he hosts alongside former Preston team-mate Chris Brown and an award-winning writer of the same name is providing further merriment.

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It is serving a particular purpose at the minute in providing a fair few smiles for football fans. In troubled times, sometimes laughter can be the best medicine.

Parkin told The Yorkshire Post: “We are doing podcasts and quizzes and still having a bit of craic. It is just to keep people entertained. Otherwise, you just end up watching repeats.

“I was just a guest on the first show and I didn’t even know what a podcast was. I just said: ‘what do I need to do’ and they said: ‘you just need to come out and chat s***.’ I said: ‘well, I can do that as well as anybody!”

“We did the first one and I have never left and it has just gone from strength to strength. When we first started, if we got 5,000 listeners a week, we’d be happy.

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“Now we are over 3.5million downloads and getting 20,000 watching a week on You Tube. We’re probably at 80,000 an episode on You Tube and the audio.”

Amid the banter and endless flow of amusing tales on the podcast, there is also some serious stuff as well.

Former Leeds United defender Clarke Carlisle spoke openly about his battles with mental health on the show, which has acted as therapy for many players who have missed the dressing-room banter since retiring and who have struggled to cope with life after football.

Barnsley-based Parkin, who struggled with a bout of circumstantial depression when he was living away from his family in Cardiff, said: “There has been quite a few where people have spoken about their problems after football. For Clarke, it was problems during football, really.

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“Clarke’s story had everything. It had funny bits, stories and deep stuff. We got messages from people who said it was really resonating with them and helping them out. That’s an extra bonus for us.

“I had problems myself and it was pretty much circumstantial. As soon as I got back up home, I was fine. Everyone does think football is hunky-dory, but a lot of lads go through some tough times straightaway after their careers.

“I retired at the end of last season and I think it has helped me as the main thing I would have missed – apart from getting paid – is the banter with the lads.

“My body was shot to bits and I was ready to finish the football bit, but from the podcast, we still have the banter every week. We did Andy Johnson recently and after it he said: ‘Thanks a lot, I really enjoyed that.’ He could relive his career and the memories that he couldn’t do with his pals and normal group of friends. They just wouldn’t get it as footballers are a different breed.

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“I did something with Preston this week and there were lads I had not seen or properly spoken to for maybe 12 or 18 months.

“But as soon as we get on the phone, we were battering each other after 10 seconds. It’s like we are in the same dressing room again.”

In contrast, modern football is far more sanitised to what Parkin experienced and he is grateful for playing in the era he did.

It is providing him with a second career in the game, after all.

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Parkin, who had spells at five White Rose clubs, including home-town club Barnsley, said: “Being a footballer in my era was so unique. My missus jokes with me and says if I worked in an office, I’d be knackered.

“I would be up in front of HR within three days for saying something inappropriate. Something which I think is normal with a bit of banter is something I would not be able to say now.

“When we were doing the podcasts and I was at York, the lads who are 25 or 27 could not believe some of the stories and used to say: ‘Is that what it used to be like?’ I’d say yes, it was brilliant.

“Ten years on, we’d have no chance as they are all like robots now. I would hate to be in it now and I don’t think the dressing rooms are the same.”

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