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Bourne Legacy: Joe Parkinson


AFC Bournemouth AFC Bournemouth

With AFC Bournemouth travelling to Goodison Park on Sunday, we catch up with one of the few playing links between the Cherries and the Toffees.

Although Joe Parkinson played just 30 games for AFC Bournemouth in 1993/94, his departure to Everton probably helped keep the club afloat.

In a fascinating question-and-answer, the former midfield dynamo lifts the lid on his £800,000 sale and how the Cherries almost bought him for just £10,000.

Parkinson joined the Cherries from Wigan in July 1993, with a transfer tribunal setting his fee. He went on to become a fans’ favourite at Goodison, only to have his career cut short by injury.

How did your move to AFC Bournemouth come about?

Tony Pulis was the manager at the time and he wanted to sign me and Russell Beardsmore. He set up a meeting with us at a hotel at Manchester Airport. Afterwards, I went home and spoke to the family and decided to make a go of it. It was a fresh start and a move to the south coast.

How had you caught Tony Pulis’s eye?

Wigan played Bournemouth at Springfield Park the previous season and they had a player called Peter Shearer who was highly regarded in the league. I remember playing against him and doing very well.

Tony was also after a player called Neil Rimmer who was the Wigan captain at the time. I know Neil went to talk to them and he told me Tony had wanted to speak to me as well. It just went from there.

There are various reported fees for your move to Bournemouth – do you know how much you cost?

I remember sitting in Tony’s office and he said he was going to ring Wigan to make an offer. He spoke to the new chairman and said they were going to offer £10,000. Tony came off the phone and said they had accepted it. I was a bit gutted, hoping it would be a lot more than that!

Tony looked at me and said “I’ve just got you for ten grand”. I just said “oh, great”.

Then, about ten minutes later, Wigan called back. I think the manager Bryan Hamilton had advised them that it wasn’t the right fee so we had to go to a tribunal. I don’t know what the total was. I know it was very little to start with and then went up on appearances.

Norman Hayward was panicking at the tribunal, wondering how much they would have to spend but he was more than happy when the figures came out in the end.

You made your debut in a 1-0 win at Bristol Rovers where Steve Fletcher scored. What was Fletch like, on and off the pitch?

Absolutely fine. He was one of the main characters in the changing room even though he was only young. He was a big player for Bournemouth and we played to his strengths.

He was also good to me off the field. He showed me and Russell round Bournemouth and we got on really well.

I’ve seen him a few times since and he’s still doing really well at the club. He’s a big figure at the club and it’s good to see him still there so congratulations to him.

You scored in a 1-1 draw at Hartlepool – what are your memories of that day?

We did all our travelling on the day which was unusual. I know they were cost-cutting at the time. We had to make our own breakfast, pasta dishes and something to eat for the way home. They were long days and massive weeks when you went to the north. It’s bad enough having a long journey on a bus anyway but to then play a football match at the end can be quite difficult.

I was used to getting up early because I had young kids but it must have been a struggle for some of the younger lads. But it had to be done and was the way football was at the time. You did what the club could do, you knew where you were and we just got on with it.

It was a tough period in the club’s history – do you have any examples of how tough things were?

Although there was no money, the training ground (Chapel Gate) was good. We got changed at Dean Court and would take it in turns to drive to the training ground. Yes, we didn’t do any overnight stays.

You could see around the place things were on a budget but you still had enough equipment to train well and perform. Times were hard but we didn’t see too much of it really. We just got on with it because we wanted to play football.

Tony Pulis was cutting his teeth in management, what was he like to play under?

He was absolutely fantastic for me. He showed a lot of faith in me and gave me a lot of belief. A lot of things on the pitch had to go through me and he wanted me to take free-kicks which I had never done.

I brought my young family down and he really looked after us and made sure things were done in the right way. I was his type of player – an honest lad who would work hard. At the time, we could tackle so I was probably ideal for him and he was ideal for me.

You could tackle in those days – expand on that?

When we played, you would get a ‘free one’ where you could go through someone and maybe get a yellow card or just a warning. You had to look after yourself.

Now, you know that tackle is not coming or the player is going to get sent off. In that fact, it’s gone a bit soft for me.

For me, a tackle was a skill just as much as a drag-back or a shot. It’s a fine art and, if you don’t get it right, you should get punished. You should still be able to tackle hard and strong as long as it’s fair.

Do you still keep in touch with your former neighbour Russell Beardsmore?

I’ve spoken to him a few times. He does some speaking in the lounges at Manchester United, which is what I still do at Everton. We have a little connection there.

How did your move to Everton come about?

It was a massive surprise. We had played Barnet and I had fractured my shoulder. I went up for a header with Glenn Hoddle’s younger brother and caught my shoulder. I had to got off because it was killing me. An X-ray revealed the fracture.

It was so painful and I couldn’t play for a few games. I didn’t think anything of it at the time but I was being pushed to play and they were trying to get me a harness to keep playing. I thought it was strange but being young and naïve and wanting to play every game, I didn’t think anything of it but it was obvious clubs were looking at me.

I’ll never forget what happened. I went out one night with Alex Watson and our wives to a restaurant which Harry Redknapp had a share in (Lorenzo’s). Harry was on the table next to us. He sent wine over to us and we returned the compliment.

Then, Harry came over and said “Joe, I thought you’d gone to Everton?”.

I just looked at him and said “what?”.

He said “oh, no, nothing”.

I was so naïve and didn’t think anything of it.

We played York City a few days later and Tony was really pushing me to play. My shoulder was still killing me and I told him it was really sore. He asked me to play and I did.

The day after we got back from York, I had a knock at my door and it was Tony. He asked me if I wanted to go to Everton. He said a bid had been accepted.

I said I would love to and he told me I needed to get to Heathrow. I didn’t have a clue how to get there but luckily my neighbour took me so off we went. I was on the same plane as Anders Limpar and we both signed for Everton.

I knew then why Tony had been pushing me so much.

What are you doing now?

I’ve done a lot of different coaching roles and am looking to get back into it.

On matchdays at Everton, they have something they call ‘A Legend in the Lounge’ and I walk round talking to the Evertonians which is very enjoyable.

What would you pick out as your most memorable moment in a Cherries shirt?

I’ll never forget making my debut and winning at Bristol Rovers, in the Autoglass Trophy. We had a great start to that season and went unbeaten for the first few games.

We had some good players and a good team but just couldn’t keep up the momentum and finished below halfway.

We did well in the FA Cup and League Cup. We got to the third round in the FA Cup and lost narrowly to a strong Blackburn team over two legs in the League Cup.

But my main memory of that season is getting knocked out of the Autoglass Trophy against Leyton Orient when I missed a crucial penalty.

I didn’t even want to take one but Tony Pulis came on the pitch, pointed at five of us and said "You, you, you, you and you are taking them".

I didn’t have the bottle to say I didn’t want to take one. I missed and we got knocked out. It was a memorable moment but for all the wrong reasons!

I hadn’t taken a penalty for years. I remember taking them when I was at school and missing loads so I never took them. I can’t remember who else took them against Orient but I didn’t have a choice and mine was saved.

I’ve never taken one since and wouldn’t now even if I was playing five-a-side with my mates!

This feature first appeared in the Everton edition of MATCHDAY, the club's programme, earlier in the 2019/20 season.

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