Saturday saw 28-year-old Padiham FC captain Martin Parkes make his 400th appearance for the club, in a career that’s spanned over twelve seasons.
The central defender made his debut back in 2005 after being spotted by manager Steve Wilkes in the Under 17s, playing his part in a thrilling 3-3 draw down at New Mills.
“He was a fantastic young player, ” said Wilkes, “and it was a no-brainer to put him into the senior side. He’s always been a strong, intelligent and clinical player, and is arguably the best centre-half in the league. On top of all that he’s a lovely fella and great captain. He’s been a fantastic asset to the club, and will figure strongly in our plans for years to come.”
Players spending twelve years at the same club is a rarity nowadays, and Parkes has some great memories from his time at Padiham.
“Winning promotion from the second division in 2009 with a team made up completely of local lads was a great achievement, but the title winning season of 2012/2013 was second to none. The team spirit, standard of players, passion, commitment and togetherness is the best I’ve felt in my time at the club.
“We had no right to win the league that year, there were better squads paying more money but they didn’t have our spirit. The crunch games away at Maine Road and Runcorn Linnets typified this at the end of a long season. Getting my hands on the trophy at Runcorn Town – despite missing the game through suspension – was the ultimate feeling, and the best I’ve experienced on a football pitch.”
Anyone involved with Padiham will recognise Martin’s proud dad Dave, who’s an ever-present on the terraces, even spawning the promotion season chant of “Parkesey is a legend…his Dad said so!” Martin and wife Hannah have recently had their first child, Thea Grace who came along to support dad at Saturday’s game.
“The support I’ve received from my family throughout my time playing for Padiham has been unwavering, especially from my Dad”, said Martin.
“He loves the club and has followed Padiham home and away for the past 12 seasons. What people may not realise is that he gives up his time during the week and works with a dedicated team of volunteers to get the pitch ready, paint the stands, sweep leaves, paint the lines on the pitch plus so much more. That team of people are the unsung heroes of the club and their contribution isn’t always recognised.
“My wife, Hannah, is also very supportive, and although she doesn’t attend many games she has to put up with me giving her the match report after a win or sulking after a defeat! One of Padiham’s newest fans Thea Grace Parkes, our beautiful little girl, was also in attendance to see her first Padiham game!”
Padiham Chairman Shaun Astin and Assistant Manager Steve Pickup are pictured presenting Martin, accompanied by daughter Thea Grace, with a trophy and bottle of whisky prior to Saturday’s game.