As I exited Brentford’s Griffin Park at the end of our recent game there I thought I heard a ‘Parky, Parky’ chant. It was enough for me to stop dead and turn my ear towards the away end to confirm what I thought I’d heard. Perhaps I did: I’d certainly like to think I did. But although successful enough to have gathered enough voices to have carried the chant to just outside the ground, it clearly must have died down no sooner was it created. None the less, I felt happy it may have happened in the first place, especially after a disappointing draw.
I like Parkinson, and always have done. He represented the sort of player I wanted to be when I played the game (albeit at a low level). Like Kinsella and the stocky and steady Breaker, he’s the sort of chap you want in a battle. Parkinson’s got a good ability of saying the right thing at the right time, without going overboard and appearing like he’s made the statement just for the benefit of the fans. He’d make a great politician in this regard. Unlike Pardew, he doesn’t appear to need the spotlight or fame that goes with football management. In fact, in this regard, Parkinson’s programme notes rarely cover the space he has available to him. Not that it’s about written words, it’s about tactics and team leadership and I think he’s more than capable in both points. He will get things wrong; no manager is exempt from mistakes. I also accept he did have the time to turn around our situation last year but didn't manage to do it (although I don't blame him alone for relegation). But with the players he has at his disposal, and the crippling financial situation at The Valley, I think his job is a tricky one, to say the least?
So it was with great alarm that I noted in the excellent ‘Addick’s Championship Diary’ a post drawing our attention to today’s South London Press, and Parkinson’s alleged link with Reading. On first glance I see this as paper talk. As Parkinson himself reassuringly points out, “I’m in the middle of a project here and I’m fully focused on seeing that through”. I’d feel better if I was naive to the fragility of such quotes in football, though.
As I said, I like Parkinson, and I don’t know why Charlton fans have been so reserved in getting behind him. OK, he’s not from Charlton stock. I accept that, but so what? At the Withdean in early December, as the players and management passed us by at the end of the game, we sang ‘Kin, Kin, Kinsella’ but nothing for Parky. Whilst Kinsella will forever deserve our admiration, surely Parkinson deserved slightly better than his head coach taking all the applause! Perhaps it’s just because his surname doesn’t easily lend itself to chants.
I was involved in the construction of Colchester United’s new stadium, and as such, got to know some of the clubs staff quite well, and in particular, the two groundsmen. Parkinson led that club to promotion in recent times on a shoe-string budget and is very, very highly thought of within the club (although not by the fans if our visit there this season is anything to go by). They were devastated when he went. Their stories about Parkinson’s focus, professionalism and relentless determination was constantly impressive and believable, if not slightly humorous on occasions when told by an assistant groundsman who was phoned 3 times late one Sunday evening by Parkinson who needed to confirm everything was 100% in place for Monday morning’s training.
Anyway, back to Charlton. I think we should get behind the man. He gives me the impression he cares and values his role at our club and does it with some dignity considering the problems the club has faced in the last few years. I’m certain he will be a decent manager for this club for years to come. Should he succeed in gaining promotion, we may just get a short burst of 'Park, Parky'!