tributes from across the world of football have been paid to former Pendle man Syd Parkinson, who has died aged 97.
Syd spent more than 80 years involved with the game at grassroots level in Pendle and East Lancashire, and will be best remembered for his years as physiotherapist with Colne Dynamoes, Rossendale United and Barnoldswick Town.
The regard he was held in was recognised in January 2006 when he was awarded the MBE for his services to football in the New Year’s Honours, following a recommendation from Manchester United mamanger Sir Alex Ferguson, then Bolton Wanderers boss Sam Allardyce, Sky Television journalist Peter Smith, ex-Dynamoes defender Duncan McFadyen and Bacup Borough manager Brent Peters.
Sir Alex said: “It was a sad day when I heard of the passing of Syd Parkinson, who had devoted his life to football for 83 years. That shows a man of incredible strength and character. I recall writing to Syd in 2006, and I know how proud he was to have been honoured with an MBE for his contribution to football, a recognition certainly befitting his devotion to the sport.
“I know Syd will be sadly missed by all those whose life he touched, but especially the people of Barnoldswick Town FC. My thoughts and prayers go out the Syd’s family, friends, and colleagues and to the people of Barnoldswick who have lost a true legend.”
Mr Allardyce, now manager at West Ham United, said: “Syd was a football man through and through, and spent his life doing what he loved most. He was a great character in the game and fully deserved the recognition he got with his MBE in 2006.
“I am sure he will be much missed by his family and everyone who knew him. It was a privilege to have met him.”
Duncan McFadyen recalled meeting Syd when he began work at Rolls-Royce and was limping in the workshop one Monday.
“He asked me why I was limping and I told him I had been injured playing football.
“He asked me to go with him and I said my foreman wouldn’t like it, but he said: ‘I’ll sort that out.’
“He had a room at the end of the workshop where Rolls-Royce allowed him to treat anyone who was injured for half an hour - it was better for them to have people in work than off with an injury for a few weeks.
“Syd would treat anyone - not just sportsmen. I have even known men take their wives to him for physiotherapy.”
Peter Smith said: “There will never be another Syd Parkinson. I am delighted he got the recognition he deserved.”
Peter organised a feature on Syd shortly after his 90th birthday which was shown on Sky Sports News and brought him to the attention of the national sporting public.
He was described as “the oldest football physio in the world” - something which was never disproved.
Writing on the North-West Counties Football League web page, Mr Peters said: “The non-league football world will be mourning the loss of a gentleman and a true legend, who was officially the world’s oldest physio. It was a real pleasure working with and knowing such a gentleman as Syd. He was a character loved by all at all the clubs he had been involved with, and at every ground he would visit.
“Syd’s door at home would always be open, where he would make himself available to treat players to get them back playing the game he loved. Syd will be really missed by us all, none more than Duncan McFadyen to whom he was like a fatherly figure to. I am just glad that myself, and Duncan and Peter, could play an important part in Syd’s memorable day when he met the Queen to be awarded the MBE.
“All of our sincere condolences go out to Duncan and Syd’s family at this difficult time.”
On the same page, Barnoldswick Town programme editor Peter Naylor said: “Many people who have been involved in local football in East Lancashire will have come across Syd at some stage, as he was really well known.
“He was my manager in my early football career at Rolls-Royce in the Craven League, before moving onto Colne Dynamoes.
“When Colne reached the FA Vase final at Wembley in 1988, I believe a player feigned injury towards the end of the game, just so he could run out on to the pitch.
“I’m sure a lot of people will be saddened by the news, as he was one of local football’s greatest characters. Our deepest sympathy goes out to his family at this sad time”.
Syd, who worked at Rolls-Royce in Barnoldswick during his working life, lived in Barrowford Road, Colne, for many years but was forced to move into sheltered accommodation in Barnoldswick in 2006 following a chip pan fire at his home.
In 2008, he moved to Devon to be nearer to members of his family. His funeral has taken place in Torquay and it is hoped to arrange a ceremony in the Barnoldswick area in the New Year to scatter his ashes on the Victory Park pitch.
Anyone wishing to make a donation in Syd’s memory can do so to Alstrom’s Syndrome (UK), whose details can be found at firstname.lastname@example.org