Only Once a Blue (Part 5): Henry Parkinson

When Harry Parkinson arrived at the Thornyholme Ground, he had intended to watch a Football League match but instead found himself taking part.

Born on 9 December 1866 in Oswaldtwistle, he spent the early years of his life with his mother Catherine at the Star Inn where his grandfather was landlord. At the time of the 1881 census, Catherine had taken over as landlady, while her son had started to work as a weaver in the cotton industry.

Being brought up in a beer drinking environment may have been the reason why Harry developed an aversion to alcohol, for he was a confirmed teetotaller, playing football for the Bells Temperance working man’s club. In 1885- 86, they entered the  Lancashire Junior Cup and after disposing of Everton, they won the trophy by beating Darwen Rovers 6-2 in the final tie at Fleetwood. The following season, Harry Parkinson and his team mates again reached the final, which was played at Anfield, where around 5,000 people watched them retain the trophy with a 1-0 victory over Lowerhouse. On 29 December 1888, he set out from his home at 354 Union Road, to watch Accrington take on Everton.

He arrived to find the visitors in a state of disorder, owing to the non-arrival of George Farmer, and they gladly accepted Harry’s offer to replace him. Parkinson was well-known to the Accrington followers, having assisted them the previous May against Blackburn Rovers to win the East Lancashire Charity Cup. The game had been in progress for five minutes when his shot was ‘… feebly repelled by Horne and Watson, and on rushing up, he scored for Everton.’ (Lancashire Evening Post.) Nevertheless, the bright start shown by the visitors slowly faded, and the home side went on to win 3-1.  Harry Parkinson’s moment of glory over, he then returned to playing with Bells Temperance.

Cricket and Football Field – Saturday 29 December 1888

This was a return match and played at Accrington before 3,000 spectators.  Teams;- Accrington; Horne, goal; Stevenson and McLennan, backs; Howarth, Tattersall, and Pemberton, half-backs; Lofthouse, Boner, Barbour, Kirkham, and Brand, forwards.  Everton; Joliffe, goal; Dobson and Ross (captain), backs; Weir, Parkinson, and Sugg, half-backs; Watson, Briscoe, Brown, Chadwick and Angus, forwards.  Referee; Mr. Fitzroy, Norris.  Accrington started against the sun, and Brand immediately had a couple of flyers, both however, over the bar.  Everton returned with a smart passing run, and after a second invasion Parkinson lifted well in, and Brown took an easy goal.  Corners to either team followed and Accrington were very near once or twice through smart work on the left wing.  Dobson followed close to goal, and Haworth enabled through an equalizer.  Everton brushed up and Horne had to clear from a corner, but the Reds were at the other end where Brand shot over the bar off-side, spoiling another passible chance.  Everton goal narrowly escaped later on, and Accrington kept forcing the play, beautiful tactics by the left wing keeping the strong defence pretty busy.  Lofthouse got one well across and Brand tried a roller, which was rather wide, and Pemberton shot well over the top.  Stevenson cleared at the other end.  After a corner from Sugg, Kirkham dashed one against the bar, and Joliffe saved wonderfully well, Lofthouse following with another corner by aiming just wide.  Everton were attacking when the interval came with one goal each.  The second half opened with a brief attack at the Everton end, and, after which the visitors took a couple of fruitless corners.  Then Kirkham dashed a sailing shot along the front of the goal and Lofthouse twisted about, but couldn’t reach it by a foot.  Good work by Watson carried the war over the line, and Haworth fouling the ball close in Everton had a chance, but he leather was driven back.  Then Barbour shot over with no one in front but Joliffe, but after the Everton goal had been endangered, Haworth got a flyer through at a corner, and from an ensuing scrimmage in the goal mouth.  The ball was forced over the line, making a third goal for Accrington.  Everton smartened up, but Accrington kept the lead up to the finish winning somewhat easy.
Final Result; Accrington 3, Everton 1

A hard frost following up the Christmas deluge did not make the ground specially inviting for this afternoon’s fixture, whilst another item which interfered with correct ideas, from a player’s point of view, was the friskiness of the ball, which was rather apt to play pranks.  Still it was a fairly good game nevertheless, Everton hardly came with really good intentions of substantiating their first League victory, for only 10 turned up; but Harry Parkinson, a Bell’s Temperance lad, who prevailed upon to make up the complement, rendered yeoman assistance at half-back and excelled an ordinary substitute game.  Accrington may be briefly put down as having the best of the game all through.  Faulty defence on the part of McLennan was responsible for Everton’s goal and, indeed, Jack did not show off his usually sound game at any time during the afternoon.  However this was made up by very judicious tactics by Stevenson, whose careful play was mainly responded to by Ross at the other end.  Accrington attacked very strongly uphill, and once or twice when the ball was nearing the goal the defenders’ hands flew up suspiciously; and on one occasion, after Dobson had knocked out the ball, the Accringtonians took the ball by the horns and rushed the free kick through.

31 December 1888,  Liverpool Mercury

On the 30 March 1895, he married Alice Ann Hayes and settled at the family home on Union Road where their only child Catherine was born in 1897. Harry was still a member of Bells Temperance, but the football section unable to meet the rent demands, were forced out of their home at Woodnook. (It was later taken over by Accrington Stanley.)

The 1901 census recorded Harry still working in the cotton industry, but now promoted to the position of overseer, while his mother was running the Beer Shop on Union Road. By 1911, the Parkinson family had moved to 24 Paddock Street, where all three adults, Harry, his wife Alice and mother Catherine were working in various positions within the cotton industry.

By Tony Onslow

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