621 Garry Parker

Biography

Creative midfielder Garry Parker joined Hull City in February 1986 as the Tigers sought to build on their successes in Division Two engineered by manager Brian Horton. Parker was known to Horton from their time together at Luton Town and recognised his ability to create an attacking threat with his range of passing. For the next two years Parker missed only ten of 105 senior fixtures and was the fulcrum of Horton’s developing side, replacing the exquisite skills of Bobby Doyle once the Scotsman was injured in a 1986 pre-season friendly. Parker scored his first goal for City in a 1-2 defeat at Southampton in the Full Members’ Cup, a match better known for defender Peter Skipper playing 90 minutes as emergency goalkeeper. In the 1987/88 season, his second full season with the Tigers, Parker played in a more advanced role and scored regularly including the second goal in a famous 2-0 win over Leeds United at Elland Road and a March 1988 equaliser against Plymouth Argyle. This latter strike was Parker’s last goal for City in his final appearance, he was sold for a handsome £260,000 fee immediately after that game.

Garry Stuart Parker was born in Oxford, after spending his school years on the books of Queens Park Rangers he began his professional career at Division One side Luton Town, making his first team against Manchester United in May 1983 in front of a 34,000 Old Trafford crowd. He was a support player for the Hatters first team during the first part of the 1983/84 season, scoring his first senior goal against Wolverhampton Wanderers in January 1984 and ending the season with seven consecutive starts on the right side of midfield. He was given more regular first team starts during the 1984/85 season and played in the April 1985 FA Cup semi-final defeat to Everton, but by September 1985 he had fallen out with the Hatters’ management amid rumours of enjoying the occasional exotic cigarette and was allowed to join Hull City in February 1986 for a £70,000 fee.

In March 1988 Parker left Hull City and signed for Division One side Nottingham Forest, returning to the English top flight where he would stay for all but one of the next twelve seasons. Garry broke into the Forest first team in December 1988 and held that place for three years. In April 1989 Parker was part of the team that won the League Cup final, defeating his former club Luton Town at Wembley, then three weeks later scored two goals as Forest beat Everton in the Full Members’ Cup final. He started for Forest in the FA Cup Semi Final against Liverpool in March 1989, a match that witnessed the tragic events in the Leppings Lane End at Hillsborough.

Forest again lifted the League Cup in April 1990 with Parker in the starting eleven that beat Oldham Athletic, then played at Wembley a third time in May 1991 when Forest reached the FA Cup Final, only to lose to Tottenham Hotspur in a match renowned for Paul Gascoigne’s master class in poor tackling. After missing the opening weeks of the 1991/92 season Garry’s final appearance for the City Ground side came in a November 1991 Division One match against Norwich City. Parker amassed 29 goals in 151 senior appearances for Forest in all competitions.

In November 1991 Parker was transferred to Division One rivals Aston Villa for a £650,000 fee, a club that reached the League Cup final and beat a ten-man Manchester United side at Wembley, though Parker was cup-tied and unavailable. In the 1992/93 season Garry was a first team regular and scored nine league goals as Villa finished runners-up in the newly constituted Premier League, but in the next season and a half he was selected less regularly by Villa boss and future TV pundit Ron Atkinson. His final appearance for Aston Villa against Southampton in December 1994 took his tally to 14 goals in 119 senior appearances.

In February 1995 Parker moved to Premier League strugglers Leicester City in exchange for £300,000. He was unable to help the Foxes avoid relegation at the end of the 1994/95 season but was a regular starter in the 1995/96 season as Leicester bounced straight back via a play-off final victory over Crystal Palace, in which Parker scored an equalising penalty that took the tie into extra time and set up Steve Claridge’s 121st minute winner for the Foxes. He played in his third League Cup Final in April 1997 against Middlesbrough, which went to a replay and was once again won by a Steve Claridge goal in extra time – Parker won all three of his career League Cup Final appearances. He remained on the playing staff at Leicester City until the 2000 close season, though his final first team appearance had been 18 months earlier in January 1999 against Middlesbrough. He scored 16 goals for Leicester City in 147 appearances, taking his total tally over an eighteen year career to 72 goals in 566 appearances.

Parker then began a second career as a coach at Leicester City. Having previously been a short-term caretaker manager for two games in December 1995, he was again briefly a stop-gap boss for a fortnight in October 2001, losing his only match 0-6 to Leeds United. During the 2000s he dropped out of senior football, working for a construction firm in Oxford and playing for several local non-league sides, primarily Kidlington FC (where he also ran the reserve team) and Abingdon United, where he was appointed player-coach in 2008. In July 2010 Parker was appointed first team coach at Scottish Premier League side Celtic by his former Leicester City team-mate Neil Lennon, now the Bhoys’ manager. In October 2014 Parker took a similar role at Championship side Bolton Wanderers, again with Neil Lennon as manager, then worked with Lennon a third time when he joined the coaching staff at Scottish Premier League side Hibernian in June 2016. In August 2019 Parker joined his hometown club Oxford United as performance analyst, three years later in March 2022 he joined the coaching staff at Cypriot side Omonia Nicosia, working once again under first team manager Neil Lennon. Both Lennon and Parker were dismissed by Omonia in October 2022 after the pair had piloted the side into the group stage of the Europa League.

Parker won an England Youth team cap in October 1983 against Iceland in Reykjavik. He made six appearances for England Under-21, playing five times while at Hull City against Italy (twice) in April 1986, Sweden in September 1986, Yugoslavia in November 1986 and Spain in February 1987. He added one further Under-21 cap as a Nottingham Forest player against France in April 1988. In May 1989 Parker returned to Reykjavik for his only England B cap against Iceland, lining up alongside Paul Gascoigne, David Platt and Steve Bull. He was talked about as a possible selection for the England senior team but never made it into a squad.

Details

Nationality: England
Date/Place of Birth: 7 September 1965, Oxford
Hull City First Game: 25 February 1986, Huddersfield Town A (Division Two), 20 years, 171 days old
Hull City Final Game: 19 March 1988, Plymouth Argyle H (Division Two), 22 years, 194 days old

Clubs

Luton Town (1981-1986), Hull City (1986-1988), Nottingham Forest (1988-1991), Aston Villa (1991-1995), Leicester City (1995-2001), Kidlington OB (2001-2002), Abingdon Town (2002-2004), Oxford City, Kidlington FC, Abingdon United (2008-2010)

Hull City Record

Career: 95 apps, 9 goals

Garry Parker
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1985/8612 (0)0
1986/8737 (1)01 (0)03 (0)01 (0)1
1987/8833 (1)83 (0)02 (0)01 (0)0

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