Creative midfielder Garry Parker joined Hull City in February 1986 as the Tigers sought to build on the Second Division successes 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 a 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 his second full season in 1987/88, Parker played in a more advanced role and scored regularly, including the second in a famous 2-0 win over Leeds at Elland Road and a March 1988 equaliser against Plymouth. Ths latter strike was Parker’s last goal for City in his final appearance as he was sold for a handsome £260,000 fee immediately after that game.
Garry Parker was born in Oxford, but after spending his school years on the books of QPR he began his professional career at 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 Luton first team over the next two and a half years and played in the 1985 FA Cup semi-final against Everton, but by early 1986 he had fallen out with the Hatters’ management amid rumours of enjoying the occasional exotic cigarette, and was allowed to join Hull City for a £70,000 fee.
Parker joined Nottingham Forest in March 1988 and over the next three seasons was a first team regular and goalscoring threat from midfield. He started the League Cup Final in 1989, which Forest won 3-1 against Parker’s former side Luton, and also scored twice in a victory over Everton in the less heralded Simod Cup Final. He started for Forest in the FA Cup Semi Final against Liverpool in March 1989 that witnessed the tragic events in the Leppings Lane End at Hillsborough. Forest again lifted the League Cup in 1990 with Parker in the starting eleven, then reached Wembley a third time in 1991 when Forest reached the FA Cup Final, only to lose to Tottenham in a match known for Paul Gascoigne’s master class in poor tackling. Parker amassed 147 senior appearances for Forest in all competitions and scored 26 goals.
In November 1991 Parker was transferred to Aston Villa for a £650,000 fee and was involved in another League Cup run that ended in a Wembley final, though Parker was not selected as Villa beat ten-man Manchester United 3-1. In his first season at Villa Garry was a first team regular and scored nine league goals, but in the next season and a half he was only selected irregularly by Villa boss and future TV peace envoy Ron Atkinson. In February 1995 Parker moved to Leicester City in exchange for £300,000 and stayed at Filbert Street for six years, making 147 senior appearances (the same total as at Forest) and hitting 16 goals. He scored in the 1995 League Division 1 play-off final against Crystal Palace that Leicester won to achieve promotion to the Premier League. He played in his third League Cup Final in 1997 against Middlesbrough, which was won by a Steve Claridge in extra time of a replay – Parker won all three of his League Cup Final appearances. He remained on the playing staff until 2000 but made his last first team appearance in January 1999. Over an 18 years career he played in 532 senior matches and scored 67 goals.
Parker then started a second career as a coach at Leicester, even taking over as caretaker manager for a fortnight in October 2001. 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 Celtic by his former Leicester team-mate Neil Lennon, now the Bhoys’ manager. In 2014 Parker took a similar role at Bolton Wanderers, again with Neil Lennon as manager, then worked with Lennon a third time when he joined the coaching staff at Hibernian in 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.
Parker won an England Youth team cap in October 1983 against Iceland in Reykjavik. He made six appearances for England Under-21 while at Hull City between 1986 and 1987, debuting in April 1986 against Italy in Pisa. In May 1989 he 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.
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
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 goalsGarry Parker
|1986/87||37 (1)||0||1 (0)||0||3 (0)||0||-||-||1 (0)||1|
|1987/88||33 (1)||8||3 (0)||0||2 (0)||0||-||-||1 (0)||0|