On Cloud Nine

Long-Haul Trek Worth Every Moment

Phil Parkes with a commemorative scroll sent in recognition of his service with Vancouver Whitecaps.

Phil Parkes is still buzzing from the memorable recent reunion of Vancouver Whitecaps’ history-makers – and making plans to ensure the absences aren’t as long another time.

The popular ex-Wolves keeper met several former team-mates he hadn’t seen since the end of his playing career but has revealed after returning home that his previous trip to the area had been tinged with great sadness.

“Derek Possee, who I have stayed with in the last couple of weeks up in the mountains, was a colleague at the Whitecaps and lost his son, Danny, in a shooting incident in the early 1990s,” Lofty said this afternoon.

“My last time there was for a memorial match in his honour some time afterwards. I remember Kevin Hector went across as well.

“Danny was a lovely lad who came to ours in Wolverhampton some time before he died. We couldn’t believe it when we heard that news.”

Possee settled in Canada after a playing career spent with Tottenham, Crystal Palace, Leyton Orient and in particular Millwall, where he has long been the third highest scorer in club history.

“Derek drove us away from Vancouver in his truck that is very useful given how cold it can be where he lives a few hours north of the city,” he added. “He was saying that he needs to change the tyres on it in winter.

“But it’s a wonderful place with all the wildlife and it just added to the fantastic time we all had.

“We were brilliantly treated and looked after. Everyone made a real fuss of us and the hotel we were put up in was used by the Canadian Prime Minister the day after we checked out, so that shows how good that was.

“I left the club soon after we won the Superbowl 40 years ago and don’t think I had seen lads like Roger Kenyon and Ray Lewington since I came home from my career in America.

“Roger, who was different class at the back with John Craven, lives in Chester and is clean-shaven these days. Ray is Roy Hodgson’s assistant at Crystal Palace, so I have said I will do all I can to see him when they come to Wolves next season.

“I’ve seen a few of the others more than once, like Willie Johnston, Kevin Hector and Les Wilson, but it was great to see some of the lads from Canada as well.

“We all thanked Carl Valentine, who did a lot of the organising of our weekend, and the others included Carl Shearer, who became a doctor, Drew Ferguson, who has run the Canadian cerebral palsy team, and Gerry Gray, who has had his own business. A few of them have done very well for themselves.”

Parkes had the best part of three seasons at Vancouver, including the 1976 one on loan after losing his Wolves place to Gary Pierce just before the club’s relegation.

He also played in the city on Wolves’ tour of the west coast of Canada and America early in the summer of 1972.

White-shorted Whitecaps team-mates Trevor Whymark and John Craven (right) look on as Lofty punches clear.

One surprise he had on this trip was a meeting with three Wolves fans over a bacon sandwich breakfast on the day of the Liverpool v Tottenham Champions League final.

Thomas Publications