Imagine Derek Parkin having stayed for another three or four years at Wolves….and spent those seasons playing 35 or so games a time.
Imagine, too, his total of Wolves appearances – a club record as it is at a cool 609 – shooting up to around the 740 mark and still being surpassed by three team-mates.
It’s hard to believe that’s possible but it is pretty much what happened to Norman Hunter, the Leeds legend who has this month been lost to coronavirus at the age of 76.
We make the link here as the two men have things in common; they were both left-sided defenders from Tyneside who played against each other on countless occasions and even travelled together with England.
They even lived in close proximity long before they climbed to such exalted heights among the record-breakers at their respective clubs.
“He was a good player in a superb team and I was shocked and very sad to hear he had passed away,” Parkin said today.
“I didn’t know him in the north-east. He was a few years older than me and went to Leeds in his mid-teens. But I am sure I saw him play when I was a groundstaff lad at Huddersfield and Leeds came and beat us the season they went up by winning the Second Division.
“However much people slagged them off, they were a very good side and always tough opponents. We certainly never took much from them at Elland Road, although we gave them some terrific games and beat them in that title-deciding game at Molineux.
“My wife Norma was from Morley, near Leeds, and we lived there until I joined Wolves. I didn’t really want to leave Huddersfield at all. I was happy there but if your club set up a deal with another club, it was very hard not to go.
“I’m sure that’s why Norman’s total of games was so high there. They were his first club and they won things across many years. Because he was also one of their top players, why would he leave?
“I suppose if you take away my 60-odd games for Huddersfield and 40-odd for Stoke at the end, and think I could have played those for Wolves, I might have been well past 700 games as well.”
Hunter famously totalled 726 first-team games for Leeds but still had Jack Charlton (773), Billy Bremner (772) and Paul Reaney (748) ahead of him.
Two others from that era, Peter Lorimer and Paul Madeley, went past 700 Leeds games while Parkin’s closest rival at Molineux is Kenny Hibbitt, 35 games behind him on 574.
Parkin and Hunter were also both in the squad for England’s game in Malta on February 3, 1971 but the full-back added: “I didn’t really get to know him.
“Bobby Moore was out through suspension and there were a few new faces in the squad, like myself, Ralph Coates, Tony Brown from Albion and Bill Glazier from Coventry.
“We tended to hang around together and none of us got on in the game.”