Things Just Seemed To Happen At Turf Moor

Lofty At Centre Of Major Developments

Phil Parkes…..memories aplenty of visits with Wolves to Burnley.

Phil Parkes once lost his long-held place for a game at Burnley and, another time, reclaimed his senior jersey there following a spell in the shadows.

He was also part of the side who sadly brought the curtain down on the Ronnie Allen era with a 1-1 draw at Turf Moor.

From the span of the keeper’s long Molineux career, there are other quirks around a fixture that was shown live on BBC this evening……and Wolves having a League game broadcast live on terrestrial TV has become very much an oddity in itself!

Lofty was in the Wolves line-up who beat Burnley on the last day of a season and was again their last line of defence when they won away to the same opponents on the first day of a campaign.

Were things more inclined to happen to him at this East Lancashire outpost or were such coincidences inevitable in a career as long as his? Maybe we have just spent too much of lockdown reanalysing the record books!

Parkes celebrated his 73rd birthday yesterday and, as chance would have it, the man he replaced for a 1-1 draw at Turf Moor on February 3, 1968, Evan Williams, turns 77 today.

That winter date 51 seasons ago was Phil’s first senior appearance at the venue where, after another 1-1 draw in 1968-69, he was left with unhappy memories of it the following season.

Not only was he in a team beaten 3-0 in the third round of the FA Cup but he was dropped in favour of recent signing John Oldfield when the First Division fixture list sent Wolves back to Turf Moor the very next Saturday.

Bill McGarry’s men won that one 3-1 and generally prospered in the fixture, as they did when triumphing 3-2 in the autumn of 1970, soon after Parkes had been restored at Oldfield’s expense.

Another 1-1 draw followed the other side of Burnley’s two-season stay in the Second Division, then came a 2-1 victory there when the curtain went up on the 1974-75 campaign.

That was Lofty’s last game there in the first team, with Gary Pierce in situ both for the 5-1 success in the rain in 1975-76 (also well featured on Match of the Day) and for a 0-0 draw the following winter after the two clubs had been relegated together.

John Holsgrove sees John Oldfield squirming in the Turf Moor mud on the day he made his Wolves debut in January, 1970. Photo by Howard Talbot.

Phil played, though, when Burnley lost 1-0 at Molineux on the final day of 1970-71 but was retreating towards the fringes of the first team, with Pierce emerging as the preferred man, when the same club provided the opposition on opening afternoon in 1976-77.

One final piece of statistical/anecdotal trivia relevant to this piece, other than expressing regret at how Rui Patricio didn’t quite manage a clean sheet tonight, is the fact that the other goalkeeping Phil Parkes – born in Sedgley, a few miles from Lofty’s roots – reaches his 70th birthday on August 8.

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