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Tom Parker by Alex Service
The St. Helens Newspaper gave the first indication of his signing for Saints on 27th June 1921: "Tom Parker, the York centre has been transferred to St. Helens rugby club. Parker is a big centre and a heavyweight but is particularly nimble and attractive in his methods and the Saints believe they have done a very good stroke in obtaining his services." Yet illness was to strike him down and he couldn't take part in the pre-season trials as reported on 16th August: "Parker is unable to play through illness. The news that Parker had to undergo an operation was heard with great regret."
Tom eventually made his debut in the right centre position on 12th November 1921 against Leigh. The Saints lost 3-9. Premier in the St. Helens Newspaper wrote about his contribution as follows: "Parker played a beautiful game in partnership with Charlie Crooks at Leigh, such a game as to make us feel sorry that we have not had his services all this season. Parker and Crooks dovetailed in their passing and re-passing would have made anyone believe they had been playing together all this season." The Saints team on debut was as follows: Parkinson, Crooks, McLoughlin, Parker, Gormley; Halsall, Groves; Cain, B. Briers, Phoenix, Kennedy, Higgins, Farrimond.
He went on to make 12 appearances for the club, scoring two tries. Tom made six appearances at left centre; four at stand-off [1 try] and two at right centre. Tom scored a try against local rivals St. Helens Recs at City Road on 24th December 1922, which helped the Saints to a 7-6 victory. Teddy McLoughlin kicked two goals. The St. Helens Newspaper described his try as follows: "Parker accepted a short pass from Groves and instead of whipping the ball among the threequarters, he cut straight in and was over before Smith could check him, for a very smart try."
His last match was at home to Broughton Rangers, Saints winning 14-9 and the Saints' team was as follows: Fairhurst; Crooks, Parker, Bradbury, Gormley; Fairclough, Groves; Heaton, Clarey, Briers, Robinson, W. Jones, Cross. Excerpts from the Minutes of the club revealed that he was also involved in the signing of three Welsh players, one of which, George Lewis, became a real stalwart for the club:
19th March 1922
"Secretary reported he along with Mr. Watson and Parker visited Pontypool ground to see the match v Gloucester and gave a very glowing account of the play of the three players the names of whom he disclosed with a request that owing to the delicacy of the matter their names should not be made public. They were the brothers Stan and George Lewis of Pontypool and Gus Hayes of Cardiff playing with the Pontypool team. The two brothers were scrum and out-halves and Hayes a centre. Deputation arranged an interview when the brothers Lewis asked for £1,000 for themselves as a pair. Secretary made an offer of £750 each but this was turned down as being ridiculously small. After some keen bargaining they agreed to accept £800 cash down but refused to look at a cheque. As the Secretary deputation were not empowered to go to this sum the brothers agreed to wait until Monday for the decision of the Committee. Hayes asked for £300 but finally agreed to £150. Deputation was strongly in favour of accepting the revised offer for the Lewis brothers. Mr. Watson confirmed the report. After discussion a resolution was passed that negotiation be renewed with the object of securing the three players at these figures. Mr. McLean offered to advance the club £500 at 6% rate of interest which the Committee accepted. Deputation explained they had left Parker behind to keep in touch with the players whilst awaiting the Committee's decision."
The report of the club's AGM contained snippets re Tom Parker:
"The first blow was felt when news came of the serious illness of Parker and his consequent operation. The Committee had every confidence in his football ability and were expecting great things from him. The Chairman emphasised the importance they attached to Parker's transfer. At the time of his signing on, Parker was, he said, the third best centre in Yorkshire. Then followed his illness, but they did not let him down; they stuck with him right through. He had no hesitation in saying that if it had not been for Tom Parker's illness, the St. Helens club would have been in a far better position. Mr. Foster, the secretary, explained that Parker was sent down to Wales to search for new men, and after a week or ten days, he wrote back that he thought he had 'the goods.' Two members of the Committee went down, saw the men play, were satisfied, and endeavoured to get them signed on."
In late July 1922, Tom Parker went 'head to head' with another former player, Bill Whiteley, for the post of caretaker at Knowsley Road. Parker was successful and continued in the role until March 1923, when the opportunity of employment elsewhere came about.
Apparently he passed away on 10th December 1942, at the age of 52, after suffering from a stomach ulcer. He remained in St. Helens after his playing days and lived in Gamble Avenue. He had a physically demanding job as a worked as a Sand Grader at the time.
|Season (Official Matches)||Tries||Goals||DGoals||Matches|
|Season (Other Matches)||Tries||Goals||DGoals||Matches|
|12th Nov 1921||
|17th Nov 1921||
|18th Nov 1921||
|3rd Dec 1921||
|10th Dec 1921||
|17th Dec 1921||
|24th Dec 1921||
|6||St. Helens Recs||L||1921~22||A||0||6||VIEW|
|31st Dec 1921||
|6||St. Helens Recs||L||1921~22||H||7||6||1||VIEW|
|14th Jan 1922||
|4th Feb 1922||
|11th Feb 1922||
|4th Mar 1922||
|*Unofficial Match. **Non Playing Sub.|
|WINS : 4 | LOSSES : 8 | DRAWS :|
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