The idea for the Gary parkinson dinner came about after I had been to see Parky at the priory near Bury back in January.A couple of days after the visit, I turned to one of my mates and said someone has to do something for him, to which my mate replied, why don’t you , don’t leave it to others.
Instantly I thought he’s right. Within a day I had been in touch with everyone of the 86 team, including Bruce Rioch, Colin Todd and ex chairman Colin Henderson, physio Tommy Johnstone, Steve Gibson and Keith Lamb. The most pleasing thing for me was that everyone said yes immediately, there was none of this I will phone you back on it or I will have to check my dairy. It was just a straight yes, even from Gary Hamilton who lives in America.
I was confident that I could promote the Parky dinner via my website, Real Radio and the Gazette and thankfully it paid of.
Initially I was told the capacity at the Tall Trees was 800, deep down I thought if we sell 4-500 in todays climate that would be great. Five weeks of promotion and we were at 800, with still 4 weeks to go to the dinner (incredible). For one week I announced the dinner was a sell out. I went to Glasgow for a charity game and returned to 13 envelopes through the post with cheques in them wanting tables, this took the total to 981.
I went to see my friend and Tall Trees hotel manager Lal Kawandale and begged him to up the tally of tables. I told him it would be a crime to return these tickets. He reluctantly agreed, but we had to promise no more sales. Believe me I am certain if the room could have taken 1500 we would have sold all of them as people were asking me right up until the event have you any tickets.
Initially I said I wanted no one seated on the stage, on the night we had to put 8 tables up there Gary family, players and managers all got the short straw, but it let us get everyone else in.
For those who werent present, we started off the evening with Bruce Rioch coming through the side doors and onto the stage, followed by Colin Todd and then the 86 team one by one and last but not least Debroah, Garys wife and Son Luke walked out to a standing ovation. At either side on giant screens was footage of the 86 team and Parky.After the main meal Gary Hamilton, Steve Gibson, Tony Mowbray gave brief chats, followed by Bruce Rioch who gave a long speech and Debroah Parkinson who had the room almost in tears with a fantastic composed speach, she was incredible. In between the meal we had raffle, auction, comedian and singer.
I was asked to say a few words, I explained who the dinner came about, followed by the story of when we played Ipswich town and I took a penalty and missed and really Parky should have taken it and how I had been to see Gary the week before the dinner , Debroah had asked Gary did he have a message for me as he can now communicate using his eyes. Debroah spelled out the alphabet and he lifts his eyes when you have to stop on a letter. The first letter was T second was O. I was thinking to myself, he is going to spell out tosser. In fact it said top man. I came away thinking maybe he means my clothes are from Top Man. Ha Ha.
Another moving moment of the night was when a message that Gary had spelled out was shown on the screens. It said ‘ Thank you for turning up on my behalf. In 1986 you gave me the will to win, I dont class you as team mates but as mates for life. All those who are supporters, thank you for your support and loyalty. Parky ‘ I think you can imagine not a dry eye in the room.
Parkys family are an absolute credit to him, they are smart and composed and loving, the love they and the Teeside public have for Gary showed in the room on the evening.
Every day I pray for Parky and his family and I would ask you all to do the same. He is a terrific individual, smashing player and a fantastic Dad.
I would like to thank everyone who supported the dinner and made it possible, Clarrissa, Micky Horswill, Gary Philipson, Real Radio, Chris and Johnathon, all the 86 team, Gary Hamilton who travelled from America and all the managers. It was unique as it was the first time all the team were together. Linda, and all the girls Cristina, Steven and Michael, Jack hatfields, Lee, Lal and Bassam, John and all the kitchen staff and bar staff from Tall Trees, Alistar Griffin and Brendan Healey, Adam Nolan and everyone at Boro tv. Heather from Party Galore for balloons, Andrea for help with raffle, Evening Gazette, Dazza and Eddie at Studio print for tickets. everyone that donated auction prizes. Finally all of Gary’s family and everyone that attended for your support on the evening.
The amount made on the night was £30,000, please can you all still back Gary as he still has a long fight ahead, if you can raise money doing anything for him it will be a great help, if there is anything I can help with, please contact me, Also look out for the dvd of the evening out in the summer all proceeds go to Gary.
God bless Gary and please continue to pray and support him as Teesside has done him proud.