Winning Isn't Everything - The Welling United Fanzine

The Welling United Fanzine

Thursday 26 November

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Life Begins at 40

As some of you may have read in Non-League Paper, Paul Parker celebrated his 40th birthday today. WIE became aware of the significance of this date some time ago, coincidentally about the same time that a collection of old QPR programmes dropped into our laps. What better invitation could there be for WIE to take a look back at Paul's career(s).

Before we start, a slight digression. The first programme we opened was for the game against Crystal Palace on 19 August 1989 and a quick glance at the Palace team photo revealed such luminaries as Ian Wright, Mark Bright, John Salako, Eddie McGoldrick, Perry "Nine Goals" Suckling and....

...on the right end of the back row, Mark Hone. Small world, and it wasn't to be the only Wings connection. Paul captained the Rs that season and here he is taking pride of place in their team shot.

Earlier on we mentioned Paul's careers - we all know he was a professional footballer, playing for such clubs as Fulham, Queens Park Rangers and Manchester United as well as representing England in the 1990 World Cup. However, he also did a bit of moonlighting on the catwalk and here we have him modelling the 1989/90 kit alongside Paul Wright and Peter Reid.

But back to the football:

The two Pauls in gurning competition

I must thank Steve Claridge for those invisible shin pads
Four mascots for today's game at Loftus Road
This picture featured in the column written by Michael Wale, former Editor of the BBC's Newsroom South East and our attention was grabbed by the word "Welling" two lines above the photograph. The article is about Paul getting into the England squad so we'll let Michael take the reins now:

"I don't think I'm annoying many Rangers fans when I say that Paul is the star of our team; a situation that has come about by a combination of natural talent, sheer hard work and off-field a total underplaying of his role. It was only a matter of time before the England management took notice, and against Yugoslavia he duly rewarded them by laying on the second goal for skipper Bryan Robson. A move, I'm afraid I did not witness because I was six miles away filming the FA Cup Second Round replay between non-league Welling and Reading. Such is my life.

A quick aside here. Apart from having to walk round the terraces to our camera position at Welling I had to brave the home supporters shouting: "What's a QPR supporter doing here?" But at the end I was rewarded. A father brought his young son over to our filming position and pointed to his lad's hat: It was QPR through and through!" And so it was that Paul Parker was linked to Welling United 13 years before he became manager.

The article then goes on to interview Paul about the England match, for which he shared a room with Tony Dorigo and Steve McMahaon. Dorigo was Paul's rival for a place in the team; even Paul expected him to play: "I mean he can use his left foot, I just stand on mine." There's lots of talk about lounging around and watching Neighbours, because it always made him sleepy! And now it's time for Paul to take up the commentary:

"It was a very different sort of game for me against Yugoslavia, because of playing at full back. I suppose over the last three, or three and a half years, I've only played full back 10 times. I'm used to being centre back. The grass is a lot more sapping there. You have to go forward a lot more as full back and when you done it once or twice, you think 'hold on this is a bit harder than normal'. Going forward as a central defender is more of a bonus, but a full back is always doing that. Then you have to get all the way back again. When I came off at half-time I was still breathing very hard.

"(After the game) You go up to the area of the players bar, and all your friends, the press and a lot of other people are there. I stood talking for quite a time, and didn't leave the ground till half past eleven. I'd left my car at the team hotel but it's only 10 minutes from home, so my wife drove me there. Then we got back home just past 12. I had a pre-cooked Safeways hamburge to eat, and watched the soccer (grrrrr) in bed.

"Looking ahead to the World Cup it's nice to know that instead of going just to make the numbers up, I have a chance of playing in the first game. That would really mean a lot to me."

Paul teaches the mascot about the finer things in life

Paul Parker tries out for GB Olympic Triple Jump team
Ooh! Suits you, sir!

Paul Parker models the new "aeroplane" boots

Spot the ball (or as QPR's caption writer put it: Paul Parker takes on the Arsenal attack single-footed)
WIE's not quite sure what's going on there but we're certain the two Dannys, Baker and Kelly, would have had a sound effect for it. Happy birthday, Paul; may you have many more, and at least one of us here at WIE Towers is glad you weren't at PVR this afternoon to witness his attempts at playing in your positions.