Parkinson to watch first Burnley game in three years

Lancashire Telegraph: Gary Parkinson Gary Parkinson

BURNLEY legend Gary Parkinson will watch the Clarets for the first time in just over three years when Sean Dyche’s side visit another of his former clubs Middlesbrough this afternoon.

The fixture will be Parkinson’s first game since suffering a stroke in September 2010, which has left him with locked-in syndrome a condition of almost paralysis.

Parkinson and the rest of his family have been invited as guests to the game by Middlesbrough chairman Steve Gibson and will watch the game from a hospitality box at the Riverside Stadium.

And Parkinson, who was a vital part of Middlesbrough’s back four during his playing career, believes Sean Dyche can guide Burnley to promotion this season – 10 years since Parkinson himself played a key role in one of the Clarets’ most memorable matches in recent seasons.

Clarets fans will remember that moment in 1994 like it was yesterday.

After a 3-1 aggregate win over Plymouth Argyle in the semi finals of the division two play-offs, Burnley went to Wembley to take on Stockport County.

The Clarets fell behind to an early County goal but David Eyres responded with a leveller.

Then cue the winner and Parkinson’s moment in Burnley’s history.

He prodded home the winner and celebrated with the Burnley fans creating an image that will long live in the memory.

“I had no idea what I was doing in the celebration,” said Parkinson of that day.

“The emotion just took over and carried me towards the Burnley fans. It wasn’t until a few days later that it actually sunk in.”

A winning trip to Wembley is something the club has only seen once since that time in 1994.

But Parkinson believes the current Burnley side might not need to rely on the lottery of the play-offs this time around instead insisting that they can cement an automatic spot on route to the Premier League.

Parkinson added: “Sean Dyche has done an excellent job since taking over at Turf Moor and has embedded a team spirit into his side that is required to gain promotion out of the Championship."

“It is key that the likes of Danny Ings and Sam Vokes stay fit and scoring goals if the Clarets want to push for an automatic place this season.

“Burnley have perhaps surprised a few teams this campaign with there results but I know better than most, that a bit of hard work and quality can take you a long way.”

The Clarets opponents, Middlesbrough are a club that Parkinson believes are a team in transition with new boss Aitor Karanka only taking charge at the start of November.

Karanka will be looking to upset the odds on Boxing Day by adding to his two wins so far as Middlesbrough manager. The Teessiders have had the better of this tie in recent years but Parkinson believes it will be a tough game to call.

“I will be a very tight game at the Riverside,” added Parkinson.

“Neither side will want to slip up and lose any momentum over the Christmas period.

“These games were always good to play in as both teams have passionate fans and Burnley may just have the edge this time with their current run of results.”

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