The world of non-league football became that little bit emptier last week with the sad news that Syd Parkinson died.
Syd, who was awarded the MBE for his services to football, was 97 when he passed away – but it was only in the last five years that a man who became known as the oldest physiotherapist in the world finally put down his magic sponge for the final time.
I got to know Syd in the 1980s when I was cutting my teeth covering Colne Dynamoes. He was the club’s physiotherapist and was a great character, loved by the players and Graham White as much as the fans.
So much so that when, as a sprightly 74-year-old, he ran onto the hallowed Wembley turf in 1988 to treat a stricken Dynamoes player during the unforgettable FA Vase triumph over Emley, the cheer for Syd was one that almost lifted the old stadium’s roof right off.
But Syd was more than just a character.
For year after year, amateur footballers used to visit his home for treat-ment on any niggles and the like. He used to repair the damage – he was loved throughout the sport.
Back in the 80s when Colne and Rossendale United were locked in Northern Premier League battle, the two rivals for the title were due to play each other and Rossendale striker Paul Beck – a fearsome beast of a hitman and a real danger to Colne’s hopes – was suffering a hamstring injury.
Twice in the week Beck’s dodgy hamstring was treated by Syd as he tried to get fit for the game.
I can’t remember the result of that game, nor if indeed Beck performed...but it was an astonishing gesture from a genuine nice guy to treat the main threat from the opposition ahead of what could have turned out to be a title decider.
But that was Syd.
After leaving Colne he worked for Rossendale and than Barnoldswick. He was loved at both those clubs.
He was loved throughout the game. That’s why two of the people who nominated him for his MBE were none other than Sir Alex Ferguson and Sam Allardyce.
I was sad when I was told of the news late last Thursday night – but at the same time memories came flooding back.
In a time when football’s morals seem to sink lower and lower with each passing week, Syd reminds everyone of the reasons why people play the game.
RIP Syd, enjoy that treatment table in the sky.