David Parkin on meeting a legend and words of wisdom from a barber

David Parkin on meeting a legend and words of wisdom from a barber

THEY say it is better to give than to receive.

IT certainly felt like that for me last week when we delivered our latest event for Sky.

The broadcaster brought together its 250 team managers from every corner of the UK to brief them on new communications technology which is being introduced.

We held the event in the Centenary Pavilion at Leeds United’s Elland Road stadium where the staff and catering were top class, everything clicking into place as smoothly as Marcelo Bielsa’s team in full flow against Derby County.

When we were setting up the previous day, one of the Sky team managers, Carl Wall, a big Leeds United fan who travels from Lincolnshire with his two sons to every home game, offered his help so he had an opportunity to have a close up look at Elland Road on a non-match day.

Carla Stockton-Jones, director of Home Service at Sky, asked if we could arrange for Carl to have a tour inside the stadium.

I wondered how we could make Carl’s experience even more memorable and thought it would be nice if possibly a little ambitious if he could be given a tour of Elland Road by a club legend.

Legends don’t grow on trees you see.

Remembering I met club stalwart Eddie Gray in Welcome to Yorkshire’s box at York Races last year, I got his telephone number and rang Eddie, who said he would be delighted to help.

When Carl arrived at the ground I said to him that we might be able to have a look around and we’d go across and wait outside the East Stand to see if someone would let us inside.

In the distance I could see a lean, grey haired figure, overcoat collar turned up against the chill January air, striding past the Billy Bremner statue.

As he got closer Carl clocked him.

“That looks like Eddie Gray…” he said.

“Wow, he was some player.”

“Hi Carl, I’m Eddie Gray, welcome to Leeds United.”

Carl’s jaw dropped.

Eddie, a cultured winger who played more than 450 games for Leeds, was a Scottish international and was voted the third greatest Leeds United player of all time behind Billy Bremner and John Charles, then took us on a full tour of the ground and sat and chatted to Carl in the changing rooms and the dug out.

What struck me is how smart the offices and hospitality areas are in the East Stand.

Eddie said that club chairman Andrea Radrizzani has focused attention on improving the approach off as well as on the pitch.

The Eddie Gray suite had a quote from manager Don Revie: “When Eddie Gray plays on snow he doesn’t leave any footprints.”

It was a fascinating glimpse behind the scenes of a football club which you wouldn’t usually get even if you took your binoculars.

:::

ONE of the most powerful pieces of TV I have watched in some time was broadcast by BBC2 on Holocaust Memorial Day called The Last Survivors.

It contained the testimony of survivors of the Holocaust who are all now aged in their 80s and 90s.

It’s broadcast coincided with the publication of a survey which found that one in 20 UK adults do not believe the Holocaust took place, while one in 12 believe its scale has been exaggerated.

Almost two-thirds of 2,000 respondents either could not say how many Jews were murdered or “grossly” under-estimated the number, the survey by the Holocaust Memorial Day Trust (HMDT) found.

I find this ignorance staggering and also very worrying.

I hope it is lack of knowledge and education rather than any other reason that would make someone doubt that the Holocaust happened.

The Nazis’ ‘Final Solution’ shows the depths of evil and depravity which human beings are capable of and is something that should never be forgotten or played down.

The testimony of those survivors, delivered with no sentimentality and surprisingly little bitterness or anger, should be a must watch.

:::

I’M currently on holiday in South Africa and so this week’s missive is a little shorter than usual – well I’m booked in for a breakfast wine tasting in Franschoek.

The blog will take a break next week and return a fortnight today.

South Africa is a stunning country.

We’ve spent the last few days in the winelands north of Cape Town and the heat was so intense yesterday at 37 degrees celsius that we retreated into the cool of a cafe off the main square in the university town of Stellenbosch.

Needing a haircut I spotted a sign for a barber across the street and walked to the end of an arcade where a young man was carefully clipping a customer’s hair.

He welcomed me and told me I’d be next in the chair.

A sign on the wall above his mirror proclaimed: “If u look good, u feel good and if u feel good u do good.”

Christian pop music played from a stereo on a desk and when it was my turn in the chair the barber spent as much time snipping, clipping and shaving my bonce as he would for his most hirsute client.

He said he liked football and I mentioned I live in Leeds but he hadn’t heard of Leeds United.

I said I was a supporter of Derby County but he hadn’t heard of them either.

When I told him our manager is Frank Lampard he said he’d definitely heard of him, “a Chelsea legend”.

“I”m an Arsenal fan,” he told me, “and I would love to give a haircut to one of their strikers like Aubamayang or Lacazette.”

I said I hoped that would one day happen for him.

In the meantime he has a signed photo of David Parkin, runner up in the Willows sports centre five-a-side league with team Hey Nony Nony, Derby, 1995.

As I said to Eddie Gray, there just aren’t that many of us legends about.

Have a great weekend.

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