He has played in play-off finals at Wembley and cup matches against the likes of Liverpool, Chelsea and Tottenham Hotspur, but nothing jangles Jon Parkin’s nerves more than walking out to bat for his local cricket club Darfield.
The 36-year-old, whose 20-year football career began at Oakwell and is still ongoing with non-league York City, is an all-rounder and hard-hitting batsman for the Darfield second XI. Parkin, who started playing for Darfield’s youth teams aged 13, told the Chronicle: “I played cricket a lot when I was younger but then, when I became a footballer, I couldn’t keep playing it as much.
“I still made sure I got a few games in for Darfield every summer, and this year I seem to be playing a lot more regularly, which I am enjoying. I get more nervous walking out to bat for Darfield 2nd XI than I have been for any games I have played as a footballer. I think it’s because I am not that good at cricket and I never know what’s going to happen. But I know a lot of people at Darfield and it’s a good environment.”
Parkin represented Barnsley schools as a cricketer and had trials at Yorkshire but said: “I was nowhere near good enough to make it as a professional. “I never liked facing fast bowling and I still don’t.“I am playing quite a lot of Twenty20 and I scored 53 off 18 balls a few weeks ago. When I hit it, it stays hit.
“They keep asking me to play in the first team at Darfield but I think that’s a bit too competitive for me. I prefer just having a laugh in the second team. We have a lot of young players and I try to give them advice and confidence but, if they want to improve, they definitely shouldn’t copy my batting because I just slog it. There’s not a lot of technique there.”
While Parkin is playing cricket for the club of his childhood, he is due to take on the footballing equivalent when Barnsley visit National League North side York for a pre-season friendly on July 10. He never scored in 12 appearances for the Reds, often playing at centre-back, before forging an impressive career as a striker in the Championship, mainly at Preston North End.
He is still a regular goal-scorer, having netted 20 for the Minstermen last season in the sixth tier. Parkin played ten matches against his hometown club, starting by scoring a brace in the first nine minutes for Hull City before the Reds came from 2-0 down to win 3-2 in 2006. He also netted for Preston in a 3-0 success at Oakwell in 2009.
Of the friendly, he said: “It should be good. “There’s a new manager down at Oakwell (Daniel Stendel) so it will be an interesting summer for them. “I am sure I will get a lot of requests for tickets from friends and family – the tight so-and-sos. “It’s always strange playing against Barnsley, and I still get stick for winning a penalty for Stoke on Boxing Day at Oakwell (a 3-3 draw in 2007).
“I used to enjoy those games because I got so many pelters in the build-up from Barnsley fans that it felt great to get one back over everyone. But I am still a Barnsley fan and I was very sad to see them go down. I go to a few of their games and, when I saw them concede in the last minute against Bristol City (a 2-2 draw in March), I thought they would get relegated.”
As well as playing football and cricket, and writing his autobiography, Parkin has started a podcast with another former striker Chris Brown. It is called Undr The Cosh and features interviews with former footballers, with ex-Reds Liam Lawrence and Tony Warner both being recent guests.
Jon said: “It’s going really well. “We are getting more listeners than we expected. “We’re doing a few World Cup videos and hopefully we will get some live shows organised soon, including in Barnsley. I think people like us because we are very brutally honest. “We say things that footballers and pundits shouldn’t really say. We don’t dress it up.
"It shows that footballers aren’t special or different to anyone else, we’re just normal blokes. Things happen in the dressing room that no one is supposed to find out about but we talk about it. It’s just a group of lads having a laugh.”