Jack Parry played for Derby Boys and signed for the Rams in July 1948, a time when Raich Carter and Billy Steel were at the club. A one-club man, Parry remained at the Baseball Ground for 20 years and set a club record 482 League appearances in the 1965/66 season (517 appearances in total) until Kevin Hector overtook it. Parry is also the Rams ninth highest goalscorer in all competitions with 110 goals, and his 105 goals makes him Derby County’s fifth highest League scorer.
An inside forward, Parry made his debut aged 17, and scored, in a 2-2 draw at home to Aston Villa in April 1949. He played sporadically until the last four games of the 1950/51 season and was leading scorer in 1951/52 with 11 goals in 28 League games. Parry’s best scoring season was 24 goals in 34 League games in 1955/56 but was injured by Ray de Gruchy’s challenge playing Grimsby at the Baseball Ground in March 1956. The back injury sustained in the game meant Parry was sidelined for the rest of the season and without his goals, Grimsby went on to win the Third Division North and take the only promotion place. The injury limited Parry’s contribution the following season and he made 18 appearances, scoring seven goals, as Derby won the title. In the Second Division, Parry became club captain and converted to wing-half but eventually lost his place in 1965/66 and spent 18 months in the Reserve team before moving on to Boston United in 1967.
Parry was a popular member of the dressing room. A well-known tale is when trainer Ralph Hann was treating him in a match for suspected concussion. Hann asked Parry where he was. “I’m at Wembley” replied Parry. “We’re beating Brazil 2-0 – and I’ve scored both.”
The article below, written by Parry, is taken from the January 1957 issue of Charles Buchan Football Monthly.
Jack Parry – Derby inside-right, sticks his neck out and says It’s Derby County for promotion.
I’m going to stick my neck out and declare: “It’s Derby County for promotion this season” – and no wisecracks please, you “old boys” at Boston, who tanned us so thoroughly in the Cup last year!
Why didn’t we hit the Second Division trail last time? Because we dropped a number of points before Christmas and just couldn’t manage to close the gap at the critical stage. I know if we don’t make it next time, I’m in for a ragging from my brothers Ray at Bolton, Cyril with Notts County and Glen with Heanor Town. I’ve often wondered what it must be like to play against your own brother.
Oddly enough, when Derby were in the First Division, I always hoped to find Ray on duty with Bolton, but somehow it invariably happened that when he was with the first team, I was in the reserves, or vice-versa. Last season all four of us were playing at inside-forward, and I was fortunate enough to win the goal-getting race with 27. If they’d like a hint or two on how to get ‘em I’ll try and oblige!
I’ve always preferred to operate at right-half. The reason is that, as a forward you invariably receive the ball with your back to your opponent’s goal. So you have to rely on your team-mates calling you, either to hold it, kick it first time, or use the square ball, as the case may be. At wing-half, you are facing the field of play and you can see five forwards ready to receive your pass.
My pet bogey man is Harry Bell, the ex-Middlesbrough wing-half. I used to hate playing against Harry, for he usually acted as a sixth forward, and instead of him marking me, I had to mark him. It was like catching an eel! I used to run miles chasing him with my tongue hanging out, because he’s the type of attacking wing-half who could cause havoc in any defence. Harry is now with Darlington, and when we played there last season, I was delighted to see he was operating at inside-right. Had he been in his normal position I should have wanted a pair of roller skates!
The funniest incident I ever remember on a playing field occurred at Grimsby last season – although our goalkeeper Terry Webster still can’t understand why we laughed. During a skirmish in our goalmouth, Terry’s shorts got ripped. Our trainer brought him a new pair and half-a-dozen of the lads formed a circle around him while he changed into them. Just as he had slipped off his torn pair, one player walked out of the circle leaving Terry looking like a star turn in the Foiles Bergere. Some of the crowd thought it highly amusing.
Many folk today seem intrigued about what the average professional footballer has to eat before a match. I’ve known some who wouldn’t touch a morsel. At the Baseball Ground we don’t believe in special dieting, and I’ll give you the reason why. Two seasons ago when the Hungarians were on top of the football world, many people discussed not only their warm-up on the field before the kick-off (since adopted by many English sides), but the fact that they were supposed to eat plenty of prime steak at the pre-match lunch. In that particular year we had a match at Port Vale, and instead of the normal chicken or boiled fish before the game we gave the steaks a try-out. Then we went out hoping to play like eleven Hungarians, instead of which we performed like eleven chorus girls and got licked 3-0. So that’s why steaks are a banned topic at Derby County’s headquarters!
I am a one-club man, joining the “Rams” at 15 after assisting Derby Schools’ Old Boys in the local Sunday Schools’ League. We won all our 18 games, netting 218 goals and conceding only nine. This attracted the attention of Derby County who invited us to play their Colts. We did, and lost 5-2, but they signed all of us on amateur forms. Oddly enough, I’m the only one of that team still to be wearing County’s colours. My four brothers and I originally played for Nottingham Road School (now Derwent Secondary) and we all represented the town boys’ team, both at football and cricket. Following in out footsteps (we hope!) are two of our younger brothers. I hope they keep up the family tradition.
My ambition? It still is, and always will be, to play for Derby County at Wembley. Ever since I was knee high to a grasshopper I have dreamed of that day, and, who knows, it may yet be realised. I believe in all professional footballers doing their best to keep fit during the “off season.” They say: “Good at one ball game: good at another.” I believe that works out very well on the whole. Personally, I’m a cricket fiend, and my biggest regret is that last summer I wasn’t able to play because of a back injury received at the end of last March.