Sean Parrish

1996-2000 | 108 apps | 12 goals Central midfielder for Ian Atkins and the scorer of that goal against Cardiff City in the 1997 play-off semi-final.
Sean Parrish wearing 1996/97 Cobblers home shirt during a game

25 years on from Northampton Town’s first visit to Wembley Stadium – and our first win there – in the Division 3 Play Off Final, It’s All Cobblers To Me speaks to some of the legends of that era.

This time we’re speaking to midfield maestro and scorer of that goal at Cardiff in the semi-final, Sean Parrish.

So sit back and reminisce with one of our heroes ahead of the Wembley Anniversary event that we’re hosting on May 20th. Click here for ticket details.

Guest Bio:

Sean Parrish

Central midfielder, known best for that goal against Cardiff City.

How To Listen

transcript

Intro:

Good afternoon and welcome to Wembley. Grayson is clear. He’s got Parrish with him and it’s hooked away by Edwards. Dean Peer is on for Northampton Town as a replacement for David Rennie. Hunter poised to take yet another long throw. Samson forward, Warburton’s in there. Lee, who’s won a free kick right on the edge of the penalty area. Frain charged down by Coates. Frain again, and he’s got it! What a marvelous goal from John Frain.

Charles Commins:

Hello, and welcome to a bonus episode of the FSA award-winning It’s All Cobbles to Me, I’m Charles Commins. And as the 25th anniversary of the Cobbler’s win at Wembley in 1997 approaches, we are talking to some of the key people involved over the next few weeks and to help me do that on this episode is my good friend, Danny Brothers. How are you, Danny? You okay?

Danny Brothers:

Hey, good. I’m good. I’m very excited, Charles.

Charles Commins:

Are you?

Danny Brothers:

Very, very excited, yes.

Charles Commins:

Is that something to do with our special guest today?

Danny Brothers:

It is for sure, but always is. I’ve enjoyed this series and especially today I’m really looking forward to it.

Charles Commins:

Good. Well, today we have got another very special guest, as you know, Danny, according to the song, Sixfields Boys, he only scored once in a while, but when he did score, he made sure it was memorable. We may well be talking about one of those goals today. Let’s find out as we chat with the one and only Sean Parrish. How are you, Sean? You okay, mate?

Sean Parrish:

Yes, great. Thanks for inviting me on and chatting about that sort of goal in the season, really, and obviously finishing off with a successful trip to Wembley.

Charles Commins:

Yeah. Now I know you want to talk about that goal and we will get to it, I promise. We’ve set enough time aside for you, but I wanted to start with your career before the Cobblers just to set the scene. So you had a really good run for Telford United, where you’re now a member of their Hall of Fame and then went to Doncaster for a couple of seasons, which we always had tight games against Doncaster when you were there. What did you make of the Cobblers before you signed for us?

Sean Parrish:

Obviously, I knew they were having sort of financial difficulties or they were struggling, just a couple of years before new stadium and then I obviously heard, and obviously it was two years before, weren’t it? Because when I left Telford to go to Doncaster, I don’t know if it was lucky for me, Ian Atkins actually signed me for Doncaster but I never got to meet him. I think I met him once when I actually sort of signed. But in the meantime, before going and starting preseason, the chairman had sort of sacked him and got rid of him. So my time with Ian Atkins was very brief, but I don’t know if, like I say, it was a good thing or bad thing that two years later he actually signed me again. So he must have seen something in me that he quite liked.

Sean Parrish:

So yeah, obviously when he got in contact and obviously I’d had a couple years at Doncaster in the league, I had a taste for obviously league football coming out of sort of non-league through Telford because obviously I started off with Shrewsbury Town and went on loan to Telford and obviously I wanted to play men’s football.

Sean Parrish:

And even in the conference, back in the day, it was a good standard. It made me sort of learn. It made me grow up as a sort of man, in a way as a young boy to obviously just sort of learning my trade at the lower leagues. But obviously when I was in first team football in that first team environment, sitting on the bus, playing cards, having a can of beer on the way home after a game at Telford, I wanted the taste of it. And luckily enough, I got signed obviously for Doncaster through Ian, but it was a great two years learning at Doncaster. And then obviously Ian got hold of me and obviously spoke to me two years down the line, “Would you be interested in coming to Northampton?”

Charles Commins:

Was that an easy sell then in that case for Ian, do you think?

Sean Parrish:

Yeah, definitely. I think obviously it’s always nice when somebody, a manager does like you and does sort of want you, you feel wanted. So as I say, he must have seen something. I don’t know what, but he sort of pestered me and he can obviously drive a hard bargain as well and said, “Look, come down, have a look.” And obviously then the appeal of obviously the new stadium and things were happening obviously, I just thought, “Hang on a minute, this could be something, just something, fresh challenge really for me.” And I wasn’t bothered or worried, I’d go.

Sean Parrish:

It was just a matter of obviously being in league football again and obviously having the taste at Doncaster that, “Okay then, this might be a next stepping stone onto another career.” And obviously a contract is staying in the game for me, money didn’t… I never earned any big money. I think Ian didn’t even offer me any big money, that was the problem. But I was happy to play for nothing, because that was my dream as a young boy growing up back in Wales in Chirk, just outside Wrexham. All I wanted to do was play football and I would’ve done that for nothing, but it was nice obviously to get paid for what you enjoyed doing.

Danny Brothers:

You mentioned the stadium there and obviously mid 90s, Sixfields was actually one of the newer stadiums around. There’s not as many. It was one of the first of the new builds, I guess. Is that something that separated us from other clubs? Were there other clubs interested in you or was it mainly down to Atkins?

Sean Parrish:

Yeah, there was a couple, another chairman wanted me at the time. Doncaster, he sort of was forcing me down to maybe speak to Neil Warnock of Plymouth at the time. But I think that was only really to stop me going to Northampton because I think he must have obviously fell out with Ian at Doncaster at the time. So there was rumors of a couple of other clubs as well, but Mansfield, et cetera. But no, I wanted to go to, as I say, this new up and coming, obviously the ground obviously was a big appeal and as I say, I just thought, “No, I’m going to a manager who wants me.” He signed me two years earlier, obviously a brief spell of about a week and I thought, “Well, okay then, let’s see what Northampton’s got to offer.”

Charles Commins:

The first goal that you score, Sean, I don’t know whether you can remember, it’s in October 1996.

Sean Parrish:

God, I know. Was it Mansfield? I’m sure you’re testing me now, but…

Charles Commins:

It’ll be one of those. I mean you scored in four games out of five.

Sean Parrish:

Yeah, yeah.

Charles Commins:

So, I mean, was that a change of approach from you and Ian Atkins or did you sense that it was just coming for you as part of your game?

Sean Parrish:

I thought, to be honest again, I think the first few, I don’t know if I was, was I suspended or was I injured? Because I can’t remember starting the season. I think I was not in the team for either a suspension carried over from Doncaster maybe, or I’d had a hernia operation or something like that. So it took me a bit of time to get in the team if I recall. God and I might be, you might tell me different now, but I know, and Jason White always laughed about it because I was, again, I think at the time it was a 45,000 figure fee ar a tribunal as well. So not the pressure was on, because that’s not like 50 million in this day and age, but obviously it was quite a bit of money for obviously a club who obviously would struggle through the early years or the previous years.

Sean Parrish:

So, you know what I mean? So I felt a little bit of pressure as well and probably wasn’t playing. I say getting first in the team was a first sort of a challenge and then obviously performing well and I didn’t seem to do really well, but Jason always says he sort of took a couple of players on and squared it to me. And I think it was just a bundled ball in at Mansfield. I’m sure it was Mansfield at home, but I could be wrong. So you’re going to tell me different now, aren’t you?

Charles Commins:

Yeah. I’ve got Mansfield at home as your first game that you played in-

Sean Parrish:

Right, yeah.

Charles Commins:

… In August. Your first goal against Colchester in the October.

Sean Parrish:

Colchester, it could have been Colchester then, yeah. So that I can remember now Jason, just saying, “Look, obviously the pressure is on. Sean, you’re a bit stressed. You’re under pressure.” And I just squared it, took up a couple players on and squared it to me so I can remember bundling it in now so… And I just seemed to flow from there the confidence, obviously that the sort of pressure on my shoulders. It wasn’t, I say, not a massive amount of money, but like I say you just want to do well, you want to impress the fans, new club, the manager obviously is probably thinking, “Oh God, what have I done here?” sort of thing. So I’m sure Ian then was a bit relieved as well and we seemed to then, it just seemed to flow a little bit then. So goals, I popped up with a few goals that season and it just seemed to snowball really for me that the year.

Charles Commins:

Yeah, one of those goals was the last game with this, well the league season, before the playoffs that secured it. That was against-

Sean Parrish:

Scunthorpe.

Charles Commins:

… Scunthorpe. Well yeah, there you go. You’ve got one.

Sean Parrish:

Yes, I can remember that one. Yeah, little bit of a deflection. I think the keeper probably could have done a little bit better, but God, I think I can remember taking my top off and running down the line as well in front of the main stands. So-

Charles Commins:

That’s not like you.

Sean Parrish:

Yeah, but them things do stick with you, but I can’t remember, God and [inaudible 00:09:05] again, tell me different as well. I got injured. I don’t know if it… Was it a fractured eye socket and cheekbone against Chester as well, maybe winter time maybe? I can remember going that. I’m sure that was that season so I missed a couple of games there as well, but because I didn’t play against, I think the two Swansea games as well, away from home and at home. I know I was probably injured, and they’d beat us both home and away that year as well, they were going into the game. But I know at the end of the season we were the form team and I can remember seeing an interview that we were the, yes, they’d beat us home and away in the league, but we were the form team going into them playoffs and we sort of didn’t fear anybody for a place but proved to be the case.

Danny Brothers:

Is there any mini celebrations done at the end of that Scunthorpe game? You’ve finished fourth, you’ve secured a playoff place, potentially doing a little bit better than people thought. Is there anything from Atkins or as you as players to think, “This is a good job done, let’s celebrate,” or is it straight down to business after?

Sean Parrish:

Yeah, no, it was sort of maybe 10 or 11 days as well between the end of the season so the training, you know what I mean? You wanted it straight right away in a way. I think the two semifinals were very close together, but there seemed to be a little bit of a break in between the, so you want to, you want to finish that last game and then get onto the next one. So, but like I say, I think all through the season, just the team spirit, that’s what got us through. And Ian, again, the players will say, sometimes he sort of rubbed people up the wrong way but he got the best out of players. We weren’t a talented group really we’ll say, others might say, “No, we were, we were, we were, we were good at what we had to do.”

Sean Parrish:

And Ian organized us around, obviously got us in a team shape, playing in a certain way and he chose them individuals and we had a good squad as well. If people were out the team, we had, sometimes if we were not in, Dean Peer, Mickey Warner. There was teams that obviously players to replace, obviously Christian Lee, Jason White, all over the pitch really.

Sean Parrish:

There was people to come in and fill some of these shoes if people were out the team. But no, he definitely got the best out of players and it was just the team spirit off the pitch because we had a few social evenings as well. Yeah, it was the team spirit that definitely got us together and got us through because at times, God, the dressing room just went, it’s an old cliche, the dressing room run itself, but it did. It was big characters, Samo, Ray at the back, obviously Woody. God, you know what I mean? It was formidable sometimes and then you had the Birmingham mafia used to come over, Clarkson, Frain, Gayle, Peer. It was just a good place to be.

Charles Commins:

I love the fact that I know that when we spoke to Ian Clarkson for the first episode of this series, he was a little bit more… He kind of wanted to dispel that rumor, that we were just a team that got successful down to the spirit of the players in the team. And he wanted to say, “Yes, that was definitely a factor, but at the same time…” And he mentioned you specifically as being one of the players that did have some skill and are good footballers and deserve the credit that maybe the team for that season doesn’t necessarily get all the time, especially when you’re looking back sort of in hindsight.

Sean Parrish:

You’re probably right there again, because again, I’ll never say I was the… I played at a lower league football, I was a lower league footballer, but when you looked at, I say Ian and John who played at Birmingham at a high level, Roy Hunter, you know what I mean? There was some good players there, like I say, Neil Grayson, who, God, probably still playing now, Neil is, I don’t know. You know what I mean?

Charles Commins:

Still scoring.

Sean Parrish:

It was just a fantastic group. Exactly, yeah, definitely. But like I say we probably did, we probably, it wasn’t that, and Ian’s probably definitely right to say that, “No, we were some good players. On our day, we could mix it.” Don’t get me wrong, you had big John Gayle and obviously Ray and Samo, people like that. And they were, we could mix it. We could, obviously not saying people wanted to fight, we weren’t fighters, but we could stand up for ourselves and that was Ian. That come from Ian as well because he was, you know what I mean? He used to get going and get us geed up. Well, you’ve got to, because league two football isn’t all about playing pretty football. But when we did have to play, we could play, we could put on some good performances and we did at times. We had some good games and we could score some good goals that year as well. So no, we could play, we could do a bit of both, definitely.

Danny Brothers:

I wanted to ask you Sean, as well about Ian Atkins. We’ve heard a lot of stories about what he did. Is there anything, any favorites of yours that he did in terms of winding up the away support or the away team that he did? Because we’ve heard a lot of things.

Sean Parrish:

Well, the most one that sticks out for me was, well, Fulham away. I think again, I’ve got the little on my phone, actually, with the fixtures, but I think we played Fulham was it the last, towards the end of the season? Maybe, I’d say, looking and I think they’d got promoted, I think they-

Danny Brothers:

Yeah.

Charles Commins:

Is that one we won one-nil, wasn’t it?

Sean Parrish:

Yeah, won one-nil, and that was Jason White, wasn’t it, I think?

Danny Brothers:

Yeah.

Sean Parrish:

And he said, “Right, we’ll go, this is what we’ll do.” Because obviously the corner of Craven Cottage, they’d come out and they run to the home end at the far end. He said, “Right, what we’re going to do, line up on the halfway line. We’re going to give them a bit of a sort of guard of honor sort of thing. Well, as they come in running towards us, we’re going to run into their end and warm up in their end.”

Sean Parrish:

And it was like, “You what?” So we’re like, okay, so we’re all there. So we have to obviously, because that’s what that manager wants, so we’re on there, get out a little bit early, clap, and they’re running towards us, it’s like a scene out of Zulu sort of thing, or bloody Braveheart. They’re running at us and then we turn round and run into their half and warm up and it’s like, then they sort of stop and think, “What’s going on here?” And it was surreal really.

Sean Parrish:

But them were the things that he tried to get, them little, just mind games, really. Mind games with them. I know the one that sort of backfired, he’d got sort of us… I don’t think it was me, but there was some pictures of us looking mean. So we were all looking mean and he got them in a frame, so it was head shots of the players in the away dressing room, all painted the away dressing room black as well because when they turn up, it’s all cold and gray and black. So we had black walls just to get into the minds of the opposition.

Sean Parrish:

But I think it was Lincoln who actually thought, well, they’ve got some of the pictures off the walls and they’ve sort of ripped them in half. So they’ve got half of John Gayle’s head with maybe John Frain’s mouth on and some… And it was like, “Oh my God.”

Sean Parrish:

So little things like that, which you’d try and do and would work, but it would work, I don’t know. But yeah, but then the sort of downside of it is, if you had a bit of a away defeat, it would be obviously having a drink on the back of the bus and a bit… And then God rest his soul, Denis Casey, who’s no longer with us, he’d tell Dennis, they’d sit at the front and we’d pull up just outside Sixfields and Denis would come, literally he’d say, “Sorry, lads. Nine o’clock tomorrow morning, you’re training, Sunday.” The next thing, the bus has stopped. Ian Atkins is jumping off the bus, into his car and the car’s shot off past TGIs, he’s on his way back to Birmingham. And we’re like, “What, what? Tomorrow?”

Sean Parrish:

You know what I mean? So-

Danny Brothers:

Denis was the messenger that-

Sean Parrish:

Yeah, exactly. Denis has come up there, “Fair play to you, lads. Sorry, gaffer has just said you’re in tomorrow.” And before you know it, “What? What? Where is he?” The next thing, you can see his car pulling off past TGIs. He’s into the wind, into the sunset, but he was a character, he was. And like I say, we just looked for them little bits of mind games that could change, just a little bit of an advantage really. You know what I mean? And he would do some things, but yeah, I liked him. I liked just the way he was and he knew his job. Everybody knew his job, knew what he wanted, knew what he expected from him. And we all did that to it, to a man, really. So it was good.

Charles Commins:

Have you taken any of his techniques into your coaching career at all?

Sean Parrish:

No, not really. I keep saying, “The game’s not changed in a way. It’s simple.” You know what I mean? I know when we look back in the day, we did play three at the back. Ian did, obviously the final at Wembley, sometimes you don’t think, but he had David Rennie, Samo and Ray’s there, then he had John Frain and he had Clarkson. And so we were playing three at the back and that was even 25 years ago. So when people say, “Oh yeah, three at the back.” No, I’m not saying that Ian was way before his time, don’t get me wrong, but he wasn’t a mug, he knew the game, you know what I mean? And he knew what he wanted out of his players. He knew what the opposition would give you. So he’d do his homework, he had good men around, good scouts. You know what I mean? Ken Wilson, Ken Broadhurst.

Sean Parrish:

So he was no mug as such, he knew his stuff. But yeah, he’s again, you’d learn. I think you’d take bits off every coach you’ve come under, you know what I mean, at times? And like I say, it was just his personality and his little, I don’t know, his ways, his mannerisms sometimes.

Sean Parrish:

I think we’d probably sort of laugh behind his back sometimes, what he’d do on the touchline manner and things like that. But no, as I say, I liked him. I think we all had respect for him. At times, sometimes the manager, you’re shaking your head or you’re huffing and puffing, but at the end of the day, he’s doing it for a reason, to get a reaction off you. And some of that, and he did that, you know what I mean? And he’d say something to somebody and he’d say something to somebody else and before you know it, he knew what he was doing. So he was clever, fair play.

Charles Commins:

Danny, I’ll let you go for this because I know you’re exciting.

Danny Brothers:

I think we’ve waited long enough. So we’re up against Cardiff in the play-offs, away leg first at Ninian Park, tough place to go. Mark Cooper gets sent off against Cardiff for the second time that season, I think it was. So he’s then missed, I think he actually, he missed both the semi and the final, didn’t he, after that? So usually you’d go into that situation, you’d think, “Right, settle back, take the draw. Let’s get home.” You step forward and have different ideas. So here we go, tell us about the goal.

Sean Parrish:

Oh God, I still can’t… I still can’t believe I did it in a way, because I just sort of say at the time, I think Cardiff’s players had a shot and one of our lads had blocked it and it’s just come to me and the proper story, the real story is, I’m thinking, “Well, there’s nothing much on, we’re down to 10 men [inaudible 00:19:36]” And then I sort of looked, I think David was on the left wing. I sort of looked to go and play him, the lad in front of me sort of blocks the pass so I sort of drag it in front of me, in front of him, didn’t have much pace at the time, but I’ve seemed to get away from a couple of players. And then I’m thinking, “Well, I can’t do much more. There’s nothing else in front of me. I’m just going to hit it.”

Sean Parrish:

And obviously, I’ve hit it well, the keeper’s off his line, blah, blah, blah, and it’s gone in, and obviously I just can’t to this day, how I did it and why I did it and how I did it is a mystery. But in a way, the story goes, obviously I’m not going to give it to big John Gayle because he’s going to miscontrol it. It’s going to come back to us. I’ve got Ian Atkins on the side just going, “Put it in the corner, boot it in the corner, Parrish! Just kick it in the corner!” Wasted time, but then, you know what I mean? It was surreal really at the time, because as I say, down to 10 men and we were under the cosh the day, going back now to the start, the sun was out then it was raining, the sun come out again.

Sean Parrish:

And like I say, then we lose a man, we’re down to 10 men. We rode our luck at time, but we defended well, I said, God, again, Ray, Samo headed things, blocked things. Woody come on, well, he didn’t come and punch things because he’s never come and punch or caught anything so he just relied on Ray and Samo to head things away, but we stuck at it.

Sean Parrish:

And I say, and to get that goal really just for being a Welshman and North Walian as well from Wrexham, that was the icing on the cake really. But yeah, to have a one-nil lead going into the home leg then at Sixfields, it wasn’t game over because again, they come out and obviously they surprised us as well on the, I think it was the Wednesday after or whatever, it was a nice, sunny evening then at Sixfields. But yeah, to have a one-nil lead to go into it, down to 10 men was a bonus. You would’ve took nil-nil definitely at the time. I can’t remember, when did Mark actually get sent off? Was it…

Danny Brothers:

It was about a few minutes before, it was about five, six minutes before I think, yeah.

Sean Parrish:

Oh, was it? Right, so, yeah, we were hanging on and we were under the cosh, but yeah, I can picture it now and then going in and then that was it. It was just running over to the away fans and sliding on my belly and just out breath really because I was just knackered. It was hanging on. It was, as I say, but then you celebrate, the sun comes out and I know the fans, well hopefully everybody got out alive I think, at the end of the day, maybe minus a few car windows or bust windows. But no, it was definitely a day to remember and I say that it just set up the second leg really nice.

Danny Brothers:

My main takeaway from that, what you just described the goal again is John Gayle’s on the left wing. What’s he doing there?

Sean Parrish:

Exactly, I haven’t got a clue. It was like, because we just said, when we got for [inaudible 00:22:24], 4-4-1 or whatever, just down to 10 man. We’ll leave Gayle up there, we’ll hit a few balls up to him and then just battle for things really. But yeah, it was just like, I’ve looked up and I’m thinking, “God, there’s nothing. There’s nothing on,” because nobody was there really. So I’ve had to just, I’m not going to say it was like a Pelé moment on the Escape to Victory and I do this and this and this and go, it wasn’t like that at all. But I’d like to think it was, but no, it was just literally just get up the pitch and take the ball for as far as away and probably as in clear the goal and put it in the away fans and let the away fans hold the ball for a few minutes. But yeah, when it nestled obviously in the corner, it was a great feeling and I say one I’ll never forget.

Danny Brothers:

Yeah. Best goal of your career?

Sean Parrish:

Yeah, it’s got to be, I think the goal against Tottenham, was it the year after or the… I enjoyed that one against Tottenham in the Carling up. And then I did score a play-off winning goal actually for Telford in 2004, 2005, but that was on Unibond Division One against Kendal Town, it hasn’t got the same appeal. But I’m just gutted that the shot at Wembley got cleared off the line, bloody Neil Grayson had put me a bit wide and I scuffed the shot actually, but I think it was Christian Edwards cleared off the line at Wembley. But like I say, I’ll let John Frain take all the plaudits for that one.

Charles Commins:

Share the wealth, share the wealth, Sean. That’s what it is.

Sean Parrish:

Yeah, definitely.

Charles Commins:

I mean, Danny’s written some questions here and one of them is, do you ever recreate them for any of the younger members of your family? What I’d love to know is, do you ever get out on the training pitch with the Under-23s at Wolves and just go, “Here you are, lads, I’ve got something to show you.”

Sean Parrish:

No, I wish I could. I’m waiting for a total hip replacement, so I can’t do it at the minute, but I did a few years ago, we did go to the new stadium at Cardiff and we had a sort of end of season or friendly or whatever with the Under-16s at the time. And I did have to say, “Look, come here, come here,” and when everybody had gone in the dressing room, I stayed out and it was a bit of a phoenix from the flames moment. But it wasn’t executed in the style by all means, it wasn’t identical, but I had a go. But yeah, my first few years, when you sort of said, “Come and have a look at this, have you seen this on YouTube?” And I’d show them it, but I think they’re tired of seeing it now so I don’t show them anymore. I wish I could turn back the clock and definitely relive it again, definitely.

Charles Commins:

I think we all do, to be honest with you. It’d be absolutely cracking if we could have that every week.

Sean Parrish:

Definitely.

Charles Commins:

So you’ve got 10 days in between the semi-final second leg and the final.

Sean Parrish:

Yep.

Charles Commins:

What are those celebrations like? How long do they last before you actually get back down to business?

Sean Parrish:

Yeah, no, I’d like to say a couple, I think it was a couple of days just to, again, that night probably the next day recovering and maybe again, I don’t know if we went for a drink or a bit of a meal together as well.

Sean Parrish:

But then it was literally back down to work really then, most of the time was training on the pitch anyway. Obviously I know the song and the band and they sort of come onto obviously the side of the pitch, but a lot of the training was done on the pitch because obviously the pitch was obviously not needed anymore so that’s where we did a lot of the training at the end of the season. And it just built up obviously, I wouldn’t say nice pitch, it was getting obviously the end of the season so the quality of the pitch wasn’t great, but it was just nice to be there in one place. We could take our time and like I say, and build up to how we were going to beat Swansea. But obviously again, going into that was, we were the form team. I kept saying, that they’d beat us home and away, but I always obviously thought going into it, we were the form team.

Charles Commins:

Did you think that you maybe needed to have that couple of days of celebrations and to get it out of your system almost, so that you could then go back to training fresh to go for the final?

Sean Parrish:

Definitely, definitely. You had to refocus, you had to celebrate because you couldn’t bottle it all up, you would be bursting. So as I say, we had a couple of good drinks but then it was, it was back down to business because then you could refocus and say, “Come on, then. We still haven’t achieved anything,” because obviously they keep saying, and obviously my only time at Wembley but it’s not, it’s a horrible place to lose sort of thing and we didn’t want that. And to go there as a young boy who we’d watch probably every cup final since about 1980, I think, and whatever, and I’d watch it for five minutes and then I’d be in the backyard and pretending I was Kenny Dalglish and Ian Rush and being one of the players who were actually playing on the final sort of thing.

Sean Parrish:

So that was my dream. And like I say, to enjoy the moment, really, to enjoy that semifinal few days, have a good blowout but then sort of refocus. But you were still inside every day, every night I was going to sleep dreaming, I was going to score the winner or be involved in something because that was my dream. That was for me to say, “I’ve played at Wembley” and to be a footballer, one thing, but to play at Wembley as well to say I’ve actually graced the hallowed turf and experience that was a dream come true.

Danny Brothers:

So talking of cup finals around the time, it seemed to be quite a big thing to have a song out. I think Chelsea had a pretty good one for that ’97 final. What did the players make of Sixfields Boys firstly, when you first heard it? Secondly, when they came down to the ground to film all the stuff with you guys on the drums and the…

Sean Parrish:

Yeah, drums. I can remember Samo doing, [inaudible 00:28:07] like me, Roy and Mickey Warner had a guitar with some shades on or some [inaudible 00:28:12]. Exactly.

Sean Parrish:

See, it’s coming back to me now, God, but no, it was good. It was just catchy. It was a local band. I think it was Warehouse-

Danny Brothers:

Warehouse.

Sean Parrish:

… band. So it was just, it was good. It was the done thing, wasn’t it? And the Wembley suits, getting them off Nationwide. I know we had some suits off Marks & Spencers and all that. We had some shoes from Church’s shoes, I think we had as well. So it was, we’d done it, rising the club did it, you know what I mean? It was a big thing. And to be the hundredth year as well, obviously the first ever Wembley appearance, it couldn’t have fell any better, really, if you’d have written the script, you couldn’t have written it any better. The whole buildup and then the band, and I say, it was a little catchy little number, you know what I mean?

Sean Parrish:

I bought the little cassette, I don’t know where it is, but I haven’t got a cassette player anymore, but yeah, it was a catchy… And as I say, the lads bought into it, but the atmosphere around it, and that was down to again, to Ian and the staff. It was a relaxed atmosphere. You wanted to be relaxed. We went down there the night before and everything just seemed to, you didn’t want to be pressured, wasn’t it? You were there to enjoy, but there to enjoy it, obviously when you won and obviously, ultimately we did that.

Charles Commins:

Yeah, not half as well. Because I mean, it’s probably the most memorable day in the club’s history. What’s it like for you knowing that you’re a big part of what is such a big part of an entire football club’s history?

Sean Parrish:

Its massive, it is, it’s kind of folklore history, whatever it is. John Frain’s scored the winning goal, you know what I mean? And again, everybody will be John Frain Day and things like that, years to come and no doubt he should get a bit, it was a team effort. Yes, I played a little bit part of it, the season, but to have how many, 46 games or whatever it was over the season and then to get to the playoffs. Yes, it’d be great to go up and to be as champions but the next best thing is going up as a Wembley winner and we did that. But to have that, I say to, if you could write a script any better, in a hundred years of Northampton, the last minute, the last kick of the game, it was written in the stars for me.

Sean Parrish:

And like I say, to be a part of that, to play a small part because everybody did, they’ve all chipped in the lads who’ve played five games, the lads who’ve played 10, 15, 20 games and 40 games. We’ve all played that part in it. But yeah, to have that little piece of sort of the history that obviously I scored that goal in the semi-final to potentially get us there, but the team got us there. And then obviously John Frain did what he did or the referee helped John Frain probably moved the ball and you know what I mean? The rest is history, so it’s fantastic.

Danny Brothers:

Do you remember what Ian said to you just before you went out? His last words before, was it like a rousing speech or was it a simple?

Sean Parrish:

No, I can remember this. Again the other, I don’t know if again, if this is well known, but he would say, “Get them wound up in the tunnel.” You know what I mean? Obviously you’d have big John Gayle, you’d have Ray and Samo. So John Gayle and Carl Heggs had a bit of a set to in the tunnel. It’s obviously probably well known and obviously then so yeah. I mean, God, I didn’t want to fight anybody in the tunnel, you know what I mean? But if Gayle wanted to, I’d be behind Gayle, you know what I mean? So, they’ve had a bit of a set to and get Heggs could look after himself. So Heggs thought, “I am not standing for this,” which he wouldn’t because Atkins is, “Come on, Gayle, get into them, get into them in the tunnel.”

Sean Parrish:

So Heggs, he’s obviously stepped up to him and whatever. And then obviously in the summer, when we come back for preseason, Carl Heggs comes to sign. Somebody comes in the dressing room, “Gayle, Heggs from Swansea, he’s in the office down the bottom there,” which was the reception and the club shop.

Sean Parrish:

So John Gayle, obviously, as he does, goes into the club shop and then Heggs comes up and they have a set to in the club, I think Janet’s monitor, the screen gets broken on the reception, there’s kit going flying. He’s got a ripped shirts, he’s bit of a scratch, bit of a cut eye, whatever. He goes up to talk to Ian Atkins in a bloody shirt that’s half ripped with a bit of a cut and you’re thinking, and then they shake hands and they’re best of buddies after.

Sean Parrish:

So you couldn’t… That’s never heard of, in a way, but that’s the type of things that, not Ian wanted us to do, but he wanted us to get under the skin, have them little advantages, see if you can just get that little 1% advantage and it probably didn’t work. It probably didn’t because, you know what I mean? We scored in the last minute so they didn’t crumble because they had some big characters in their team as well, Swansea.

Sean Parrish:

So yeah, Mølby was a Liverpool legend, hero for me. You know what I mean? Playing against him at Wembley and then God, I’ve seen him slide Ian Rush in for two goals against Everton and things like that. So it’s like, God, this is unreal really for me so I can’t really remember what he actually said. It was just a, probably just stick together, go and enjoy it, but that sort of walk and the bus, we went around Wembley a little bit longer where we were literally stopped at the Wembley Hilton.

Sean Parrish:

We could have walked to the ground, I think, but we… No, we were in Watford actually, but we took the bus a bit of a tour so we could obviously take the atmosphere in. Then you drive into obviously into the actual tunnel back in the day, when Wembley the bus was there, you literally get off the bus into the dressing rooms and then you obviously you go up for the warmup. And then you come back in and then obviously the fireworks or the ticker tape goes off and you’re walking out on onto Wembley to play probably the biggest game. Well, is the biggest game in my career.

Charles Commins:

I love that. I absolutely love it. And I love the fact that obviously you get to play against Jan Mølby who’s quite clearly a hero and an inspiration to you. What was that like getting to play with such a legend in your eyes?

Sean Parrish:

Yeah, no, it was unbelievable, you just can’t… Surreal, when you think God, he was the player manager at the time, and then he signed me for Kidderminster a few years later as well, then he released me as well. So you know what I mean? But you couldn’t have everything, but no, it was just a dream. I say, I wouldn’t care who I was playing for or against. Great it was Northampton, great it was Swansea and Jan played, but that was my dream. That was, if I’d have done anything in my life, that’s my biggest achievement and I say to win and how we did at the end, with the last kick of the game, it was unbelievable. My family, friends were there in the stand and a day that will never, ever, ever leave me and I don’t want it to, so great memories.

Charles Commins:

Sean, it’s been an absolute pleasure speaking to you and reminiscing about that marvelous year and the other three years that you spent at Sixfields as well. Thank you so much for coming on, it’s been an absolute pleasure.

Sean Parrish:

No. Again, glad you to inviting me to come on and share some memories. And they were good times, as I say, when you talk about them, I can feel that buzz. You can hear, like I say, you can sometimes feel it. You can see that, you can picture them moments and you can smell the dressing room even. And just them moments of a team spirit and a team togetherness that got success by obviously being organized, being disciplined, again, working hard on and off the pitch, being organized with a manager who sometimes we disliked, but deep down, we all liked him. But yeah, he would get the best out of us in uncertain ways, in his manner. And it was a great achievement for the team and for the town and it’s a town close to my heart. And obviously the club that obviously I played there for four years and it’d be nice to get back if I can make it. I’m sure I’ll make it. If I can’t, then it could be the 50 year reunion hopefully. So, but no, thank you for inviting me on and it’s been a pleasure.

Charles Commins:

Thanks, Sean. We’ll be back with more from the class of ’97 in the coming weeks and don’t forget to book your place at the anniversary event on Friday the 20th of May at Sixfields. You can book a place for both our forum and the hospitality beforehand with some of the club legends involved from just a fiver by getting in touch with the club or visiting the club website. We’ll see you again soon.

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