John Parke, Northern Ireland and Sunderland defender and member of Linfield’s 1961-62 seven trophy team, has died after a long battle with Alzheimer’s. He was 74.
Ironically his passing came on the same afternoon as collections for the Alzheimer’s Fund were being taken before and during the Linfield-Glentoran derby game at Windsor Park, scene of of his many personal triumphs
Parke began his career as an amateur with Cliftonville before joining Linfield in 1954, occupying every position during his reign at The Park. He was a competent performer who earned 14 internationals caps.
Cross-channel clubs quickly realised his talents and potential displayed at Cliftonville — among them Hibernian and Celtic with Hibs winning the race but he spent only a season at Easter Road, making 21 appearances, before he signed for Sunderland where, over four seasons, he developed into a Wearside favourite.
He bowed out of English football in 1968 to link up with the Belgian side KV Mechelen before finally coming back to Northern Ireland.
Harry Gregg, legendary Northern Ireland goalkeeper, said: “He was an excellent full back at a time when things were not going too well for Northern Ireland. He merited every one of his international caps.”
Sympathy from all in football are extended to his family.