It’s not every day you get a personal invite from David Moyes to come and meet some of Manchester United’s top players.
But for Blackpool FC favourite Gary Parkinson that’s exactly what happened.
Gary, who was left with locked-in syndrome following a stroke in 2010, and his family were invited to the club where he got to meet the players – including an old rival.
During his time as a player at Middlesborough, he faced off against current Man Utd winger Ryan Giggs in the League Cup.
The game ended 0-0 when the teams met at the Riverside Stadium in March 1992 and although Gary failed a fitness test ahead of the replay at Old Trafford, the former right back still remembers the first tie well.
His son Luke, who helped organise the trip, said: “Afterwards he was watching the video of the game and telling us about it.
“Every single one of the players came over and shook his hand and Giggs came and spoke to him.
“My dad has responded brilliantly and was really good all day. In fact, he’s been doing really well ever since we went to the Riverside (Middlesborough’s stadium) on Boxing Day.
“Since then it seems to have sparked him back up again and he’s not been having the negative thoughts he might have had before.”
The trip to the Middlesborough was Gary’s first football game since his stroke and Luke said being back around footballers has been good for his dad.
Parky, as he was affectionately known, played for Boro, Bolton, Burnley and Preston before joining Blackpool in March 2001. He made 24 league appearances for the Seasiders, winning promotion to the Second Division through the play-offs in the 2000–01 season. In 2006 he was appointed Head of Youth at the club.
‘I want to thank the club for dad’s unique day out’
Luke Parkinson said he was amazed at the way Manchester United’s superstar’s – including Wayne Rooney – treated his dad Gary.
He said: “I had been doing work with Radio Lancashire and was speaking to David Moyes, who offered the chance to come down. It was all sorted by David. It was brilliant for me too because I’m a Man Utd fan.
“Thank you to David Moyes and all the players and staff at Man Utd, for treating my dad and the rest of my family to a really unique experience.”