David Parkin avoids telling porkies, remembers a football great and finds his inner gangster

IT is never a good thing when you receive an email from a company which begins with the words: “We’ve been sent your blog by our solicitors”.

Deep intake of breath. Having avoided the threat of litigation from Ken Bates when he was chairman of Leeds United, I don’t really want to start answering to m’learned friends now.

Fortunately the statement was followed with “Nothing legal, they’d just spotted our name.”

The email was from Richard Brown at Vale of Mowbray Pork Pies, who I had mentioned last week as they had been a sponsor of the fantastic Yorkshire’s Rio Heroes parade of Olympians and Paralympians in Leeds.

I had observed that Vale of Mowbray sounds like a business which hails from the pork pie capital of Melton Mowbray in Leicestershire, but apparently they have been “Baked in Yorkshire since 1928”.

Thanks to Richard I am now much more of an expert on the Vale of Mowbray and its pork pies.

The picture above shows the City of Leeds Pipe Band enjoying Vale of Mowbray Pork Pies at the parade.

What a quintessentially Yorkshire image.

“We have indeed been baking delicious Pork Pies here in Leeming Bar for the last 80 odd years, in fact the site we are on started out as the Vale of Mowbray brewery back in 1795. We’ve now stopped brewing beer to focus on baking the best Pork Pies in Yorkshire, but we are very proud to be associated with two quintessentially English products – a pie and a pint,” he told me.

“Although we do share part of our name with that lot from Leicestershire, the Vale of Mowbray is an actual place, it’s the historic name for the area of lowland between the Yorkshire Dales to the West and the North Yorkshire Moors to the East.”

Richard even enclosed a map of the said Vale of Mowbray and I can confirm it stretches from Middleton Tyas in the north to Dalton and Kilburn in the south and across from Bedale in the west to Osmotherley in the east, taking in the large market towns of Thirsk and Northallerton.


“The paint is just drying on a new £10m extension to our main bakery, so if you are around and about the area, we will happily give you a tour of the bakeries, tell you some more about the business and help you sample of few of our pies,” added Richard.

I do plan to take him up on the invitation.

Well, anything to avoid litigation.


IT’S been another eventful week for UKIP.

First the political party’s leader, Diane James, resigned after just 18 days in the job.

Then one of the favourites to replace her, Steven Woolfe, was taken to hospital after he collapsed following an altercation with fellow UKIP member of the European Parliament in Strasbourg, said to be Mike Hookem, who represents Yorkshire and North Lincolnshire.

This lot make the Labour Party look like The Waltons.

It strikes me that having strived to get a referendum on whether Britain should remain in the European Union, and then surprisingly seen their desire to leave the EU backed by a majority of voters, they no longer have a lot to fight for.

So they are fighting each other.

Sadly in this most recent case, quite literally.


AMID the tacky and sordid headlines that surrounded football last week and which resulted in the departure of England manager Sam Allardyce after just one match, the passing of a true great of the sport was somewhat overlooked.

Mel Charles, who has died at the age of 81, played for Swansea, Arsenal and Cardiff and, like his older brother, the late, great Leeds and Juventus legend John Charles, could play either centre forward and centre half.

Mel played in the last Welsh team to compete in the World Cup finals in Sweden in 1958.

Unfancied, they played well, drawing with Hungary, Mexico and eventual runners up Sweden.

Advancing to the quarter finals, Wales lost 1-0 to Brazil with the goal scored by a 17-year-old Pele.

Mel Charles was named in the team of the tournament and Pele described him as the best centre half at the World Cup.

The story of the unheralded Welsh team’s experiences at the World Cup was fascinatingly recounted in a book called When Pele Broke Our Hearts by Mario Risoli, a former colleague of mine on the Western Mail.

I was intrigued by some of the stories about what happened before the team arrived in Sweden for the World Cup.

In London before their departure, their lack of resources saw them resort to use jumpers for goalposts when training on Hyde Park.

When they boarded their flight at London Airport there weren’t enough seats on the plane for both the squad and the dignitaries from the Welsh FA.

So some of the players were taken off the flight and had to get a later one, making way for the top brass.

So stupidity and arrogance isn’t such a new phenomena in football.


WALKING through Leeds city centre in a suit last week I was approached by a grinning bearded figure carrying a clipboard. This is a modern species known as a chugger (short for charity mugger).

His rather unorthodox approach saw him ask me: “Excuse me sir, are you a businessman or a gangster?

I replied rather wittily: “Neither”, and strode on past him up Briggate.

To be fair, that’s not really true.

I think I’ve got a bit of both about me.

Have a great weekend.

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