David Parkin channels his inner Sinatra this Christmas

I THOUGHT you’d like this photo.

In my own mind I think it captures the warmth of my feelings, the Christmas spirit and is, perhaps, a sign of positive things to come, a nod to a brighter, hopeful future.

I think I look like those festive images from yesteryear of Bing Crosby and Frank Sinatra delivering a song and compliments of the season.

Although you might think I’m more like Paul Whitehouse’s Fast Show creation, Rowly Birkin QC.


IT was interesting to read the news that Trevor Birch has been appointed as chief executive of the English Football League (EFL).

While not being structured and governed quite as badly as the basket case Football Association, the EFL comes a close second.

In recent years it is fair to say that the organisation that runs the world’s oldest football league competition hasn’t been a shining beacon of calm and good governance and leadership.

Chairman Rick Parry has had a tendency to put his foot in his mouth while its members – the 72 clubs in the three leagues below the Premier League – have been beset by a combination of financial troubles and internecine squabbling.

Birch replaces David Baldwin, a former executive at Bradford City and Burnley who lasted just six months in the role.

His predecessor was Shaun Harvey, a man whose approach appeared to alienate many of the clubs who felt that the TV rights deal he struck between the EFL and Sky might have been better negotiated by the local village idiot.

Mind you, his previous roles as chief executive at Bradford City under Geoffrey Richmond and at Leeds United under Ken Bates, ensured that he had honed his style from two men whose charmless approach would never win them a popularity contest.

As for Trevor Birch, he will be under no illusions about what he needs to do in his new role.

He must unify his members and help them navigate out of the financial blackhole into which the pandemic has pushed football clubs of all sizes.

Many now teeter on the verge of insolvency.

But then many always did.

Trevor Birch certainly has the pedigree to succeed.

He’s a former footballer who became an insolvency practitioner.

I first wrote about him when he pitched up at Leeds United in 2002.

His claim to fame from his football career was that he was the last signing made by the great Liverpool manager Bill Shankly when Birch was a 16-year-old apprentice in 1974.

He never played for the club and left for Shrewsbury Town in 1979 where he played 25 games as a striker and scored four goals.

He left after a season and played 31 times for Chester, moving on to Marine, Runcorn and Northwich Victoria.

He trained as an accountant, joined Ernst & Young, or whatever it was known as then, before joining Chelsea as CEO in 2002 and securing the £180m deal to sell it to Roman Abramovich.

According to reports at the time the club hadn’t been in great financial health and it was definitely chairman Ken Bates’ lucky day when Birch unearthed a Russian billionaire sugar daddy.

While Birch’s business career has certainly been more successful than his footballing one, it has been equally itinerant.

After Chelsea and Leeds he moved on to Everton, Derby County, Sheffield United, Portsmouth, Hearts, Bolton and Swansea.

He was only appointed director of football at Tottenham Hotspur in September and has now left for his new role.

I met and interviewed Trevor Birch back in 2005 when he became a partner at Deloitte in Leeds and head of its northern insolvency team.

It was quite a coup for the firm at the time as Birch had been tipped to take over as CEO of the FA after Mark Palios had been caught with his trousers down.

Sitting in a corner conference room in Deloitte’s offices on the 10th floor of 1 City Square in Leeds, Birch told me about his early experiences at Liverpool, and we discussed his roles at Chelsea and Leeds and the interesting characters he’d met during his career.

When I asked him about his ambitions in his new role he said he was keen to up Deloitte’s game in the insolvency market where it was at the back of the grid behind its ‘Big Four’ rivals Ernst & Young, KPMG and PwC.

At the time the Leeds-based insolvency team at PwC that included Roger Marsh, Steve Ellis, Ian Green and the late Eddie Klempka, dominated the market.

Birch admitted on record to me that while he was keen to make Deloitte more competitive, they could never hope to compete with PwC.

When it appeared in print, Roger Marsh – now the chairman of the Leeds City Region Enterprise Partnership – phoned me to say that it was the best publicity they could have had.

I hope Trevor Birch has learned from that experience.

If not, then perhaps I could offer my services in media training?


FAREWELL then Peter Alliss.

I owe the great golfing commentator an apology as I penned a tribute to him for last week’s blog and then cut it ready to paste onto the page and forgot to do just that.

I’m sure last week’s effort was much better, but here goes.

Just weeks after I moaned about the vanilla commentary and charisma-less presenting style on Sky Sports’ coverage of the Masters golf, we’ve lost the master of golfing commentary.

Peter Alliss was never vanilla and had charisma, charm and humour in abundance.

After my moan about Sky’s live coverage, a reader reminded me that I could have tuned into the BBC’s late night highlights programme and heard Alliss in all his glory.

But I missed it and now he’s gone to that great golf course – complete with 19th hole with never-ending bar tab – in the sky.

Alliss, known as the voice of golf, died earlier this month aged 89.

Best known for his chirpy, laid back commentary style, Alliss was not a bad golfer either.

He won more than 20 tournaments during his career and played on eight Ryder Cup teams.

When Sean Connery needed to be taught how to play golf for his role as James Bond in Goldfinger, it was Alliss who was brought in to teach him.

And I bet they had a good time doing that.

Alliss was also the head pro at Moor Allerton Golf Club in Leeds for three years in the 1970s.

The club posted a tribute to him on Twitter.

It said: “Such sad news hearing Peter Alliss has passed away. Peter was our head pro 1970-73 and a close friendship with the legendary presenter remained ever since. We will miss him dearly. Our thoughts and prayers go out to his family today.”

He said: “Moor Allerton Golf Club is a golfing experience larger than life.”

Alliss was certainly larger than life and didn’t have much truck with political correctness: “With things being so politically correct these days, you have to be mindful of what you come away with. You might say, ‘That’s put the cat amongst the pigeons’ and, before you know it, cat lovers and bird lovers will start writing in saying: ‘How cruel of you to say that!’”

And he summed up his own style beautifully: “I have my own style. I’m not a statistician. People criticise me because they don’t think I know who all of the young guys are and the rest of it. That’s for Ewen Murray to do. He knows everything about everything. I’m just an observer of people and things and history. I take people on a ramble when we watch the golf and try to give them a bit of information.”


YORKSHIRE’S tallest building was sold recently in a deal worth £84.5m.

Bridgewater Place, which dominates the city’s skyline, is situated on the corner of Water Lane at the southern entrance to the city centre.

It isn’t your typical skyscraper and its odd shape perhaps disguises its  32 storeys and 112 metre height and has seen it affectionately dubbed ‘The Dalek’.

I remember being taken on a tour of the building by the developers just after it had been constructed.

I was keen to see this towering behemoth and enjoy the views for miles around from its rooftop.

At the time the internal parts of the building were still being fitted and so it looked very different to how it does now, with big firms like Eversheds, DWF and EY based there on the lower floors and 200 private flats above them.

My guide was keen to show me the views from what would be the most expensive flats on the top floors and I was keen to see them.

The full lift system had yet to be installed and so a lift was being operated manually from the ground floor with construction workers shouting the number of the floor they were on down the lift shaft and an operator sending the lift up to collect them.

After we’d done our viewing on the top floor we walked down the stairs to a few other floors to look at other parts of the development and then my guide suggested we return to the ground floor and walked to the lift shaft and shouted “28” into the lift shaft.

The lift set off but stopped at the floor below us and then descended.

After this happened several times, my guide, looking rather embarrassed, apologised and explained that it must be due to a lot of work taking place on the floor below us.

We made small talk for about half an hour with the lift never quite getting to us and my host getting more frustrated until he shouted down the lift shaft: “Are you ever going to send that sodding lift up to us on 28?”

A workmen in a hard hat poked his head into the lift shaft from the floor below us and said: “We’re on 28 down here, you must be on the 29th floor.”


THIS blog is taking a break until the New Year.

At this time of year it is customary to reflect on the previous 12 months.

For many of us, I think we’d rather forget 2020, but there have been positives which we should all cherish as we look forward to better times ahead.

Can I wish you a very Merry Christmas and a happy, successful and more importantly, healthy New Year.

Have a great weekend and a wonderful Christmas.

2 thoughts on “David Parkin channels his inner Sinatra this Christmas”

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Scroll to Top