David Parkin on star personalities in sport and a flamboyant man who was Meek

WHY TV companies persist with dull personalities like Alan Shearer and Michael Owen, I really don’t know.

Shearer’s BBC documentary looking back at Euro 96 this week was so uninspiring that I switched over.

Thank goodness then for a smattering of character elsewhere in sport.

Smoking cigars during his round, the superbly-named American golfer Rocco Mediate shot a final round five-under par 66 to beat Colin Montgomerie in the Senior PGA Championship at Harbor Shores on Sunday.

After holing a 15-foot putt on the final hole, the 53-year-old declared: “That was sick.”

Then at the Sky Bet League Two Playoff Final at Wembley on Monday, cult football hero Adebayo Akinfenwa sealed 2-0 victory for AFC Wimbledon over Plymouth by scoring a penalty with virtually the last kick of the game and then revealed he had been released by the club.

Did it dampen the enthusiasm of a player nicknamed ’The Beast’ who weighs 16 stone, can benchpress 28 stone and was listed as the world’s strongest player on the FIFA 15 computer game?

Not a bit of it.

He embraced manager Neil Ardley, shouting: “He’s releasing me!”

In a post match interview Akinfenwa declared: “Come on now, there ain’t no better way to send off.

“I said let’s complete this fairytale – and that’s what we’ve done. It’s what dreams are made of. It’s beautiful.”

He added: “To see this team get promoted, to score with the last kick of the game, I couldn’t even write that.

“I’m going to miss this team, I’m going to miss this place, but there ain’t no better way to leave it. It’s about progression and AFC Wimbledon are getting stronger and stronger.”

He then whipped off his club shirt to reveal a T shirt promoting his Beast Mode range of clothes and told Sky Sports: “I think I’m technically unemployed, so any managers hit me up on the WhatsApp and get me a job.”

I don’t know how long the 34-year-old striker’s football career is going to last but I don’t think he’ll be short of media and commercial offers with an attitude and enthusiastic approach like that.


A WEEK after seeing England playing at Headingley I returned last Friday evening to witness Yorkshire lose with less than a whimper to Leicestershire in the T20 Blast.

Sean Jarvis, commercial director at Huddersfield Town, was our host and while he is looking forward to the team’s exploits in the Championship under manager David Wagner next season, he is still revelling in the success of his home town team, Leicester City, in the Premier League last season.

I then bumped into former Leeds Building Society chief executive Ian Ward, another Leicester fan, who showed he’d lost none of his zest for taking the mickey out of me supporting East Midlands under achievers Derby County.

Sean had also invited actor Colson Smith, who plays ginger-haired teenager Craig Tinker in Coronation Street. As we made our way to our seats we were held up every few steps by fans asking to have a selfie with him.

As Yorkshire’s efforts on the field started to look increasingly feeble, the football talk continued amongst our party, with Jason Taylor, commercial manager of Kirklees College and a man who has never knowingly missed an opportunity to get a selfie with a celebrity, mentioning the recent Louis Theroux documentary called A Different Brain.

The programme saw the journalist talking to people who had suffered life changing brain injuries.

He asked one chap what was most important to him in his life.

“My Arsenal scarf,” he replied.

“Did you support Arsenal before the brain injury?” asked Theroux deadpan.


CONGRATULATIONS to Hull City on their return to the Premier League.

A pity it had to be by beating Sheffield Wednesday in the Championship Playoff Final at Wembley, I know as many Wednesdayites as I do Tigers fans.

It prompted Jamie Allison, man about town, sorry, business development director, with Lloyds Banking Group in Leeds, to tell me that his mate Bertie Ahern, former Irish prime minister, is Hull’s number one fan.

“Their number two fan was Omar Sharif – don’t ask!! I understand it was to do with the filming of Doctor Zhivago with an unknown actor called Tom Courtney (now Sir Tom!) who is from Hull,” said Jamie, helpfully.


SO farewell then Chris Meek.

The Yorkshire businessman and former racing driver died recently after a battle with cancer.

To use the word flamboyant to describe him is an understatement.

With his tan and flowing dark locks, love of Ferraris and fur coats, he was like James Hunt and George Best rolled into one.

After achieving more than 500 race wins during a glittering racing career in Formula 2, Formula Atlantic, Formula Libre, Formula Ford, Formula 3, Saloons and GT cars, he started a property company called Titan Group and bought the Mallory Park racing circuit in Leicestershire.

I first met him when he took delivery of his 40th Ferrari, an F430, from motor group JCT600 at the Flying Pizza restaurant in North Leeds.

It was an appropriate venue for the handover of the shimmering red supercar.

Not just because it had a reputation for customers parking their flashy motors outside.

But also because there was a photo on the wall inside of the speedometer of a Ferrari being driven at 175mph.

The hands on the leather steering wheel belonged to Chris Meek.

I asked him which racing circuit he had achieved that speed on.

“It was on the M1 just north of Sheffield,” he replied.

He also took a Ferrari Enzo to its top speed of 217mph but never revealed where that was achieved.

My bet it was on the Snake Pass near Buxton.

Someone once pointed out his home in North Leeds.

It had a statue modelled on the Ferrari prancing horse logo in the front garden.

Apparently every door opened automatically when you walked towards it.

I once met him for breakfast in the slightly surreal surroundings of Chatters tea room in a Leeds suburb. He admitted he and his wife never ate at home – going out everyday for breakfast, lunch and dinner.

He must have been one of the Flying Pizza’s best customers.

There was always space for his Ferrari out front.

When I saw him at the wedding of former Flying Pizza owner Martin Pickles at Brompton Oratory in London he cut a dash wearing a leather tail coat with his jet black hair tumbling down his back.

One of the Flying Pizza waiters once confided: “We call him Last of the Mohicans.”

When I asked Chris if he’d lost a fortune buying all those Ferraris, he said that he’d certainly lost less money than if he’d bought Fords.

He was such a good client of the Italian sportscar maker that he used to get the pick of the new models and the special editions.

Most of them went up in value rather than down.

As I chatted to Chris outside the Flying Pizza, a Maserati zoomed to a halt in front of us.

The door opened slowly and deliberately and I saw a shapely female leg emerge encased in black fishnet stockings and black ankle boots with gold studs.

I watched opened mouthed as a stunning blonde got out of the car.

“Svetlana my dear! David, you must meet my wife,” said Chris.

I shook her hand then glanced at the number plate on the Maserati.

It read: LUV 69.

Have a great weekend.

1 thought on “David Parkin on star personalities in sport and a flamboyant man who was Meek”

  1. On the money again David, a great mix of humour and reflection where you intersperse such a diverse range of topics in relatively few words.

    ” My Arsenal shirt “…..cruel but genius !!

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