David Parkin on Yorkshire’s Rio Heroes, football spivs and a marvellous view

NEVER before have so many talented individuals who have given so much been gathered together to show off the precious metal they had earned in pursuit of greatness.

And that was just the mayors present.

Yorkshire’s Rio Heroes homecoming parade through the streets of Leeds on Wednesday evening and the civic reception which followed it was a wonderful celebration of our Olympic and Paralympic sports people and their coaches.

Given the number of medals on show (Paralympian Hannah Cockcroft was weighed down by three huge golds) and the presence of mayors from across Yorkshire wearing their civic finery, there hasn’t been that much bling on show since a Kardashian wedding.

Local authorities from across the region, led by Leeds, had shrewdly handed the organisation of the actual parade to Sir Gary Verity and his team at Welcome to Yorkshire while the council sorted out shutting the roads, policing and everything else that goes into putting on such an event.

Sir Big V injected the expected pizzazz into the event. Given he’s got most of our Olympian and Paralympian sports stars on speed dial, delivering enough competitors was never going to be his biggest challenge.

Athletes taking part included triathletes Alistair and Jonny Brownlee, diver Jack Laugher, Paralympic champion Kadeena Cox and Olympic rower Andy Triggs-Hodge, who summed up all their feelings when he tweeted “What a great day! In the county you love, sharing the sheer joy of a gold medal! Loving it!”

They climbed aboard six open top buses to tour the major thoroughfares of Yorkshire’s biggest city accompanied by three bands, convertible cars, a music float and performers from Leeds West Indian Carnival.

Organisers estimate around 30,000 people gathered to watch the parade.

I watched with Deloitte boss Martin Jenkins from outside their offices in City Square.

It was great to see the event backed by Yorkshire businesses such as logistics group Clipper, car retailer JCT600, Radio Aire, Yorkshire Water and Yorkshire Tea and Harrogate’s Slingsby Gin and of course Vale of Mowbray pork pies.

Yes I know that last one 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”.

The bus leading the parade, carrying Jonny Brownlee, Big V, Leeds City Council leader Judith Blake and chief executive Tom Riordan paused near where we were standing and they all waved warmly after spotting me below.

When Yorkshire Post photographer Simon Hulme waved a cheery “Oi Parky!” greeting, I think some of the people around me thought I had Olympic connections.

Well I watched it on the telly.

We later made our way to the Civic Hall where a reception was held amid the impressive surroundings of the banquet hall, where figures including Nelson Mandela, Winston Churchill and Clement Attlee have been made Freemen of the City.

It certainly hasn’t ever seen a gathering of such sporting talent before.

Such an event had to include speeches and city council leader Judith Blake welcomed the athletes and thanked them for what they had done for their country and their county with Yorkshire itself again high up in the medals table.

When she mentioned the efforts to develop the swimming and diving facilities at the John Charles Centre in South Leeds there were a few pursed lips and shaking heads from Tories in the room for the political reference.

Then she said she was glad Government transport minister Andrew Jones was present as he would be able to take the Yorkshire success message back to Westminster.

Given he is the MP for Harrogate and Knaresborough, he’s probably got a pretty good idea of it already.

Mind you, it’s been a big year for Judith.

Here she was welcoming the medal-winning Olympians and Paralympians and then back in June she was presenting medals to world class triathletes when Leeds hosted the ITU World Triathlon

This time last year she was officially opening a sandpit at a play centre in Belle Isle.

I liked the way Slingsby Gin had created gold, silver and bronze bottles to present to the medal winners and I was impressed by how many of them, having endured months and, in many cases years, of spartan training regimes, were happy to enjoy a Yorkshire gin served with panache by Marcus Black and his team from Harrogate-based Slingsby.

With such a gathering of sporting talent present, I resisted the urge to give them a short motivational speech to drive on their efforts to Tokyo in 2020.


WHAT a week for football.

Sam Allardyce claims he was the victim of “entrapment”, leaving his role as England manager after just 67 days and one match in charge following a sting operation by journalists from the Daily Telegraph.

But trying to blame others for his downfall is a trifle short-sighted isn’t it?

Surely you don’t get caught out if you do things the right way?

And when you are on £3m a year and managing your country, shouldn’t it become less tempting to take outside offers?

But Allardyce’s inflated ego fancied not just the £400,000 the undercover reporters were offering, but the “keynote” speaker opportunity that was dangled with it.

He embraced it with spiv-like enthusiasm that makes Private Walker from Dad’s Army look like a charity shop volunteer.


AS well as being an accomplished tax accountant, Tim Parr of RSM is also a man who you could call a bon viveur.

Every couple of years he gathers together a disparate collection of clients, colleagues and friends for a long lunch.

I was invited along to the latest gathering last Friday, beginning with pints of Timothy Taylor outside the Town Hall Tavern in Leeds followed by a tapas lunch in the private dining room at the nearby Iberica restaurant (it’s actually a four-minute walk from the pub, Tim had timed it on several practice runs).

I didn’t know many of those present, but what united them was good conversation. I hadn’t met Ilkley butcher David Lishman before, but now I’m an expert in Yorkshire salami and other cured meat delights and planning a trip to his food emporium in the near future.

There was a guy who is the director of a major plc, another one ran a family textile business, there was a farmer with 1,000 sheep and the founder of a trendy restaurant chain.

It all made for a cracking day out.

And as the wine flowed Tim insisted we all crown the day by telling jokes.

It is probably a good thing I can only remember the first joke he kicked off with, as it all went down hill a bit from there.

Standing up, Tim cleared his throat and said:

Julius Caesar goes into a bar and says: ‘Can I have a dry martinus please’.

The Barman:  ‘Don’t you mean a dry martini?’

Julius Caesar: ‘If I wanted a double I’d ask for a double’.

That was definitely the best of them.

Conversation drifted and, along with a few of the guests, we decided that Tim Parr, complete with large glasses and a cigar, is the spitting image of Reuben Tishkoff, the character in Ocean’s 11 played by Elliott Gould.


I WON a bit of money on a horse running at Newcastle yesterday called Sincil Bank.

Not because I had a hot tip and certainly not because the odds were favourable – it was the 11/8 on favourite.

But when I saw the name I felt I had to back it as it reminded me of a story involving former Yorkshire Post colleague John Woodcock.

John is a talented writer who had also worked on the Daily Mail. He is not your usual cynical hack, he embraces everything and everyone with enthusiasm and when you revealed even the most mundane piece of information about yourself he would greet it by spreading his arms wide and proclaiming: “Marvellous!”

Some years ago I was among a few journalists from the newspaper who had a day out at Market Rasen races in Lincolnshire and the then YP religious affairs correspondent Michael Brown arranged for us all to have overnight accommodation in lodgings next to Lincoln Cathedral normally used by theological students and ecclesiastical dignitaries.

After a night out in Lincoln we awoke to enjoy a full English breakfast at the lodgings, after which John Woodcock said he wanted to speak to one of the senior clergymen.

We walked down a long, wood panelled corridor and he tapped lightly on a large door.

We went into an office with large mullioned windows with a view down across the whole of the city of Lincoln.

“I wonder if we might enjoy this magnificent view for a moment?” asked John.

“Of course, there are few finer cityscapes in the whole of England,” replied the clergyman.

“There it is, I knew I would be able to see it from here!” proclaimed John excitedly.

“Ah, you mean our wonderful cathedral, a near perfect example of English Gothic architecture?”

“No,” responded John.

“In that case it must be our magnificent castle, which dates from 11th century Norman times,” said the clergyman.

“No,” said John once again, “down there that’s what I can see – Sincil Bank, of home Lincoln City, The Imps.


Have a great weekend.

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