Welcome to the Private memorabilia collection of 'theyflysohigh'
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Derek Parker was born in Wivenhoe, Essex, on June 23, 1926 and died in April 2011, aged 84. After signing for West Ham in 1944 from Grays Athletic, he spent 13 years with the club. His claret and blue career stretched over 11 football league seasons before leaving in 1957 to join Colchester United.
His 11 league seasons spanned a who’s who of contemporary West Ham players. His time at Upton Park eclipsed that of players who played in the last 1930s season (Charlie Bicknell, Dick Walker & Norman Corbett), the 1940 War Cup Final (Sam Small), the 1964 FA Cup win (John Bond) and the 1965 European Cup Winners Cup final (Ken Brown).
Derek played 216 competitive games for the Hammers scoring nine goals. The appearances included 199 in the league, eight FA Cup, two Southern Floodlight Cup and seven in the Essex Professional Cup. Frustratingly he missed joining the select band of Hammers who have played 200 league matches by a single game.
In today’s football parlance Derek would be described as a squad player. Despite clocking over 200 first XI appearances, he also played a similar number of reserve team games. During his 11 seasons five were as a regular first teamer. Despite making his league bow in September 1946, it wasn’t until 1949-50 season that he established himself in the first team. For the next five seasons he regularly wore the number four shirt. During which his longest run of consecutive league games was 42.
He started out as an inside forward but quickly converted to half back where he played the majority of his matches. The first of his 199 Division Two league games was on September 21, 1946 in the 3-1 home win over Millwall.
His Upton Park tenure was when the Hammers languished in Division Two and made minimal impact in the FA Cup. Though a highlight would have been as a member of the team which won the inaugural Southern Floodlight Cup, beating Aldershot 2-1 in the Upton Park April 1956 final.
His spell in the first XI co-incided with several important friendly games. Two of these were in the victories over north London Division One neighbours, Arsenal and Spurs. In 1950 Derek was in the XI which met Arsenal in Charlie Paynter’s testimonial. Then three years later he had the honour of playing in the first floodlit match at Upton Park against Spurs. Soon after the Spurs win West Ham commenced their floodlit friendlies against foreign clubs. Derek played and scored in the early games against the Scottish teams Hearts (October, 1953) and St.Mirren (March, 1954).
Derek’s nine league goals were thinly spread over the 11 seasons. Pity he didn’t net more often as in the nine matches he scored, the Hammers only suffered defeat once! His first goal was in the November 1946 3-2 win over West Bromwich Albion. And his last rather poignantly was in his final game for the Hammers. On December 1, 1956 away to Bury and in front of 8,757, Derek played at inside right and scored in the 3-3 draw. The team picture below was taken prior to the kick off of Derek’s last game.
Undoubtedly the highlight of Derek’s football career was his selection for the FA party that toured Australia and America in the summer of 1951. Selection for this tour was a significant honour in the 1950s and recognition that Derek must have been one of the best half backs in the league and most certainly in Division Two. This summer tour was notable as the FA XI won all 21 of their fixtures scoring a remarkable 157 goals.
In March 1957 three months after the Bury game, Derek transferred to Colchester United. The West Ham connection working here as the U’s manager was ex-Hammer Benny Fenton. A further 130 league appearances and a single goal at Layer Road bought his career league appearances and goals to 329 and 10 respectively. Three years later he left Colchester to finish his football career as player manager with Stowmarket.
This Soccer Bubble Gum card by "Merrysweets Ltd" captures the XI prior to Derek’s last game for the Hammers at Bury Dec 1, 1956. The group includes Eddie Lewis who also recently died.
Back row (L-R)
John Bond, Andy Malcolm, Malcolm Allison, Bill Wyllie, Bill Lansdowne, Noel Cantwell
Front row (L-R)
Malcolm Musgrove, Derek Parker, Eddie Lewis, John Dick, Ken Tucker.
Football shirt worn by Derek
during the early part of the 1950's
Derek's 1951 F.A. Tour Pin
1952 - 53
Derek Parker and Ken Tucker
Date of Birth:
June 23, 1926
8 FA Cup
2 Southern Floodlit Cup
7 Essex Professional Cup