Tributes paid to Kings Langley Cricket Club’s most successful club captain Don Parkin

Watford Observer: Don Parkin wearing his Herts County blazer in 1952 before a match against Bedfordshire. Don Parkin wearing his Herts County blazer in 1952 before a match against Bedfordshire.

Tributes have been paid to the footballer and Kings Langley Cricket Club’s most successful club captain, Don Parkin, who died at his home on the Isle of Wight on Saturday, January 4.

Don, who was well-known locally as an accomplished all-round sportsman, passed away following a series of heart attacks either side of Christmas.

Donald Brooks Parkin was born on March 31, 1926 in Cononley, a village between Skipton and Keighley in north Yorkshire.

He moved to Abbots Langley with his parents in 1930 when his father Joe was transferred to Watford to work in the Civil Service tax office.

Don was educated at Hemel Hempstead Grammar School and left school during the early part of the Second World War to work at Fairfield Aviation aircraft repairers based at the time in the Odhams Building in north Watford.

He joined the Home Guard aged 16 and during 1942 met his wife to be, Phyl, at a dance in Kings Langley. They married in the village four years later.

In 1943 Don joined the Fleet Air Arm as a Safety Equipment Rating. He served in the Burma Campaign aboard the aircraft carrier HMS Emperor and sailed on to Ceylon to join 808 squadron, aboard HMS Khedive.

He remained on operations in the region until VJ Day 1945.

However he was not quite finished as his ship was sent to Singapore for the peace signing and prisoner repatriation arriving back in the UK to celebrate Christmas 1945.

This was followed by a move to Eastleigh in 1946 on HMS Raven as an Instructor at the Safety Equipment School.

During his time in the Fleet Air Arm, Don represented them at football and his goalkeeping skills were spotted by the Southampton Manager Bill Dodgin who signed him during the 1946/47 season and he played with the likes of Alf Ramsey, Ted Bates, Eric Day and Don Roper.

Don was demobbed in 1947 and took a job with Hoover Ltd in Watford but during 1949 moved on to the Aviation Insurance Underwriters at Lloyds London and with Eagle Star Insurance worked for a total of 39 years ending up as Group Aviation Underwriter (Head of Department). He retired in 1989.

Don’s part-time football career took him from Southampton to Luton where he was signed in 1948/49 by manager Dally Duncan.

Don also turned out for Kings Langley FC, Berkhamsted Town from 1950-54 (winning the Herts Senior Cup in 1953), Hemel Hempstead Town 1955-57 where he became manager and manager at Kings Langley FC for two years from 1966.

He represented Hertfordshire at both Senior and Junior levels.

Don was also a very accomplished cricketer and was a playing member of Kings Langley for more than 30 years captaining the first XI to Herts Competition Champions in the early 1970’s. He won his first County Cap in 1949 and represented the county continuously until 1960 scoring three centuries.

Don and Phyl’s son, Doug, was born in 1951 and Don’s undoubted sporting pedigree was to rub off on his son as he followed very closely in his proud father’s footsteps, also becoming a top non-league goalkeeper and an accomplished cricketer.

Don and Phyl moved from Kings Langley to Boxmoor in the 1980’s and then in 1992 retired to sleepy Heacham in Norfolk.

However in 1999 they finally decided to settle near Cowes on the Isle of Wight so they could be close to their grandchildren and Doug who was then the licensee of the Woodvale Hotel at Gurnard.

Doug died in 2010 following a short illness.

Don had taken up golf on his retirement and was a competitive member at Whipsnade Park Golf Club, Middleton Park at Kings Lynn and Cowes G.C. on the Isle of Wight in his later years.

Don who was 87 is survived by his wife Phyl their two grandchildren and four great grandchildren.

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