WHERE ARE THEY NOW?

Number 5 - 5 October 2008

Phil Parkes is still instantly recognisable as the goalkeeper who regularly performed heroics for West Ham United between 1979 and 1990. A larger-than-life figure who has a word for everyone, Parkes may have long put away his gloves but he is well aware of those following in his considerable footsteps.

"I do keep an eye on what goalkeepers in the game are doing, especially when I watch the games at West Ham. I like watching what they are doing. It is clear that Robert Green is as good as anyone at the moment and deserves a chance in the England side.

"England need someone like Rob Green who has been around and has got a few years' experience. You need that as a goalkeeper. You just get better and better with age. You never stop learning, even right into your 30s. I am very surprised that he hasn't been given a proper chance. He did get a call-up for the last international so that is a glimmer of hope for him."

Parkes himself won just one England cap and remembers that he found himself competing with some of the best players to represent the national side in that position. "Ray Clemence, Joe Corrigan, Peter Shilton and myself - we all came along at the same time and obviously if we had come along in different eras, we would probably all have had a good run in the side."

While he has good memories of his playing career, and his part in the 1980 FA Cup win and the third-place finish of 1986, Parkes does not miss his playing days too much. "They are playing on these absolutely perfect pitches, which is the only thing that I am envious of.

"We used to play on some horrendous pitches in my time and you never knew whether it was going to be a mudbath or the ball was going to squeeze out of your grasp like a bar of soap."

He also feels that today's goalkeepers perhaps do not get "clobbered and clattered" as much as they used to in his day but, with a nod to one great from even further back, he added: "I suppose we got better protection than the likes of Ernie Gregory when he was playing."

Parkes, who still lives "in the same Wokingham house I was in when John Lyall drove out to sign me", now spends his time with property development, making use of the skills he learned even before breaking into the big time in the 1970s with Queen's Park Rangers. "I was a carpenter by trade before I ever went into football. I did my apprenticeship two years before I signed professional terms at Walsall and carried on into college.

"It is natural that i went back into that after my career. I am doing refurbishments of properties. I have refurbished my own two flats. It keeps me very busy, especially with the way the economic climate is going at the moment. People are tending to improve what they have got as opposed to moving on. It is getting even busier and the phone doesn't stop ringing."