Jon Parkin remains one of the more popular Preston figures in recent times, and many will point to one famous night at Elland Road.
Parkin was signed from Stoke City in August 2008, and turned in a superb debut as North End beat Charlton Athletc 2-1 at Deepdale. Despite having Chris Brown at the club, Alan Irvine felt that Parkin could add another dimension to North End’s attack, and he was right.
‘The Beast’ became a fan favourite at Deepdale despite going more than three months without a goal when he signed, but after scoring against Doncaster Rovers in December 2008, the goal started to flow.
Parkin finished his first season with Preston on 11 goals, and then 13 goals the year after. Despite huge changes in the summer of 2010, Parkin stayed at North End, and had his crowning moment in September 2010.
Parkin smashed a superb hat-trick against Leeds United, but there’s much more to it. Parkin opened the scoring at Elland Road, but Leeds hit back with four goals to go 4-1 up; a seemingly unassailable lead.
The burly hitman added another before the break to give Preston hope, and when Keith Treacy and Callum Davidson hauled Darren Ferguson’s side level, Parkin took in Sean St Ledger’s pass, rolled Alex Bruce and fired Preston ahead.
Iain Hume’s header wrapped up a staggering 6-4 win, and even almost 10 years on, fans still speak of the unbelievable scenes that night, even if Parkin left for Cardiff City months later and Preston suffered relegation later that season.
Now, Parkin has opened up on the night to Ball In The Corner, admitting that it was ‘madness’, as he thought North End could lose by six or seven when 4-1 down, but Preston capitalised on the Leeds fans turning against their players in the second half.
Parkin added that the weirdest thing about the night was being clapped off the pitch by Leeds fans when he was substituted late on, believing it can’t have happened many times at Elland Road as it was ‘outrageous’.
“It was madness, it was just absolute madness,” said Parkin. “I think that’s probably why a lot of Preston fans sort of like us so much, just because of that game as much as anything. We went 1-0 up after five minutes, and half an hour later, we’re 4-1 down; I’m thinking we’ve got another 55-60 minutes at Elland Road, with however many thousand fans there, cheering and all that, we could end up getting done six or seven here.”
“Luckily, we managed to score just before half time, and then we came out the blocks second half, Keith scored with a corner next, then we got the penalty. Cal smashes the penalty in, 4-4, we’re thinking ‘there’s probably still 30-35 minutes to go, who knows what’s gonna happen next, anything could happen’. Then Ledge clipped a ball up to me, I rolled Alex Bruce and volleyed it in the bottom corner and we’re winning 5-4 then, and you’re like ‘Jesus Christ!’. Their fans had gone; they were 4-1 up and half an hour later they’re 5-4 down.”
“They start getting pelters off the fans, and then Humey’s header was the best goal out of them all. I think one of the biggest things about the night was that when I got took off, the Leeds fans were clapping us. I’m like ‘are they winding us up here or not?’, and a few Leeds fans have spoken to us about it after, and they said they clapped us off. I can’t imagine it’s happened much, but I was like ‘Jesus Christ, that’s outrageous’,” he added.