Position Full Back
Born in Bangor, Northern Ireland in August of 1937, John Parke was a classy full back with Irish side Linfield when he was signed by Hibs manager Walter Galbraith in October 1963.
National team Northern Ireland
At the time he was attracting interest from several British clubs including Celtic, Dundee and St Johnstone from Scotland, but while the other clubs dithered, a delegation from Hibs travelled over to Belfast to sign the player immediately after Northern Ireland's 2-1 win over Scotland at Windsor Park. It was Parke's first full cap and the defender's impressive performance against his immediate opponent Willie Henderson of Rangers convinced the Edinburgh side they had unearthed yet another exciting prospect.
When Parke signed Hibs were in sorry state. During the previous season, relegation to the Second Division had only been avoided with a victory against Raith Rovers on the final day, and so far the new campaign had seen little sign of improvement. Only a few days before the signing of Parke, Dundee, including the evergreen Gordon Smith had defeated Hibs 4-0 at Easter Road, the victory coming only a matter of days after another humiliating defeat this time at the hands of Second Division Morton in a League Cup semi-final replay at Ibrox.
John Parke made his debut in place of the long serving Joe McClelland in Hibs 4-1 home win against St Johnstone on 26th October 1963. It was Hibernian's first victory in eight games, the new signing making an immediate impression on the Hibs fans.
A classy defender of rare talent and composure, Parke along with the other inspirational signings made around that time in Pat Quinn and Willie Hamilton would help the club to a mid table position and clear from relegation. It was then manager Walter Galbraith offered his resignation and was succeeded by the ambitious young manager Jock Stein who had achieved miracles during his time with Dunfermline. Hibs eventually managed to finish in 10th place but Parke would miss a large part of the season, struggling to shake off an injury received in a 5-3 defeat by Airdrie in December.
Missing the start of the following season, the Irish full back made a return to the first team when replacing Tommy Leishman for the later League Cup section games and Hibs 3-1 victory against Aberdeen in the Summer Cup Final play off at Pittodrie. In October Parke was part of the Hibs side which defeated Real Madrid in the famous friendly at Easter Road, completely blocking out the danger of outside right Amancio, and also featured in the Hibs line up which defeated Rangers 4-2 a few days later. It was the Edinburgh side's first victory in any competition at Ibrox since goals by Lawrie Reilly and Eddie Turnbull had given the greens a 3-2 win in season 1952-53.
The Easter Road side would go on to defeat Rangers three times that season, the first time they had achieved the league double over the Ibrox side since the championship winning season in 1902-03 over 60 years before, but by then Parke was no longer a Hibs player. In mid November he was transferred to Sunderland to be replaced by Joe Davis who was signed from Third Lanark on the same day. Parke's last game for Hibs was in a 1-1 home draw against St Mirren on 7th November 1964. Now 28 years of age, it is said that the usually astute Jock Stein was of the opinion Parke's injured leg would not stand up to the rigours of a hard season, but this did little to prevent Parke from turning out almost 90 times for the English First Division side during the following four seasons. He ended his professional career with Belgian club Mechelen.
Parke won two of his fourteen full caps for Northern Ireland while a Hibs player, a 1-0 defeat by Spain in Belfast and an embarrassing 8-3 defeat by England at Wembley, both in 1963. Although Parkes' appearances for Hibernian were seriously curtailed because of injury - he managed just 27 appearances for Hibs in a little under two seasons, including the Summer Cup Final victory against Aberdeen and the friendly against Real Madrid - the cultured full back was a huge favourite with the Hibs fans and is still fondly remembered to this day.
He attended at Linfield matches whenever possibly until shortly before his death from Alzheimer's on the 27th of August 2011.