THIS IS PHIL'S BIG CHANCE
The Non-League Football Paper|July 25, 2021
FINALLY PARKY HAS BACKING
CHRIS DUNLAVY

SINCE their second – and last – competitive meeting in 2014, Johnsons Gary and Lee have faced off just once as opposing managers.

On a warm evening in 2016, Lee’s Bristol City defeated dad Gary’s Cheltenham Town in a friendly, winning the Johnson Cup in the process.

The trophy – a silver cup commissioned in jest by Gary himself – still sits on the younger man’s mantelpiece. A “bit cringe” was how he described the dubious honour.

Given that Lee now manages League One giants Sunderland while his old man is at Torquay United, an opportunity to divest himself of this unwanted bauble appears unlikely.

Mind you, the career trajectory of Phil Parkinson, Johnson’s predecessor at the Stadium of Light, suggests otherwise.

When Parky was appointed by Sunderland in October 2019, he was widely seen as the steadiest pair of hands in League One.

Solid, unspectacular, but a guy who gets the job done. So it has always been for the 53-year-old.

As a midfielder for Reading in the nineties, Parkinson wasn’t gifted. He couldn’t play a killer pass, but his relentless hounding and harrying meant nobody else could either.

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