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Stalwart epitomizes Eagles’ club spirit

If you see Michael Parker floating around, there is a good chance something Tumut Eagles-related is happening, or about to happen. 

The club stalwart is Eagles crazy and has spent the last 23 years contributing to what the club has become today.

“I started playing soccer in 1996 when I joined the Tumut Eagles Soccer Club,” he said.

“I needed to do something to keep fit and meet people.”

This inconspicuous start to his soccer career would prove fruitful for the blossoming Eagles club with Parker a major reason for the club’s standing today.

“I think I started involvement at a committee level in the late 90s,” he said.

“At that time, the Tumut Eagles Soccer Club was the senior club and the junior club was a separate organisation.”

Parker was one of the founding members of the merged Tumut Eagles club.

“I took on the roll of Treasurer in 2003 and in August 2007, it was decided that the junior and senior clubs should amalgamate as both were struggling to get committee involvement,” he said.

On the paddock, the 49-year-old keeps ticking along and still plays to this day. He’ll often kit up for both second and third grade when possible.

“I feel I’m too young to retire just yet, although from time to time my body and my wife have suggested it,” he laughed.

There is one match in particular that’s stayed with Parker throughout the years.

“One game that always remains in my memory was against Leeton in 1998 – we were playing down at the Bull Paddock and even before we ran on it started to snow,” he said.

“It was freezing and the snow flakes were about the size of fifty cent pieces and as you ran they would hit you in the eye and you could not see.”

Despite the memories of playing and major wins for the Eagles’ growing committee, Parker’s involvement with the Eagles is much more then all of that with the local detective taking just as much away from the club.

“It is the development of these young men and women that is part of my motivation for being so involved with the Tumut Eagles,” he said.

“I see a lot of the negative side of the world with my work and seeing young people grow and achieve something positive, be it friendships or physical skills, this give me a bit of balance.”

It makes sense then that Parker’s greatest moment with the club doesn’t come on the pitch, or committee room.

“My proudest moment with the Tumut Eagles was coaching the under 13s to an undefeated 2018 season, topped off with winning the Football Wagga Wagga under 13 Grand Final,” he said.

Parker didn’t want to fixate on results though and also reminisced on his early days of coaching.

“I started coaching in 2008 when my eldest son, Ethan, started playing for the Tumut Eagles in the South West Slopes competition,” he said.

“I had little idea about coaching but was told, ‘make sure you don’t lose any kids during training and they have fun and you should be right’,” he laughed.

The Tumut Eagle is so committed to the club that he even referees a variety of age groups.

It isn’t an uncommon site to see Parker in his black strip and working the line for first grade after playing 90 minutes of second grade himself.

Former Eagles president and long time friend, Darren Jaynoy believes Parker’s involvement with the club is a big reason behind why recent Eagles success.

“Without people like Mick (Parker), you wouldn’t have a club,” he said.

“Mick and his likes are the lifeblood of the Eagles.”

Jaynoy said the next generation of committee members is a testament to Parker.

“He always wanted to instill that feeling of belonging and I believe you are seeing the rewards of that attitude with the likes of the Goodes that are taking bigger roles within the club,” he said.

When quizzed on his favourite memory of Parker, Jaynoy had too many to write down but he did point to one single attribute.

“Anything Mick does, you know he will be going at 110 percent,” he said.

“He is very tenacious and you see that with him in all aspects of life and with his kids who are now playing.”

Current Eagles club president Matthew Lopez is certainly thankful to have Parker to call upon.

“Mick (Parker) is Mr Everything,” he said.

“Despite not having an official title, he keeps the club running for both seniors and juniors.”

Lopez was in awe of his commitment and said the club owes a lot to Parker.

“He coaches two junior teams, plays thirds and ressies (seconds), referees juniors and seniors, does line marking and attends committee meetings (local and Football Wagga Wagga),” he said.

“He’s often the first person present and last to leave any given game day – the Eagles wouldn’t be in its current strong position in juniors and seniors without Mick Parker.”

Parker’s involvement in the club has been paramount to the Eagles success but to further prove the mindset of this great clubman, this last comment demonstrates his own ideologies. 

“The old adage ‘Many hands make light work’ is still as true today as ever, so I always encourage people to step up and get involved,” he said.