Here at Talking Bull we continue to build up our career archive detailing former Hereford players, and in this article we take a look back at a terrific left winger who went on to gain full international honours with Wales just after leaving Edgar Street as a non-league player.
Paul Parry was one of the most exciting, and individually gifted wingers ever to play at Edgar Street. Parry gained full honours with Wales, amazingly making his international debut just six weeks after leaving Hereford for Cardiff City in January 2004.
Paul was born in Chepstow on 19 August 1980. A naturally left-footed midfielder he was initially signed by Bristol City on schoolboy terms but was released by the Robins at the age of sixteen, enabling him to join Hereford as a YTS trainee.
The winger was to make his first senior appearance for the club as a substitute in a 1-1 draw with Dover Athletic in March 1998, but had to wait another 8 months before getting another opportunity, again as a substitute, in a 3-2 defeat at Leek Town.
Having then signed professional terms Paul began to emerge as a regular, scoring against Kidderminster Harriers at Aggborough in the Conference Trophy. However, appearances were restricted due to niggling illness and injury problems, including a lengthy spell out after being diagnosed with glandular fever.
But the 1999/2000 campaign was to be his breakthrough season, starring in the Bulls FA Cup campaign that year. Parry scored at Edgar Street in a comprehensive 4-1 victory over Burgess Hill in the 4th Qualifying Round, before league sides York City and Hartlepool United were then beaten, landing the Bulls a mouth watering tie with Premier League side Leicester City.
The player enhanced his career prospects with two excellent performances against Leicester, almost winning the match at Edgar Street after hitting a shot onto the post following a mazy dribble from the half-way line.
Paul again showed his potential with a tremendous display at Filbert Street in the Third Round replay on 22 December 1999, with Robbie Savage forced into a man-marking role. Despite leading via a close range Paul Fewings effort from a Parry cross, Leicester forced the match into extra-time via a Matt Elliott diving header. City then snatched victory thanks to Muzzy Izzet who broke Hereford hearts with a 104th minute winner.
Football League scouts continued to monitor his progress following the cup run but Paul ruptured his ankle ligaments forcing another lengthy spell on the sidelines.
Welsh representative honours first arose in the Unibond Four Nations Tournament in 2002, when Paul featured alongside Tony James in the semi-professional international series, which Wales won.
In a tremendous 7-1 win away at Forest Green Rovers, Paul scored his only hat-trick for the Bulls on 19 December 2003, under the watchful eye of Cardiff City manager Lennie Lawrence. Martin O’Neill, who had been in charge of Leicester City during the earlier cup campaign, was also believed to have been interested in taking Parry to Scotland and a move to Glasgow Celtic, but the Bluebirds swooped.
Parry scored in his last game for Hereford against Stevenage Borough on 3 January 2004, before his transfer to the Bluebirds. The fee was an initial £75,000 with increases up to £200,000 based on first-team and international appearances.
In total Parry made 154 appearances for the Bulls, scoring 32 goals.
Paul made his debut for Cardiff on 10 January against Rotherham with City winning 3-2, and made his international debut for Wales on 18 February 2004, coming on as a substitute in a 4–0 win over Scotland.
This capped a remarkable rise for the midfielder who, at the time, had only made five appearances after joining Cardiff, and had been playing Conference football six weeks earlier.
The winger made his first start for Wales in Norway in May 2004, replacing the injured Ryan Giggs, and played for the entire 90 minutes. Paul then scored his first international goal in a 1–0 win over Canada on 30 May 2004 with a header at Wrexham’s Racecourse Ground. Next up was a World Cup appearance in a qualifier against Northern Ireland.
Parry quickly became a firm favourite with Cardiff under manager Lennie Lawrence, and continued to improve after Dave Jones was appointed. Parry began the 2007/08 season in fine form, forcing summer signing Trevor Sinclair out of the team with some impressive displays. His continuing good form also found him finding the net more often for Cardiff with goals against Queens Park Rangers, Burnley, Ipswich Town and Sheffield United leaving him as the Bluebirds joint top scorer by late December.
His good form in the season and Cardiff’s financial trouble saw several other Championship sides enquire about him, Norwich City even having a £750,000 offer rejected, but Parry stated that he did not wish to leave Cardiff. January 2008 saw Parry return to the club he started his playing career at, Hereford United, when the two sides met in the fourth round of the FA Cup, with Cardiff winning 2–1.
Towards the end of the season, with a lack of strikers at the club, Parry was used primarily as a striker, playing alongside either Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink and Steve Thompson, and he would go on to finish the season as the clubs joint top scorer, along with Joe Ledley, with eleven goals in all competitions. In April he suffered a hamstring injury during a 0–0 draw against West Bromwich Albion and was forced to miss the remaining league games of the season as well as an FA Cup semi-final win over Barnsley. The injury meant he was forced into a long wait over his chances of appearing in the final, but he did eventually manage to return in time and played all 90 minutes in a 1–0 defeat to Portsmouth.
In February 2009, Parry made his 200th appearance in all competitions for Cardiff when playing in a 4–0 defeat to Arsenal in the 4th Round of the FA Cup.
Later that year Parry joined Preston North End for a fee of around £300,000 before ending his professional career with a move to Shrewsbury Town in 2012 where he linked up again with the Bulls’ former boss Graham Turner.
Parry lined up a new career launching Parry Property Management in Shropshire, a company working with landlords across the county on their rented homes.
By Keith Hall.