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Another factor which probably did not help his testimonial cause was that his benefit match was held two years after he had left the Hammers. After signing as an apprentice professional in July 1981 he closed a 12 year claret and blue association with a transfer to Birmingham City in March 1993.
For the first four years of his east London tenure George learnt his trade playing for the youth teams and reserves before making his league debut in the final First Division game of season 1984-85. For the May 20, 1985 home game against Liverpool, John Lyall drafted in George and Keith McPherson for their league debuts in addition to giving Frank Lampard Snr his last claret and blue first team appearance. The Merseysiders were oblivious to the importance of the game to Parris, McPherson and Lampard, and completely outclassed the under-strength West Ham side to win 3-0.
In the following season right-back George’s versatility resulted in a first team call-up after the first seven league games as the replacement for an injured Alan Devonshire. Throughout the season George was called-up to replace injured colleagues until he finally made his breakthrough by becoming a regular first teamer in January 1986. A memorable campaign for Smokey as this was the season West Ham achieved their highest ever league placing of third, and he made a significant contribution by playing 26 consecutive first team games.
Over the next seven seasons George continued to play for the first team either in his usual-right back position or in a midfield role. The signing of full-back Julian Dicks in March 1988 increased the competition for a first-team full-back spot. But he frequently returned to first team action thanks to his versatility.
The timing of Wally St. Pier’s testimonial match was impeccable. His special game was two days after West Ham’s 1975 FA Cup triumph, and was used as the homecoming of the Wembley heroes to play an exhibition ninety minutes against the cup heroes from 10 years earlier. These ingredients helped to attract a crowd of over 25,000 to ensure a bumper pay day for one of West Ham United’s top scouts.
Twenty years later and another Hammer, George Parris, was granted a testimonial game. George’s case for a testimonial was no less deserving than Wally St. Pier’s but the outcome was very different.
In Parris' case there was no return of a triumphant cup team or even attractive opposition. On Saturday April 22nd, 1995 West Ham United faced Ipswich Town for Smokey’s special game.
The 1994-95 season was not a memorable one for the Irons; they were perched in the bottom-half of the F.A. Carling Premiership table in 14th position, leaking more goals than scored, supported by early FA and League Cup exits. Opponents and fellow Premiership club, Ipswich Town, were experiencing an even worse season. The Tractor Boys finished the campaign propping up the other 21 clubs and slid into an abyss.
Nine Seasons of Claret & Blue First Team Action
West Ham United 2 - 3 Ipswich Town (HT 0-1)
Saturday April 22, 1995
West Ham United:
Frank McAvennie (56 mins), George Parris (57 mins)
Adam Tanner (34 mins), Alex Mathe (54 mins), Ian Marshall (88 mins)
A brief description of the goals as explained in the contemporary edition of Hammers News (May 1995 Vol.1 No.10).
34 mins: West Ham 0 – 1 Ipswich Town
Adam Tanner (Ipswich) rifled a 25 yarder into the top right hand corner.
54 mins: West Ham 0 – 2 Ipswich Town
Alex Mathie (Ipswich) taped home Milton’s low cross from eight yards.
56 mins: West Ham 1 – 2 Ipswich Town
Frank McAvennie scuffled a 10 yarder following Eckstein’s probing cross field run.
57 mins: West Ham 2 – 2 Ipswich Town
George Parris stabbed home a rebound after Morgan (Ipswich’s goalkeeper) saved his initial shot after a 30 yard solo run.
88 mins: West Ham 2 – 3 Ipswich Town
Ian Marshall unmarked, slotted home Mathie’s unselfish centre.
West Ham United:
Sealey, Breacker (Brown 46), Dicks (Mitchell), Whitbread, Potts (capt) (Joscelyne 46), Bishop (Williamson 46), Allen (Morley 46), Rush, Parris, McAvennie, Eckstein.
Morgan, Stockwell, Yallop, Wark (Linighan 46), Smailes (Ellis 46), Norfolk, Tanner, Milton, Slater, Mathie, Marshall.
So an end of season testimonial friendly against a team struggling more than the Hammers, was never going to be a big crowd-puller. Even so the midfield dynamo deserved a far higher attendance than the 1,379. Not even the attraction of a former Upton Park favourite, Frank McAvennie, returning to don a claret and blue shirt for the first time in three years could make a difference.
For Ipswich Town the afternoon gave them some respite from the threat of inevitable relegation. They even experienced the rarity of actually winning away from home. In their miserable season they gleaned a paltry two Premiership away victories, the second lowest of all the Premiership clubs.
Frank McAvennie was not the only player returning to Upton Park. Frank’s swansong for the Hammers came as a second-half substitute against Nottingham Forest with a farewell hat-trick performance on May 2, 1992. Another returnee was former West Ham favourite, Ipswich Town’s winger, Stuart Slater.
In the Hammers side was German international Dieter Eckstein, a loan signing from Schalke 04. Eckstein, the striker was signed on loan in April to the end of June. At the end of his loan spell he returned to his parent club, Schalke 04, without making a competitive claret & blue appearance.
Return of Ex-Hammers and a Loanee
George's signed testimonial programme
George's signed souvenir football
Wedgewood Plaque presented by West Ham United to George Parris to mark ten years at Upton Park
Frank McAvennie one last scoring appearance at Upton Park
Time With The "B" Clubs
With only 10 starts and six sub appearances in 1992-93 and struggling to command a reguar first-team berth, George transferred to Birmingham City in March 1993 for £100,000. After just one season with The Blues (42 games & 1 goal), he embarked on his “B” spell of loans as the midland club loaned him to three different clubs all beginning with “B”. His first loan stint was with Brentford (7 games & 1 goal), followed by a spell with Bristol City (6 games) and finally with Brighton & Hove Albion (18 games & 2 goals). Later he joined The Seagulls for a couple of seasons to clock a further 56 matches and 3 more goals.
Over his nine seasons of claret and blue first team action he clocked a very respectable 298 first team games scoring 18 goals. These were spread over 239 in the league (12 goals) and 59 in cups (6 goals). After 13 years of action George’s total football career appearances, straddling all of his permanent and loan contracts, was a healthy 444 supported by 25 goals.