Leigh Centurions dedicate Super League place to 'absolute legend' after his sudden death

Bosses at a rugby league club have revealed the "complete devastation" faced by the death of a popular employee at the age of just 35.
Andrew ParkinsonAndrew Parkinson
Andrew Parkinson

Leigh Centurions' chairman Mike Latham dedicated their "hard-won" Super League place to Andrew Parkinson, saying the club would not have secured it without him

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His death has sent shockwaves through the rugby league community, where he was well-known for his long-standing involvement with the club.

Andrew joined Centurions in an administrative role at its former Hilton Park home and had played a key role ever since.

The Parkinson family has strong links with the club, as his father Fred is a life member and long-standing pioneer of videoing games and developing LCTV, while his brother David is a rugby league journalist and commentator.

Club chairman Mike Latham said: “When Leigh Centurions achieved their Betfred Super League bid, no-one was more delighted than Andrew.

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“Few played a bigger part in the process. Andrew was one of the unsung heroes, a young man with wide-ranging talents, in the back office. Throw him a problem and he would solve it. He invented multi-tasking. Remained ever polite and upbeat while doing so.

“As we look forward to 2021 news of his sudden passing was devastating for the Centurions family. No-one could have been more careful than Andrew and his family to shield from this ruthless virus as he had long been isolating at home and respecting all the rules.

“He always said the lockdown suited his lifestyle, because apart from going to work, visiting his favourite Indian restaurant for a takeaway, or trusted colleagues and friends when allowed, like our highly respected ex-chairman Brian Bowman, he was a home bird, who built up an incredible encyclopaedic knowledge of iconic TV series like Dad’s Army and The Bill.

"His ringtone was always The Undertaker from WWF and he’d love listening to the radio at work. ‘Are you OK, pal?’ I’d ring and ask, because Andrew called everyone pal, including Derek (Beaumont), who owned the club but who never demurred. He signed every email or text AP, it made us smile. ‘I’m fine, pal,’ he would reply from the heartbeat of the club, the front office, where he’d answer every question. tToday, it’s just me and Smooth FM.'

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“As chairman I had the solemn task of telling as many people as I could of the dreadful news before social media got there first. The reaction I got from everyone, as I worked my way through my phone contacts A-Z was all the same. Complete devastation.

“Andrew was, quite simply, a good guy. One of the best I’ve ever worked with in 40 years. Hugely talented, loyal, a proud Leyther, always there, day and night to help you, or post a story on the club website he created on his days off, respectful, friendly, cheerful, always optimistic. Font of knowledge. Good days and bad he was always there, always the same.

“In the immediate aftermath of his passing, at such a tragically young age, I’d like to dedicate Leigh’s hard-won Super League place to him. Because without Andrew Parkinson, Leigh Centurions wouldn’t be in Super League in 2021. He was the glue that held us all together.”

General manager Neil Jukes said: “From working with Andrew from all different levels within the club over many years, I can sincerely say he was the most nice, well-mannered and likeable guy you could ever meet. Ask anything, he knew it, ask him to do anything, he did it, anytime, any day, no ifs, no buts.

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“He was a Leyther through and through and will be sorely missed but never ever forgotten. God bless.”

Head coach John Duffy said: “It has knocked us all west this one, big time. Absolutely devastated. I personally have known Andrew (‘Big Bear’) since he started working for the club at Hilton Park many moons ago.

“He was the same person then as he was the last time I was with him 12 months ago. A very kind and compassionate man who would 100 per cent put the club and everyone involved before himself.

“Andrew has always been our secret weapon. He would never want me to say this, but many times the rugby club wouldn’t have been able to function without him. He knew this but would never ever want anyone to know or take credit. He was an absolute legend who impacted on all our lives for many years and I will miss him dearly. RIP mate, Duffs.”

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