“This is a far better environment to be in” – Colchester United keeper Elliot Parish
One man’s misfortune is another man’s gain.
That is certainly the case with Colchester United’s two leading keepers, Sam Walker and Elliot Parish.
Walker went to see a specialist this week, fearing that he could be out for the whole season after suffering suspected cruciate ligament damage during the Capital One Cup defeat to Reading on Tuesday night.
His deputy, the experienced Parish, came on for Walker on the hour mark against the Royals, and is now set for an extended run in the first team.
Summer signing Parish, who spent an unhappy last season at hapless Blackpool, had played in the U’s League One opener against his old club Blackpool last Saturday.
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Ironically, that was to enable Walker to have a little more time to recover from the knee injury that was a legacy of last season, only for it to flare up so badly on Tuesday night.
“It’s unfortunate circumstances, and it’s a shame the way it happened, because Sam was having a great game as well, but that’s football, and I am here to do a job now,” insisted Parish.
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“The gaffer (Tony Humes) told me to just come in and impress, when I first arrived at the club, and then go from there.
“It’s unfortunate for Sam, who is a top lad and a great goalkeeper, and for the club as a whole, but I have got to take my chance.
“I had a good pre-season, where I got a lot of minutes under my belt, and I obviously played against Blackpool (2-2 draw).”
Former Aston Villa trainee Parish, who first signed up for the Villa Academy in 2006, was also on the books of Cardiff City (2012-13) and Bristol City (2013-14), before switching to Blackpool last summer.
It was not the greatest of moves for the 25-year-old Northampton-born custodian, not least because the Seasiders, dogged by turmoil off the pitch, managed only four wins all season.
Parish clocked up 13 league appearances for Blackpool, but is now very relieved to be a Colchester United player.
“It’s nice to play in a settled back four, but it wasn’t a very settled back four last year!” admitted Parish.
“It’s a big difference being at Colchester United now, to what it was at Blackpool.
“The two clubs are worlds apart, and I am on the right end this year.
“This a far better environment to be in, 100%, even though Blackpool were in the Championship last season.
“When I come in here every morning, everything is set out and it’s a very professional outfit. Everyone knows what they are doing.
“When I was at Blackpool, we’d come in and not know what we were doing. A different issue would come up every day, and it was just a very unsettling place, with things going on at the top. It was not a healthy place to be playing football.
“But as soon as I arrived here, I’ve been fed a lot of confidence through the way it’s run, and the way the manager runs this club.
“Now I want to take my chance, and show people that I am a top goalkeeper. I’ve got a wife to support, and a little girl of nine months, so I don’t want to get used to being without a club.
“I’ve got to keep my feet on the ground, but I’ve got aspirations to play at the top level, so this is an opportunity that I have got to take.
“I got a good grounding at Aston Villa, where I picked up a lot of knowledge from a lot of good keepers.
“For me personally, I’m 25 years old now, and I’ve done my apprenticeship. I’ve been at some big clubs, now I want to kick on and show people what I am all about.”
Parish will start against Peterborough at London Road this afternoon.