“I think getting so close last season has only had a positive impact on the lads”
Nick Milton’s form last season may have gone under the radar with other players grabbing the headlines, but Parkways Mr Dependable formed an integral part of a Yellows back line that had the second best defensive record in the Western League.
His no nonsense approach to defending may be what people remember after watching the centre back play, but there is another, more methodical approach to his defending. Always looking for a pass and reading a situation well, the defender never seems hurried when in control of the ball. The No.6 is also a goal threat, and many of the Parkway faithful will remember his injury time winner against Devon rivals Buckland Athletic on Boxing Day, which secured a 2-1 smash and grab victory at Homers Heath.
Nick took time out of his busy working day to talk to #PPFC as we covered the heartache of last season and his central defensive partnership with Rob Farkins.
The conversation started by asking Nick about the influx of several new signings and the healthy competition for a place in the starting 11 each week: “It’s always good to have healthy competition within any squad battling for a place in the starting 11. This team is a prime example of that. We have a lot of quality and depth in our squad and it keeps everyone on their toes. There is always going to be a couple of players each game that are disappointed to be on the bench, but as players we have to trust in what Lee and Karl are trying to achieve.
Rotation is key and no player is here to make up the numbers, every player is good enough to start. I do believe the difference in having such a strong squad is what will get us over that line to win this league over the course of the season.”
The centre back talks of nearly getting over that finishing line last season, Parkway took the title race right down to the final day of the season, but were finally pipped to the title after Willand did what they needed to do at The WDS Stadium away at Bitton. With being so close to the title, we asked Nick if that still plays on the players mind?
“I think I speak on behalf of the lads, especially the ones who were with us last season, that coming so close has only had a positive impact on us for the coming season. We’ve now got experience in this league and we know what its about. Getting within touching distance of winning the league last season hurt, and I personally don’t want to have that feeling again. So it’s only made us all hungrier to finish top.”
Getting so close was indeed what Parkway did. Putting together a winning streak of over 15 games with some special performances thrown in during that time. The winning run would be built from the goalkeeping and defensive unit upwards, and Nick’s partner in crime would be Rob Farkins. The centre back pairing are the best of friends off the pitch which helps when coping with Western League strikers:
“Me and Farks do have a strong partnership, we’ve known each other for years and played previously together. Defensively, as a unit, I personally think we have the best defence in the league along with the best keeper. We’ve shown that with the amount of goals we conceded last season and the new lads that have come in have made it even stronger. In terms of who’s in charge (Nick or Farks) we all share the load, as we all have a good wealth of experience, but Farks is vice-captain and a natural leader. He’s been captain of every previous club he’s played for, he leads by example and I have a lot of respect for him.
The next test for Parkway comes in the shape of Bridport, a mid-table team from last season but Nick understands that these are the most important matches: “Bridport were a strong outfit last season especially when we played them away. It’s an extremely tough place to go. We will be favourites and expected to win the game – which we need to make sure we do. This is when the squad should shine, from the management to motivate us, through to the players turning up with the right attitude and mindset. It’s definitely games like this that are vital if we are going to win the league because the so called ‘bigger games’ will take care of themselves.”
That was centre back and superb servant of Plymouth Parkway Nick Milton talking to #ppfc – Thanks to Nick for his time and you can tell by his words that everyone within the squad are all fully focused with the task in hand. It is early days in the season but these might just prove the most important over the course of the season.
Words by Mike Parrish