Time flies when you’re having fun
Sometimes in football, things just seem to slot into place and this statement can be made with the appointment of Mark Russell as Plymouth Parkway chairman as the entrepreneur celebrates his five-year anniversary in style.
Speaking to Plymouth Live after his appointment, the new chairman would state: “The longer-term ambition would be to push the club as far as I think we could push them. Now where that is I don’t honestly know, but I think Plymouth as a city could accommodate a Conference South team. Our five-year plan is that we would like to be in the Southern League.” It would become a bold statement from the football mad chairman and next week will finally see if that five-year plan has been realised. Even if the upward movement falls apart, it has been a whirlwind five years across all aspects of the football club.
During office hours, Mark can be found overseeing Optimus-pm, a multiple award-winning affiliate marketing agency that was founded back in 2006. Out of office hours, the Optimus-pm CEO spends his time plotting the continual development of Plymouth Parkway. Mark will be the first to say it’s not a one-man band and far from it. It’s the unity and vision of the board at Plymouth Parkway that make the football club tick. Vice-Chairman Gez Baggott, Secretary Genny Turner and General Manager Garry Turner along with Mark, have built a bedrock that the club has thrived on.
The football club before the appointment was successful and enjoyed continual improvements with the passing of each footballing campaign. Cult figures and legends were made since the clubs founding in 1988. The chairman has always stated the football club had a solid footing and was running in the correct way but, as a businessman he could see the potential of ‘Project Plymouth Parkway’.
Arguably the best signing under the Chairman’s tenure has been the appointment of Lee Hobbs as Parkway manager and with the Plymothian in the dugout, the Parkway express began to gather momentum.
Promotion into the Western League was achieved in the chairman’s second season as they moved into step 5 of the footballing pyramid for the first time in the club’s history. As the Yellows evolved on the pitch, the board were busy plotting a new club house which opened in the summer of 2019, thus beginning the regeneration of Bolitho Park.
Further silverware would be added to the trophy cabinet before Covid-19 halted proceedings, but the board were quick to act and navigate their way through the pandemic and numerous lockdowns. The third lockdown would see the club embark on the biggest project to date, and will no doubt go on to be a seminal moment for all that are connected and support the Yellow of Parkway.
Truro City would approach the club as talks of ground sharing ahead of the 2021/22 season gathered momentum. Having a businessman leading the negotiations would be invaluable as a plan would be put into place to form something special at Bolitho Park and help strengthen the legacy that many had worked so hard to build.
The chairman understands the history and the passion that so many have towards the football club and that’s why it works. He will answer any question by any supporter and on match days, Mark can be found working the gate before he agonises over the 90 minutes of football. He’s a chairman that gets Parkway, and Parkway get him. From the social media side of the club, to granting access for a documentary, to the running of a match day, a structure and plan is always put in place and over the course of the past five-years, the plan has worked.
From the highs of Peninsula glory, to the lows of that famous winless October: blood, sweat and tears have been in abundance which have led the club to the precipice of the vision Mark Russell set out to achieve five-years ago.
Not bad, not bad indeed.