In a season of loans, we check in on one of the original pioneers who made their mark at Bolitho

Last season’s title winning campaign now seems like a distant memory as the new look squad navigates its way through Plymouth Parkway’s inaugural Southern League Premier South campaign.

Whilst all eyes are firmly focused on the current campaign and rightly so, many lessons were learnt during last season’s glittering campaign, none more so than the impact loan players can have on a non-league football club.

The current season has already seen some important loan signings begin to make their own mark. Right Back Harrison King is quickly proving his qualities as he spends time at Bolitho Park from his parent club Exeter City. The club have forged strong links with Yeovil Town and the introduction of midfielder Toby Stephens has added quality and more options into midfield. Stephens has recently been joined by striker Ollie Hulbert who will also look to make his mark at the Plymouth club. 

One player this season that can’t go unnoticed has been the introduction of Plymouth Argyle goalkeeper Adam Parkes who has shown his qualities since arriving at Bolitho. His arrival continues the excellent friendship with pro outfit Plymouth Argyle and it would be two players from the Pilgrims who left a big imprint on management, players and fans alike last season.

We all remember Finley Craske and quite simply, it’s difficult not too. His antics, tackles and that goal against Larkhall Athletic has somewhat made him a cult figure at Bolitho. He wasn’t a 30-goal a season striker, just a right back with a persona that everyone warmed to, none more so than the gaffer who stated on record many times that the talented right-back was his favourite, something he said he would never do! 

Why everyone would laud over Finley, it would be his Argyle teammate who arrived at the club during a mini crisis and arguably became the catalyst for the team to go and lift the league title. His name, Ethan Mitchell.

Photo provided by Dave Crawford

A proud Scouser, Ethan provided something different as his work rate and strength made him stand out from the crowd. After being crowned champions, the tenacious midfielder would be released by Argyle and would head back to Liverpool. The setback wouldn’t halt his footballing journey and weeks later, the midfielder would sign for Championship side Wigan Athletic. 

Fast forward to the present day and Ethan can be found enjoying a mid-season break on foreign soil due to the Qatar World Cup: “Yeah, it’s all good, i’m currently away with Wigan’s first team in Turkey for a mid-season training camp and I was made up that I got the call to go and i’m really excited to see what the new year brings.”

Ethan adds: “I’m loving life at the minute, i’m playing consistently for the 23’s and have been playing at the centre of defence instead of centre midfielder when i was at Parkway but yeah, really enjoying my football again.”

 

Photo provided by Dave Crawford

Despite being a proud scouser, a big move away from home at such a young age arguably turned the boy into a man quicker than most. Ethan explains: “It was a big decision for me to move so far away but it was also one of the best decisions I made and it helped me solely focus on my football. The move has made it even more special to return home with friends and family close by and Wigan on my doorstep.”

Despite moving back home, the Ocean city is never far from Ethan’s thoughts and his social media searches are tinted with the Yellow and Green of Plymouth. “Yeah, I always keep updated with both Parkway and Argyle whenever I can, normally that’s checking midweek scores along with Saturday 3pm kick-offs. I’m constantly checking Instagram and twitter and enjoy checking in on how the lads are getting on.”

Ethan and Finley would strike up a great friendship with the pair training with Argyle and playing a pivotal role in Parkway’s 2021-22 campaign and it’s that fable football story of making many friends from across the footballing landscape during a playing career. Ethan says: Yeah, Fin was great, as were all the boys during my time in Plymouth. They were so important during my time in the South West as they helped me settle into the group and that aided me to settle quickly on the pitch as well.”

Whilst Ethan would be good for Parkway, there is no doubt Parkway would be good for Ethan’s development and the scouser is in full agreement: “Yeah, I feel like when I was at Argyle, the best step forward for my development was to go out on loan and experience men’s football and I definitely got that coming into Lee’s team. I feel like I adapted better to men’s football and that’s what I enjoyed as it’s more my game in the sense of tacking, heading, kicking. Proper battles.”

Photo provided by Dave Crawford

Ethan’s first loan spell at Parkway ended abruptly following injury but the midfielder would return for the final two months of the season to galvanise the squad for the thrilling and extremely busy finale. It was more than a cameo as the scouser was handed countless man of the match awards and played an almost ever present role during a whirlwind few months. 

Ethan explains: From making my debut in a Parkway shirt, to scoring two goals against Evesham United, to my initiation song on the coach, I still feel like the most memorable moment in a Parkway shirt has to be on the final day of the season and winning the league. I’ve never experienced something like that before and I was really thankful, not only to Lee, but all the lads as well for being part of the group on that final day.”

Photo provided by Dave Crawford

Plymouth Parkway thanks Ethan for the impact he made last season and a special mention must go to his family who made the pilgrimage for many games, both home and away and who were there to enjoy the celebrations on the final day of the season. 

In a new era for the football club, loans from pro clubs could be more of a regular occurrence as this season has proved already. The hope is to continue to facilitate these players and give them a platform to excel as they continue to learn and understand their footballing journey. 

We won’t forget the loan class of 21-22 anytime soon.

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