Blackburn legend Tony Parkes breaks down over diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease

Blackburn club legend Tony Parkes recently broke down over his diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease.

The 70-year-old racked up 350 appearances for Blackburn after joining the club from Buxton in the 1970s.

Speaking in an interview with BBC Lancashire Sport, Parkes’ daughter Natalie detailed her father’s illness saying,

“Things are a lot different now for my dad. We’ve had quite a few big changes over the last couple of years.”

“It started slowly but it’s very apparent now – he recently had a diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease.”

“It’s changed a lot of things for my dad, his independence being the big one. He now no longer feels comfortable doing things by himself. He likes to be with me a lot.”

“He looks fine – but it’s when you try and have a conversation the words aren’t always there, the memories aren’t always there.”

The former Blackburn player can’t recollect games as well as he used to as Natalie remarked, “It’s sad really. We’re watching these matches on the TV and he can’t always remember all the details like he used to be able to.”

“He used to remember everything, every little thing about his time at Blackburn and his time when Kenny [Dalglish] was there.”

“On every away match they used to always be playing practical jokes on each other, normally Alan Shearer would be doing something, making the coach driver eat ridiculous amounts of cream crackers at one stage.”

“It’s hard now because those memories have gone. It’s things like the Hall of Fame, his friends who are trying to keep those memories alive for him and trying not to let everything completely slip away.”

Parkes broke into tears while his daughter spoke to BBC Lancashire Sport and when asked about the difficulties of his illness replied incoherently saying, “I like to go on walks, that’s my big thing now. We have lovely times.”

Parkes featured heavily as Blackburn caretaker manager between full-time managers at Ewood Park and was unexpectedly shown the door upon the arrival of Mark Hughes and his backroom staff in 2004.

Parkes continues to battle his illness along with his advancing age and the Blackburn legend is being taken care of by his daughter Natalie who has quit her job as a teacher to tend to her ailing father.

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Speaking about her loss Natalie said, “He gets upset. He knows things are different, and he can’t always express that.”

“For me who’s taken on the caring role 24/7 and resigned from my teaching job, he knows it’s tough on me. But there’s nothing he can do about it – he can’t change how he is.”

“I’m trying to come to terms with the fact that I lost my dad before Christmas and this Tony Parkes is different.”

“He’s still got the glimmers there every now and then but it’s not the same person I grew up with and as a family that is really tough to deal with.” she added.