Chesterfield goalkeeper, Dylan Parkin, signed his first professional contract this week, and says that it’s a reward for the hard work he’s put in on the training pitch.
Parkin joined team mates Jack Brownell, Ricky German, Joe Rowley and Jay Smith in putting pen to paper, and admits that hearing the good news came as a relief.
“I’ve had a lot of ups and downs, with more downs than ups in my two years here,” Parkin said.
“It’s tough to deal with things like that, and when I heard Mark Smith tell me that I can relax and that I’ve got my contract I was buzzing!
“I rang my mum and she started crying, which was quite funny, my dad told me that he was always proud of me, I also told my grandparents and they were really happy as well.”
So with a first professional contract in the bag, what are Parkin’s aims between now and when pre-season comes along?
“The plan is to play out the rest of the youth team games,” he explained. “Brad Jones has played quite a few games recently while I’ve been with the reserves, as that’s what we agreed, but I want to get as much game time in before it finishes, and start again in pre-season.
“Not many people like pre-season, but I enjoy it! I hate the period where we’re off because I can’t switch off, I’m always doing something.
“Being with the first team full time will be a new experience for me, but I’m going to try my best and take it step by step.”
Since signing with the club in 2014, Parkin has made big steps in his development, featuring in the youth team as a 16-year-old, and even stepping up to the substitutes bench for first team matches. And with there being four youth team games left, he’ll take on the role as a more senior member of Dylan Kerr’s squad, by helping the new first-year scholars to settle in.
It’s not all been plain sailing though, as Parkin earlier admitted, but he’s certainly come through those difficult times a better player, as his contract signing shows.
Reflecting on his time at the Proact thus far, Parkin said: “I started playing for the youth team when I was an U16; there was a lot of pressure on me as they were trying to win the league at that time.
“We brought in a young team after the second years were told (if they had obtained a professional contract) and it all went downhill. At the start of last season there was also pressure on me, because I knew I’d be playing and I had to work to keep my place, so that Mark could trust me and carry on playing me.
“I struggled to start off with; because I was low on confidence, but as I got more into it I gradually started to learn from everything, took in that knowledge and got better throughout the games.”
Parkin is yet to make his first team debut, but has often travelled with the squad for games, the first of which came in September for the match with AFC Wimbledon.
He recalled: “It took me by surprise, because I’d played against Bradford City (for the youth team) on the Friday and when I got back, Danny Wilson told me that I was travelling with the first team, it was a big shock as travelling to Wimbledon is pretty far away.
“I’ve done it quite a bit since, and you take in bits, especially with Evo [Ian Evatt] and Hirdy [Sam Hird] talking to you all the time, encouraging you.
“Being in that environment is very hostile, and it’s ruthless. Before the game it’s incredible but after the game it can be quite an intimidating atmosphere, particularly if you’ve not taken any points from the game.
“But it was great that I could take that atmosphere to the youth team, use the experience and take it forward.”
And having played in youth and reserve team matches, and sampling the match day atmosphere, there’s just one box left to tick - a first team debut.
Parkin knows that he’ll have to work hard to get there, but should the opportunity ever arise, he’ll be more than ready.
He added: “It would be surreal; being on the bench there’s always that what if? But if the gaffer came up to me and said that you’re playing, I’d prepare myself.
“There’d obviously be a lot of pressure on me, but it would be a good experience and one I would definitely learn from, and if the experience was to come again I’d take what I’d learned and build on it.”