Sir Geoffrey Boycott remembers friend Sir Michael as ‘soul of Yorkshire’

Former England cricket player Geoffrey Boycott (Danny Lawson/PA)
Former England cricket player Geoffrey Boycott (Danny Lawson/PA)

Sir Geoffrey Boycott has described Sir Michael Parkinson as “the soul of Yorkshire” following the television chat show host’s death after a brief illness, aged 88.

Before his famous broadcasting career got off the ground, Sir Michael and Barnsley Cricket Club opening partner Dickie Bird had trials at Yorkshire alongside future England batter Sir Geoffrey.

Sir Michael once kept Sir Geoffrey out of his hometown Barnsley team but the pair, plus Bird, a former international umpire and one of the most recognisable figures in cricket, established lifelong friendships from their teens.

He told GB News: “He was the best chat show host because he listened to people.

“He not only asked questions but he listened to them and he actually liked them.

Sir Michael Parkinson death
Sir Michael Parkinson (Zak Hussein/PA)

“In fact, he didn’t want them on his show unless he wanted to have them.

“He never lost his Yorkshire roots.

“Michael was Yorkshire in every way and he was the soul of Yorkshire.

“He understood how we think, how we talk and that’s why he was able to write about Yorkshire people like me.”

Sir Geoffrey recalled having dinner with Sir Michael and his wife Mary after a Lord’s Test match on a Saturday, adding: “Sunday mornings, we’d go cricket coaching in the fields with his kids.

“He was just a lovely man.

“He loved cricket, he loved laughter – he would laugh about himself with the emu.

“He never lost his humour, his warmth, his Yorkshire in him that made him great.”

Bird has paid tribute to his “dear friend” and said they spoke on the phone earlier this week.

Honorary degrees for Sir Michael Parkinson and Dickie Bird
Sir Michael Parkinson (left) and Dickie Bird (John Giles/PA)

Bird told the PA news agency: “I shall miss him, I’ll tell you that.

“Not only was he a friend but he was a dear friend and I just don’t know how I will cope, I will miss him so much.

“There will never be another Parky.”

Yorkshire County Cricket club paid tribute to Sir Michael and held a minute of silence ahead of play against Hampshire at York on Thursday.

Former England fast bowler Darren Gough paid tribute to the broadcaster who he regarded as a close friend.

Yorkshire Vikings v Hampshire – York Cricket Club
Yorkshire and Hampshire lining up for a minute’s silence to remember Sir Michael Parkinson (Allan McKenzie/

Gough, Yorkshire managing director of cricket, said: “He was a Barnsley boy, like myself, and it was an absolute pleasure to know him and his family.

“We are all devastated here at Yorkshire and thoughts of everyone at the club are with Sir Michael’s family and friends at this sad time.”

Barnsley Football Club also paid their respects, saying on Twitter: “Barnsley Football Club is deeply saddened to hear of the passing of Sir Michael Parkinson CBE.

“The town has lost one of its favourite sons, and our thoughts are with his family and friends at this time.”

Sir Michael interviewed a number of high-profile sportspeople, most notably former world heavyweight champion Muhammad Ali, widely regarded as the greatest boxer of all-time, with whom he had a couple of tense exchanges in the 1970s.

It was on Sir Michael’s show in 2008 where Victoria Beckham, wife of former England captain David, revealed she referred to the ex-midfielder as Golden Balls, a nickname he would become synonymous with.