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After an original loan deal appeared to be falling through, Parkin surprisingly signed for the Town in August 2002 for an undisclosed fee, believed to be up to £50,000, depending on appearances. His purchase ended Andy King's long search for a striker - though Town fans were sceptical after Parkin's previous campaign had seen him net just five times in forty games for Northampton.
Parkin's pre-season form allayed some of those fears, a period which saw him score as many goals as he played matches. It was his league debut, however, which immediately endeared him to the fans, when he scored a hat-trick in a 3-1 win over Barnsley on the opening day of the season - and he was immediately christened "Super Sam" by the Town faithful.
Parkin finished his first season on 25 league goals - the second highest total for a Town player since the war. He made a clean sweep of the end of season club awards, and finished second in the PFA Division Two Player of the Year award, but already his goalscoring exploits were alerting bigger clubs - a £150,000 bid from Coventry was refused late on in the season.
Parkin began the 2003/04 season where he left off, forming a formidable partnership with new signing Tommy Mooney, and he scored eight goals in the season's opening eleven games, including finishing off a brilliant one-touch move in the Carling Cup tie at Leeds, which put the Town 2-0 up. Unfortunately, a knee injury kept Parkin out of the side for the whole of October, a period where the Town failed to win, and failed to score in three games. The transformation on Parkin's return was immediate, as he scored the winner in a 1-0 win at Oldham.
By now, rumours were linking Parkin with a move to Sunderland or Q.P.R., but these were quickly quashed when he signed a new contract in November 2003, taking him up to the end of the 2005/06 season. By the end of the year, Parkin had bagged 23 goals in all competitions, again finishing as the club's top scorer, but this time coming second to Mooney in the "Player of the Year" award. With the Town missing out on promotion, rumours again began to surface - and in the close season, the Town board rejected a £250,000 bid from Hull City. It was also revealed that there was some sort of release clause in Parkin's contract, and it seemed just a matter of time before someone would break it.
With the departure of Mooney from the club, Parkin found himself with many different strike partners throughout the season - Rory Fallon, Andy Caton, Brian Howard, Darius Henderson, Christian Roberts, Jamie Slabber and Michael Proctor all taking the role of the second striker throughout the year. As well as this, he was also played as a lone striker on a number of occasions, and though it was a role that he played well, he admitted that it wasn't one that he relished. All the changes didn't have a negative effect on his scoring record however, and though he had a six-week spell without a goal during September and October (including a period in which he was suspended for three games following a sending-off against Bradford, that Parkin himself put down to the frustration of having gone four games without scoring), he came back with a bang, netting in successive games against Sheffield Wednesday and Torquay, and bagging a neat brace against Hull.
February also proved to be a great month for Parkin - a five goal blast in three games saw him take the League One player of the month award, then a hat-trick against Wrexham in March took him over the twenty goal mark for the third season in a row. These goals put him in contention to break Peter Eastoe's thirty-year-old post-war record of league goals in a season - but with the transfer deadline looming, it also put him firmly in the shop window.
By this point, Parkin had begun to be recognised by the national media - firstly being featured on the BBC website, and then he was also voted as the 25th best player outside of the Premiership by fellow professionals in FourFourTwo magazine, where he was photographed on the cover. The list of potential purchasers grew longer and longer, and no fewer than fourteen clubs were linked with him - the strongest rumours coming from Portsmouth, Sheffield United and Fulham, whose manager Chris Coleman was spotted at the County Ground. The club received just one serious offer though, believed to be from Crewe Alexandra - and another club, Burnley, made a audacious loan bid. Both were rejected.
Parkin also received international recognition in April 2005, when despite having England youth caps, and having rejected the advances of Northern Ireland manager Lawrie Sanchez, he was called up to the Scotland Future squad for a Future Cup qualifying match against Austria, for whom he qualified through his Scottish mother. Parkin started the game, but unfortunately for both him and Swindon, he lasted just 23 minutes, before being forced off with a hip injury sustained after a collision with the Austrian goalkeeper. The injury threatened to end his season, but he missed just two games, returning for the final game of the season against Chesterfield. It was widely expected that the game would be Parkin's last for the Town, and he signed off with a goal - the traditional end of season lap of honour being completely dominated by fans saluting "Super Sam's" time with the club.
With the season over, the rumours started flying again - Watford were the first side to make an offer, then, when that was refused, they returned with a deal that was reported by the Western Daily Press as being worth up to £550,000 plus two players. When this was refused, the club elaborated on the terms of the release clause, which in fact stated that Parkin could only talk to clubs who offered above it - there was no obligation that the Town had to accept it. Crewe returned with another offer that was again refused - and both Andy King and chief executive Sandy Grey reiterated that bids "significantly less than £1 million" were not going to even be discussed by the Town board. Eventually, the saga ended in June, when Swindon received four separate offers on the same day - including another improved offer from Watford, and new bids from Stoke, Norwich and Ipswich - Brighton were also priced out of the running. The following week, Parkin was transferred to Ipswich Town for an undisclosed fee - reported to amount to around £450,000 - where he signed a four-year deal.
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