Alex Wright (footballer, born 1930)

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Alex Wright
Personal information
Date of birth 11/12/1930
Date of death 12/1/2000 age 69
Place of death Linwood, Scotland
Playing position Inside forward, wing half[1]
Youth career
–1948 Dalry Thistle[1]
Senior career*
Years Team Apps (Gls)
1948–1962 Partick Thistle[1] 233 (52)
1963–1964 East Fife[2] 32 (5)
Total 265 (57)
Teams managed
1966–1970 St. Mirren
1970–1972 Dunfermline Athletic
1973–1977 Dumbarton

* Senior club appearances and goals counted for the domestic league only.

† Appearances (Goals).

Alex Wright (11 December 1930 – 12 January 2000) was a Scottish football player and manager.[3]

Provisionally signed by Partick Thistle as a teenager and "farmed out" to Ayrshire Junior side Dalry Thistle, Wright signed full professional forms with Partick on Friday 28 January 1949 and made his debut the following day. It was exactly seven weeks after his eighteenth birthday and he was fielded wearing the attacking number-8 shirt (inside-right) in front of packed terraces in the West Glasgow derby against Rangers at Ibrox Park. Wright performed for Partick Thistle most of his playing career,[3] being selected in all of the five forward positions (numbers 7 to 11), before converting to a more defensively minded wing-half position (numbers 4 and 6) later in his career. He even donned the goalkeeper's jersey on more than one occasion as an emergency measure during an era when injury substitutions were not yet permitted.

Wright appeared in the Scottish League Cup Finals of 1953, 1956 and 1958, each of which ended in defeat [3] and, in 1959, captained the Glasgow Select to a 5-1 victory in its annual challenge match against the Sheffield Select. He subsequently played season 1963–64 for East Fife before having to retire due to persistent knee injuries. He became a coach, working briefly for Clyde and Partick Thistle,[3] before being appointed manager of St. Mirren at the age of 35, in October 1966.[3]

St. Mirren had flirted with relegation for several seasons and eventually succumbed at the end of that 1966–67 season, but Wright guided them to promotion back to the top flight at the first attempt.[3] and with one of the division's best-ever performance records. Back in the top division, and operating with a total squad of only 16 semi-professional players, St Mirren sat in 3rd position behind Celtic and Rangers following a run of only 3 defeats in the opening 23 matches. A spate of injuries affected the remaining 11 games but the side was in contention for European qualification until the final fixtures.

After a second full season at Love Street, during which his youth policy introduced three future full Scotland internationals to the club and four others who would go on to play in European competition with other teams, Wright was head-hunted to become manager of Dunfermline Athletic in October 1970.[3] The Pars had been European Cup-Winners' Cup Semi-Finalists in 1969 but had begun the 1970-71 season without a victory in its opening 16 matches and was suffering a serious revolt among its players. Indeed, over the club's most recent 34 competitive matches (the length of a league season) the equivalent of only 17 points had been gathered, a figure which would have meant relegation in almost any previous post-war season. Wright settled the players' grievances and improved results, avoiding relegation on goal-difference following a dramatic final series of results.

However, he held the managerial position at Dunfermline for little over half of the following season as the club revealed an extent of financial hardship which almost led to its demise.[3] As the club's bank threatened closure, Wright was forced to sell his most effective attacking players and field a team largely formed from his previous season's youth squad. Despite a strong defensive record, the team's failure to avoid narrow defeats left it again in a precarious league position. When a new boardroom regime initiated cost-cutting measures, Wright was presented with the choice of remaining under significantly worsened conditions or being replaced; he has chosen to work without the protection of a contract. Having uprooted his family from the west coast only five months earlier at the club's insistence, in order to save on travelling expenses, Wright felt unable to accept the pay-cut being insisted upon. In February 1972, former Dunfermline player George Miller was appointed to assume the combined responsibilities of Wright, his assistant manager Willie McLean, and the club's chief administrative assistant.

Following a brief period as assistant manager of Dumbarton, Wright was appointed manager in late 1972, a post he held for four years. Despite the Club having spent the previous 50 seasons in Division 2 prior to his appointment, Wright guided them to an eighty-year high of tenth position in the Scottish League in 1973–74 and a Scottish Cup semi-final appearance in 1975–76.[3] Youth development was once again a significant feature of Alex Wright's tenure at Dumbarton. Future full Scotland internationalists Murdo MacLeod, Ian Wallace and Graeme Sharp were introduced to the senior game, as were minor internationalists Graeme Sinclair and Owen Coyle.

Alex Wright was employed as Dumbarton's sole full-time employee in various roles for 18 years,[3] including General Manager and Executive Director. After being made redundant from Boghead Park in 1990, Wright then worked as Chief Scout for Kilmarnock under managers Alex Totten and Bobby Williamson, until retiring to become as Scottish Scout for Millwall and then Bolton under Bruce Rioch, and Leeds under David O'Leary.[3]

Wright's wholehearted and skilled contribution is widely recognised in footballing circles. Despite only serving a single season at Clyde and East Fife, he is remembered in the former's Centenary Brochure and the latter's historical display at their relocated Bayview Stadium. In addition to featuring in a hardback book of Partick Thistle Legends, Wright was posthumously inducted into the official St Mirren Hall of Fame. In 1996 he became only the fifth person to be honoured by an SFA Lifetime Achievement Award.

In the 1991 pre-season, Sir Alex Ferguson brought his successful Manchester United European Cup-Winners' Cup team north to play a testimonial match in Alex Wright's honour.

Honours[edit]

St Mirren
Dumbarton

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c "PARTICK THISTLE : 1946/47 - 2009/10". Post War English & Scottish Football League A - Z Player's Database. Retrieved 26 January 2011. 
  2. ^ "EAST FIFE : 1946/47 - 2009/10". Post War English & Scottish Football League A - Z Player's Database. Retrieved 26 January 2011. 
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k "Alex Wright 1970-72". Dunfermline Athletic F.C. official website. Retrieved 26 January 2011.