Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Ian Wright & The Club That Made Him – Crystal Palace

With Crystal Palace F.C currently in administration, times are tough for the South London Club at the moment, as the wait for a buyer goes on, and the future of the management team and players remains uncertain.

It has been 'reported' in the press that Ian Wright is interested in making a return to the club that gave him his first break - only this time in a coaching role.

Here we take a look at the man whose life changed forever when he pulled on the red and blue jersey of Crystal Palace, and triggered one of the most successful periods of time in the history of the Club.

Ian Edward Wright was born 3rd November 1963 in Woolwich, South London. He was the third son of Jamaican immigrants. His father Herbert left home when he was four, and he was brought up by his mother Nesta.

He trained as a bricklayer and plasterer when he left school at 16, and spent a week in Chelmsford Prison for not paying motoring fines.

Prison scared him sufficiently to put him on the straight and narrow, and he focused his energy on playing football for his local side 'Ten Em Bee.'

He was rejected by Brighton and Southend before Crystal Palace talent scout Pete Prentice happened to see Wright in a local Sunday-league match playing for Greenwich Borough and invited him to have a trial at Selhurst Park

He impressed then-manager Steve Coppell, and signed professional terms for Crystal Palace in August 1985, on an initial contract worth £100-a-week, just three months short of his 22nd birthday.

In his first game for Palace he came on as a substitute against Oldham Athletic and within minutes he scored.

In his first season, Wright scored nine times to finish as Palace's joint second-highest scorer with Phil Barber
When Mark Bright joined him at Palace two years later, the partnership clicked and Wright blossomed.

Their strike partnership was a major factor in taking the the club into the top flight via the playoffs in 1989.

Behind the scenes at Palace not everything was flowers and chocolates!

Wright and Palace's other young black players, Andy Gray and Tony Finnegan had been racially abused on the training ground by their team-mates, perhaps unsurprising given then chairman Ron Noades’s controversial statements about the make-up of his team, and coming to a head in 1991, when he said of the current crop of talented black players plying their trade at Palace that "the black players at this club lend the side a lot of skill and flair, but you also need white players in there to balance things up and give the team some brains and some common sense."

It was an astonishing things to say.......and Wright reported Noades to the Commission of Racial Equality.

Abused on his England B debut at Millwall and fined for spitting at racist fans at Oldham and QPR, Wright became an effective spokesperson against racial prejudice in football.

Ian Wright is probably best remembered for scoring two goals as a Crystal Palace substitute in the 1990 FA Cup Final against Manchester United at Wembley, having just recovered from a broken leg, sustained earlier in the season.
Wright equalized for Palace a few minutes after coming onto the field, then put Palace 3-2 ahead in extra-time before Mark Hughes’ equalizer seven minutes from time forced a replay, saved United’s blushes and many say the job of manager Sir Alex Ferguson.
It was rumored Ferguson was on the verge of dismissal if he didn’t deliver some silverware after several fruitless years as United manager. However United went on to win the replay, and the rest as they say is history.

In February 1991 Wright was handed his England debut by manager Graham Taylor.
He started in the 2-0 victory against Cameroon at Wembley.
Whilst a Palace player Wright made five appearances for the full England side.
Also in 1991 he completed his century of Palace goals to become only the fifth man to achieve that feat since the club's foundation in 1905.

In September 1991 Wright moved to Arsenal for £2.5m

In total Ian Wright played 227 games for Crystal Palace scoring 117 goals in a little over six seasons.

No comments: