King’s Lynn FC legend Mick Wright relives glory days of playing Everton in the FA Cup, when top Linnets players earned £25 a week and two quid extra if they won
- Credit: Archant
Some footballers now make more money in a year than an average working person will in their lifetime. But it wasn't quite like that in Mick Wright's day.
He played for King's Lynn FC during the 60s and when asked how much money he made during his time with the club, Mr Wright said: 'That's easy, I made this much,' before making a nought sign with his thumb and forefinger.
'I didn't play for the money,' he said. 'I played because I loved football, simple as that.'
'If you wanted to get rich you didn't play for King's Lynn.'
The self-proclaimed 'football nut' said he was born to become a footballer. From a very young age, his life was consumed by the sport - he played football on Christmas Day and Boxing Day and knew he would get football boots every Christmas without fail.
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Born in Moulton, Mr Wright played for Newmarket Town and even had a few trials with West Ham's youth team. He was a rising star by the age of 19, when he signed for Lynn manager Len Richly.
'It was the start of King's Lynn's FA Cup run and they wanted players to boost their chances.' Mr Wright said.
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And boost their chances he did. Mr Wright said some of his proudest memories were scoring the winning goal against Coventry in the FA Cup and going on to play against Everton - despite losing 4-0.
'I seem to remember games where we were beaten quite heavily, but I know I got the goals that won the games.' Mr Wright said.
He still holds the British record for most appearances without ever getting a booking.
'I don't think that record can ever be beaten,' he said. 'When footballers get a slight injury now they do not play for ages.'
Whenever he sustained an injury on the pitch, he lived under the British mantra of 'Keep Calm and Carry On' and never missed a game.
He has broken his nose numerous times, ruptured his spleen and was elbowed by a Cambridge City footballer during a match which led to him bleeding heavily.
'I still went out for the second half but after I got in an ambulance and taken to hospital, I stayed there for a few weeks. I was told I might lose my kidney,' he added.
'I was told to have a lot of rest which I protested. But I'm glad I did rest, I've never been in so much pain.'
Even after suffering a heart attack 10 years ago, Mr Wright stayed oblivious for five months before finding out what had happened. He said he 'felt bad' but still managed to walk his dogs every morning and carried on going to work. Two years later, he suffered a stroke which left him with a blood clot in his leg.
'People know that if I hadn't suffered a heart attack and stroke I would still be trying to play,' he said.
Thinking back on his time with the club, the Linnet star holds no regrets over his 20-year career but sometimes, he said, he can't help but think about what more he could have become.
The most he ever earned was £25 a week, with his normal pay being £12 plus a £2 bonus if the team won a match or £1 if they drew.
'I always believed I could play a higher level, sometimes I think I didn't fulfil my full potential,' he said. 'I wonder what would've happened if I left and gone elsewhere, I think more about it now.'
But Mr Wright, now 74, lives a more relaxed lifestyle with his wife, Ruth, running the Old Granary Antiques Centre - a quaint treasure shop almost hidden in the quiet streets of South Quay.
When asked whether she felt like a glamorous footballer's wife during his heydays, Mrs Wright replied: 'No, not really. With four children to look after I felt more like a footballer's widow.'
Mr Wright described his children - Shaunagh, Karen, Lloyd and Niall - as being 'noncommittal' when it comes to sports.
But sadness quickly overwhelmed Mr Wright when he spoke of his eldest daughter, who died aged 47 of breast cancer.
He fought back the tears when remembering how it felt to lose her: 'It was awful, she's got three young boys.'
Mr Wright has been nominated for the freedom of the borough, the council's highest honorary title given to an individual or group, which he said was a 'terrific honour', adding: 'It wouldn't break my heart if I didn't get it, I had my fun playing football.'