Crystal Palace coach Mark Bright talks about the Wrighty and Brighty footballing duo, and what it's like to see more of his old mate Ian Wright again after all these years.
Five years ago I was up in Edinburgh for a funeral of a former teammate at Leicester City, Bobby Smith.
As we prepared to part ways a suggestion was made by one of my ex-colleagues. “Do you know what, we should meet up once a year and stay in touch,” he said.
It's like a figure of speech that people just feel the need to say, ‘Oh let’s stay in touch, let’s hook up, lets get together,’ but in reality, we never really do. Football and friendship can be a funny thing.
One minute you’re flying along in formation like a group of Red Arrows, then the next thing you know, you all break off and go in different directions and your life takes a different path.
People always say when they meet me ‘How’s Wrighty? How’s Wrighty?’ Wright and Bright were together in the 1990’s as a partnership, so people just assume we hang out every night together or see each other every weekend! We just bump into each other every now and again, we have a laugh and we reminisce just like we did on Christmas Day when I was educating him on using WhatsApp!
I don’t think you could have a prolific partnership on the field like we had and not be friends off it, though. We’re a very similar age, we like the same things, used to socialise together, work together and share a room together. In the old days players used to share a room and you find out about each other’s lives, their backgrounds etc; when you find out everything about that person, you know what makes them tick.
I played with Ian in the 1990 FA Cup final, I remember consoling him when he found out he wasn’t in the starting line up against Manchester United. Then in 1993 when Ian was playing for Arsenal and I for Sheffield Wednesday, I remember looking down the line in the tunnel and thinking there was one of my best friends, someone was going to end disappointed today, and I didn't want it to be me. After the game he was one of the first to come over and comfort me when we lost. We went on holiday shortly afterwards and he never mentioned the game, and hasn’t since.
This Saturday (21 February) Crystal Palace host an awareness day in support of Prostate Cancer UK – and it’s a cause incredibly close to my heart.
I’m proud to be an ambassador for the charity but the statistics are harrowing; 10,000 men die from prostate cancer every year. So I was chuffed to hear that Wrighty had recently got himself checked out. I’m right behind Men United and we want men to get to get together and do something amazing.
What better place to convene with your mates than a big derby game at Selhurst Park. These are the games you really look forward to, and that passion is shared from players, management and fans. Let’s hope all those friends go home happy this evening.
Do something amazing with your mates. Join Men United and help beat prostate cancer.