THE Derry City Social Club was packed to capacity last Friday night, the large attendance turning up to pay tribute to the career of former Derry City, Coleraine, Sligo Rovers and Finn Harps winger, Brian Wright.
And with quite a few “football heads” in the attendance, local supporters gave Brian’s former team-mates a particularly warm welcome.
Members of the Coleraine team which claimed the Irish League title back in 1974 were there to honour him with top players such as Dessie Dickson, Victor Hunter, Ivan Murray, Johnny McCurdy and Ray Gaston all there in support of the function.
Indeed, former League of Ireland President and ex-Finn Harps chairman, Derek Wilkinson, travelled from Bray for the event with former Harps manager, Patsy McGowan, also there to entertain the attendance with a few words.
Add in so many local players who played with Brian and it really was a “Who’s Who” of north-west football.
Interestingly, Brian Wright holds quite a few records. He was a prominent member of the famous Foyle Harps team which won five consecutive Buncrana Summer Cup titles with so many of the players in that team progressing to play senior football.
Brian is also the youngest player to play in an Irish Cup final when, at 16-years-old, he represented Derry City in the 1957 Cup Final when the “Candy Stripes” lost out 2-0 to Glenavon. And in that final he was one of five “all Derry born forwards” - Jobby Crossan, Frank Campbell, Paddy Coyle and Eddie Nash making up the quintet.
While he represented the local senior clubs, he also had a short sojourn in England when signing for Port Vale before returning home to rejoin the Brandywell club then managed by the great Willie Ross.
He joined Finn Harps in 1969, his last port of call, and he is remembered as the first player to score a senior goal for the Ballybofey club when they entered the league of Ireland losing 10-2 to a star-studded Shamrock Rovers side at Finn Park. Brian Wright netted the first Harps goal in that game back in August, 1969. Interestingly it was a “header,” netted by the smallest player on the park!
In the company of his wife, Katie and his entire family circle it was also an emotional night for Brian and the Wright family who seemed to be astounded at the size of the attendance which arrived to honour one of Derry’s favourite footballing sons.