A huge snub to sport in Lynn – that is the view of campaigner Keith Rudd after West Norfolk Council denied Linnets legend Mick Wright Freedom of the borough.
Council chiefs decided at a closed cabinet session on Tuesday that Mr Wright, who made 1,152 appearances in a Linnets shirt, did not “meet the criteria” to be granted the freedom of West Norfolk.
Mr Rudd said: “When you’ve got young kids out there reading this and looking what Mr Wright achieved for the town, what kind of message does this send to them?
“It more or less says that sport is irrelevant and doesn’t hold any significance. The council have no real consideration for sporting achievement.
“The football club has been one of the hubs of the community for donkeys years and in respect of what Mick has achieved any other borough council would have recognised this.
“You have to ask why every other borough council follows a legal criteria but here they choose to have one of their own?
Council bosses confirmed Mr Wright’s nomination for the civic honour last month after admitting it had not been handled properly.
It followed the submission of a formal complaint against the authority to the Local Government Ombudsman.
Council leader Brian Long said: “The cabinet has given careful consideration to the request for the freedom of the borough to be awarded.
“The cabinet was unanimous that Mick Wright did not meet the council’s previously published criteria.
“It was recommended that as a council we contact the Football Association to look to them to make an appropriate award to recommend for his service.”
Mr Long added: “I would also like to thank colleagues for their input in the meeting, especially councillors Bird and Pope who did outline the importance of sport to the borough, all of which was acknowledged by cabinet.”
Mr Wright, who is now in his 70s, joined the Linnets, on loan from Northampton, in 1961. Aged just 19, he went on to play 1,152 games without getting booked or sustaining an injury.
He also twice scored the winning goal during the club’s high-profile FA Cup run of 1961-62 and is in the King’s Lynn FC Hall of Fame.
Mr Wright said he was “disappointed but not bitter” at the outcome.
Mr Rudd, who played alongside and also managed Mr Wright during his time at The Walks, added: “Mick stayed loyal to the club for 20 years though thick and thin and bankruptcy.
“He has been a great servant to the town and its community. Every other borough exalts its sporting achievement, but not here.
“You had to know the man to really appreciate what a character he was and his loyalty to the club when it was in the dire straits in the 70s, when together we kept the club financially viable.
“It is a great disappointment as no-one else will ever achieve more than 1,250 games in 20 years for one club or 445 consecutive games in six years.”