Ex-Linnets boss frustrated at Freedom ‘snub’

Sports awards night at Kings Lynn Corn Exchange
Lifetime Achievement Award Mick Wright ANL-160127-223802009
Sports awards night at Kings Lynn Corn Exchange Lifetime Achievement Award Mick Wright ANL-160127-223802009

A former King’s Lynn manager and footballer has expressed his frustration at a Linnets legend not being awarded the Freedom of the Borough.

Linnets president Keith Rudd, who also played and managed the club, led a campaign with reserve team manager Robbie Back to get Mick Wright recognised for his outstanding contribution to the community.

Mr Wright served Lynn and West Norfolk for more than 25 years as a footballer and also as a successful businessman.

But despite getting hundreds of signatures on an online petition and submitting an application with eight nominations, Mr Rudd has made no headway with the council.

Mr Rudd, who along with Mr Back attended several meetings with council officials, said: “I have found the whole experience disappointing.

“It’s not that the application was turned down but that it was dismissed so readily by leaders of West Norfolk Council.

“I have to ask why doesn’t the council offer the Freedom to many more citizens from the working/business community so they remain part of our heritage?

“It is fine to give Sir John Barbirolli and our deceased Queen Mother such an honour, but ignore this distinction for our residents.

“It is plain within the criteria that outstanding achievements over a long period of time within our borough are worthy of consideration by the chamber elected to serve its community.

“I don’t believe that councillors followed the criteria. Given there were the required nominations submitted then surely it should have been put before the standards board and comments from individual council members should have been invited.”

In response to Mr Rudd’s frustrations, council leader Brian Long said: “The awarding of Freedom of the Borough is a rare and exceptional event.

“It is only granted to organisations or individuals who are widely acknowledged as having given outstanding service to the borough.

“We agree that Mick Wright has given exceptional service and commitment to his club and the game and this has been recognised through a lifetime achievement award at the West Norfolk Sports Awards.

“However, his dedication and achievements do not represent service to the borough.

“There are others who have carried out outstanding service in their field of work or role but again it would not represent service to the borough.

“If the accolade is given out to more people it would be less of a prestigious honour.”

Mr Wright’s epic career saw him turn out more than 1,100 times for the Linnets in three decades, never once picking up a booking or an injury.

Lynn-based Mr Wright, who holds a British record for the number of appearances, also twice scored the winning goal during the team’s celebrated FA Cup run of 1961-62.