Seldom have I been so despondent and truly astonished at the decision taken by the borough council’s cabinet in not recommending awarding Mick Wright the Freedom of the Borough.
I feel that all my hard work has been cast aside. When in 2002 as the cabinet member for culture, I was approached by my long time friend Dr Paul Richards about reintroducing the civic award of Freedom of the Borough, I knew the mountain there was to climb to bring the Philistines on board with the idea. In the end they were silenced by the guarantee that the award would be possible for everyone, not only a small select few with the exception that councillors would be banned for a minimum of ten years after leaving office. It is pleasing to learn that a Hunstanton Independent councillor and a Conservative from the Fens spoke up for Mick Wright suggesting that if he did not qualify under the present criteria then the criteria should be changed. I do believe that in showing young people that it is possible to compete and win without once resorting to fouling or abusing others Mick Wright already fits the criteria. Not simply for his sporting achievements, as great as they were, but for his service to everyone, everywhere. It would be very wrong were anyone to compare Mick Wright to highly paid grand prix drivers or Olympic coaches in sports financed by the Lottery millions. Football is the nation’s game. In despair, as well as joy, we all have magical moments of when we were reunited at a time when forces are tearing us apart. For my generation it will always be a Russian linesman and those immortal words of Kenneth Wolstenholme. But be it Ronaldo winking as Wayne Rooney leaves the field or the breaking of hearts of the valiant Lionesses in stoppage time. We can all recall matches we have seen. Mick Wright played his career in a very different era to today’s stars. The England captain Johnny Hayes was paid £10 a week when Mick Wright was starting out for Lynn. Then people cycled or travelled by bus as there were few cars on the roads. Yet Tuesday Market Place was heaving with stalls selling every kind of wares on the days farmers and dealers from across East Anglia came to buy and sell stock at the cattle market where Sainsburys now stands. On Saturday after working the morning, many in the afternoon would go to see Lynn play cheering on Mick and the lads. Later when salaries and transfer fees rose, Mick Wright rejected all offers staying loyal to Lynn. Playing over 1,100 games for the town’s football team without ever being booked,Mick Wright not only achieved a British record that is unlikely to ever be equalled, he personified sporting competition. Most of those matches were played before West Norfolk Council even existed. Eddie Edgeley, Betty Barton, Harold Birdseye and all the other now passed away old Lynn borough councillors would have duly noted the sporting achievement. They would have applauded Mick Wright’s loyalty and what a distinction it was for a fierce competitor, as Mick was, to always play fair and never beneath that standard. I am in no doubt they would have been proud to award Mick Wright the Freedom of the Borough.
Alderman Slim Wilkinson
Archdale Street , Lynn