Is Bernie Wright still with us? Before I moved to Walsall I watched my local team, Gloucester City and remember Bernie Wright playing in the early 80s. Has he been back as a former player?
@Longdogs - Hi mate. Bernie is still alive however has been totally divorced from football for many years. Steve Davies has spoken to him on the phone a couple of times but he has no interest in his time in football and doesn’t want anything to do with former players days etc. It was hoped he would attend the 74-5 reunion and was even offered a lift up here but no. His choice, of course, but we will never see him up here again. I’m told he don’t watch football on tv don’t even read about it in newspapers etc. After playing he became a referee, believe it or not and I heard he was at a decent standard too.
Bernie, a saddlers legend imo.
From the Liverpool Echo…
A large part of Bellefield’s appeal came from the characters who populated it.
And there were few more colourful than Bernie Wright.
Signed from Walsall in 1972, Bernie the Bolt, as he was affectionately known, was central to one of the most scandalously entertaining incidents to take place at the training ground.
It was witnessed first hand by one of the youth team players of the era – a well known personality himself who prefers to relate the tale anonymously.
“It was just before Christmas and all the first team players received a hamper from John Moores,” he explained. “Bernie came intro training one morning still worse for wear from the night before and spotted a hamper box which was left over.
“He knocked the top off one of the whisky bottles and started to drink from it – except he’d broken the neck of the bottle and there was jagged glass everywhere.
“Westy (Gordon West) was the only player big enough to have a word with him but the only way he could get him to stop drinking from the bottle was to pour what was left of the whisky into a milk bottle.
“By now the coaching staff had heard of the commotion and came down to investigate, but when Stewart Imlach tried to tear a strip of Bernie, Bernie smacked him!
“The lads had been winding Bernie up about why he was down to train with the reserves when he should have been with the first team and he decided to take matters into his own hands and go and have it out with Harry Catterick.
“He charged up the stairs to seek out Catterick, but the boss had been tipped off by trainer Tommy Egglestone about what was going on and he locked his office door and headed down the spiral staircase!
“While Bernie was pounding on his office door The Catt was making himself scarce in his car.
“Bernie eventually walked out of the training ground, thumbed a lift on the back of a passing coal lorry and headed off down Queen’s Drive still swigging from the milk bottle full of whisky!”
Colin Harvey recalled a lighter moment involving the big striker.
“Bernie was a great lad,” he smiled. “He often got himself into some kinds of bother, but he mucked in with the lads and enjoyed a laugh.
“He shouldn’t have done some of the things that he carried out back then, but he was a naive young lad and I think if he had his time again, maybe he would have been a bit different, especially so early on in his Everton career.
“A lot of people said that Bernie didn’t have any skill but one day Bernie was shouting his mouth off about how good he was, so Alan Whittle challenged him to a skills test.
“The challenge was that Bernie had to run two-and-a-half lengths of the pitch with the ball in the air, juggling it so that it didn’t touch the ground.
“He had three chances to complete the task – which if you think about having to turn round with the ball after you’d completed one length, wasn’t as straightforward as it sounds.
“Bernie did it, second go! It went down really well with the lads because a few players thought he would be able to do it and had fivers riding on him, which was a lot of money in those days.
“All the lads were on the bank of the training pitch clapping and roaring. I’ve never seen Alan so quiet, though!”
Me and my mate gave him a lift back from Shrewsbury once,he wanted to get back home quicker than the team coach.Nice bloke,had a real thick Black Country accent.As someone else said,he scored a cracker with his head against Newcastle in the FA Cup.
Some memories there Belphegor, I had just started going to games then as a young lad, Bernie Wright makes Cook look like a choirboy!! What a character but totally committed to giving his all, Bobby Shinton another who was local and played with his heart on his sleeve, I think he also lived in a semi on Park Hill on the Woods Estate Wednesbury, close to where other local lads came from that became WFC players like Brian Caswell, Alan Birch who both played for Mesty Croft junior school who’s headmaster was Ron Jukes who unearthed these lads when he scouted for the club, some good memories of local lads who had pride and passion for their club, so different to today’s offering😩
I played a number of times against Alan and Paul Birch in The West Brom school leagues.
They beat us in a final one year, where Paul was playing against kids 2-3 years older than him . He was the best player on the pitch by a country mile.
I also played against Caswell and I think it was Alan Birch in junior school football when they played for Mesty Croft, who always had a good team obviously due to the headmaster Ron Jukes, they were always the team to beat along with Tameside another local school in Wednesbury who were also difficult to beat.
A Chesterfield fan (bit of a boring voice), did an Alan Birch tribute a few years ago and I’ve found it on youtube. As you’d expect its mainly about his times with them but there’s a bit of Fellows Park footage at 1.52 from their 4-3 defeat in 1980-81 when perennial pain in the aris Ernie Moss got a hat-trick but still finished on the losing side. You see Ron Green dropping the ball for a goal (nothing new there Liam!), Tony Macken making Andy Cook look like twiggy, Kitty Lyons behind the goal…oh and the annoying little specky kid waving at the camera, wearing a snorkel parker and two Walsall scarves, trying to put their corner taker off…(sigh) yes that’s me
I was too young - and not a Saddlers fan - at the time but, looking back, I am pretty sure George Andrews taught me and my Tipton schoolfriends at the Coca-Cola football academies that used to take place in Victoria Park in the early to mid 1980s. Can anyone confirm it was George?