Dunfermline Athletic

Alex Wright 1970-72

Alex Wright became manager of Dunfermline Athletic just as the club was about to suffer a terrible financial crisis that very nearly brought it to its knees. In what was one of the most difficult periods of the club's history, Wright was almost powerless to intervene as the Pars went into freefall and it is no reflection on him that he lasted only sixteen months in the job.

As a player, Alex Wright spent fourteen seasons with Partick Thistle after signing straight from school in 1948, becoming an integral part of their forward line, usually at inside-left, before moving to half-back later in his career.During the 1950's, he played in three League Cup Finals but sadly for Thistle all three ended in defeat. His only representative honour was an appearance for Glasgow in a 5-1 win over Sheffield at Parkhead.

After coaching the reserve teams of East Fife, Clyde and Partick Thistle, Wright was given his first managerial role by a struggling St. Mirren in October 1966. The club was relegated that season for the first time in over thirty years but under Wright they bounced straight back as Second Division champions.

Although he wasn't greatly experienced, his work at Love Street had established his credentials and following the sacking of George Farm, the directors at Dunfermline appointed him as the new manager in preference to 38 other candidates, taking over on 22nd October 1970.

With acrimony in the dressing room, it took a while for Wright and his coach, Willie McLean, to make their influence felt and it took until 19th December for the Pars to record their first win of the season, 4-1 over Airdrie at East End Park. Relegation was avoided by the skin of their teeth with only a superior goal difference, in use for the first time, ensuring that St. Mirren, ironically enough, accompanied Cowdenbeath to the Second Division.

The summer of 1971 saw the club engulfed in financial problems and, with the fate of Third Lanark still fresh in the memory, a public appeal was launched in order to avert a similar outcome. In these austere times, the manager had to turn to youth and, as he handed debuts to Jim Leishman, Jim Paterson and Graham Shaw, others, such as Kenny Thomson, Jim Scott and Bonar Mercer, became first team regulars.

Unfortunately, there was to be no improvement and, staring relegation in the face, the Board decided to relieve Wright of his duties in February 1972. Only three league victories had been recorded to that point but the final straw had been a gutless Scottish Cup defeat at Second Division Raith Rovers.

He is perhaps best remembered at East End as part of the Dunfermline team that, along with John Cushley and Jim Fraser, won the hugely popular television show Quizball in 1971, defeating Leicester City in the final thanks to a Cushley hat-trick.

Alex Wright subsequently became manager of Dumbarton, guiding them to a Scottish Cup semi-final appearance in 1975/76, and spent eighteen years with the club in various roles before scouting work for clubs such as Bolton and Leeds brought his career to a close. On 12th January 2000 he died suddenly at his home in Linwood, aged 69.



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