Former Sunderland star Tommy dies at 83

Tommy Wright
Tommy Wright
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THE son of a footballing legend who helped make history on Wearside today paid tribute to the “talented and modest player” after his death at the age of 83.

Tommy Wright played in the famous post-war Sunderland team which came within two points of winning the league championship.

Tommy Wright, son of former Sunderland AFC star, also called Tommy.

Tommy Wright, son of former Sunderland AFC star, also called Tommy.

Known at the time as the “Bank of England” club because of its lavish spending in the transfer market, SAFC eventually lost out to Portsmouth in claiming top spot in the 1949-50 season, eventually finishing third.

However, the feat has not been matched since.

The Scottish international, who played in the same side as “The Clown Prince of Football” Len Shackleton, went on to feature prominently in four other successful campaigns in the old Division One.

During his six years on Wearside, he scored 51 goals in 170 league appearances, despite missing a large part of the 1951-52 season with a serious injury.

His departure to East Fife in 1955 saw another popular player, Charlie “Cannonball” Fleming, move the other way.

Today, his son, also called Tommy, paid tribute to his father, who died in Sunderland.

The assistant manager at League Two club Chesterfield FC said: “He never spoke much about his time as a player. He was always pretty modest about it all.

“But I had a lot of photographs of him taken during his playing days and people used to tell me what a talent he was.”

The 45-year-old ex-winger, who also played for teams including Leicester, Leeds and Middlesbrough, said his dad was always supportive of his career.

“He’d come and watch me when I was playing and he’d take me to matches at Roker Park,” said Tommy. “He always loved the game.”

Tommy senior, who was born in the Scottish town of Clackmannan and also spent time at Partick Thistle, Oldham Athletic and North Shields, recently made it into the top 100 player list in Sunderland fanzine A Love Supreme, which described him as an “exciting right-winger with a keen eye for goal”.

Editor Martyn McFadden said: “He’s a little before my time, but I’ve asked my grandad about him and he was an excellent right winger and managed more than 50 goals in his six years at Roker Park, which is an amazing return for someone playing out wide.

“We could have done with him this season as our midfielders have struggled to find the net far too often.”

Dad-of-six Tommy died on May 5. His funeral service was held at Dunfermline Crematorium on May 13.