This season we have been reflecting on 10 Years at Oteley Road - to celebrate this we will be bringing you an exclusive interview with a player from the last decade. Today it is Mark Wright!
Every team wants a player that can score goals from midfield and Mark Wright was Shrewsbury’s answer to that during his three year stint at the Meadow.
In total he scored 26 goals in 121 appearances, topping the Town scoring charts in the 2010/11 season with 14.
That productive spell with the club started on the 16th July 2010 when Mark signed on-loan from Bristol Rovers and he remembers it being an easy decision to join.
“When I arrived it was all about getting promotion”, Wright told Town Talk.
“I wanted to start playing regularly again because I hadn’t been playing that much at Bristol Rovers and it was about trying to get Shrewsbury up the league.
“I already knew a bit about Shrewsbury because I’d nearly signed before under Gary Peters. When I’d been let go from Walsall I met with him and he showed me round, but then I ended up at MK Dons, so, I already knew what the facilities were like and that helped me make up my mind.
“Graham Turner had also tried to get me before at Hereford as well, so it all just fell into place. He said that Shrewsbury was a good club and told me that I would be one of the main players. He wanted me to bring some goals and he knew that I’d won promotions before.
“I think it helped me that I was back living near home as well, because I wasn’t enjoying my time in Bristol and I was missing home. My Mrs was from Telford as well, so it all fell into place.”
Wright made an instant impression in blue and amber scoring 10 goals in the opening four months of the season including a hat-trick against Graham Turner’s former club Hereford, an occasion Wright remembers well.
“I think in that game I should have had four”, Mark admitted.
“My first goal went onto be voted goal of the season and anytime I ever seen anyone from Shrewsbury they always mention that goal, but I actually prefer my goal away at Crewe because that was a good one as well.”
Mark then signed a two and a half year deal with the club in January 2011 and he was pleased to feel wanted after a difficult time at Bristol Rovers.
“It was about Christmas time that I signed permanently and it just seemed the obvious decision”, Wright said.
“I was on fire at the time and everything felt right. I couldn’t wait to sign because I was back home, which was a big thing and I was playing well, so it just made sense. It wasn’t going that well at Bristol either and I was getting some stick, so it’s always to come somewhere you are wanted.”
Despite signing permanently, Town didn’t manage to win promotion that season, with Wycombe’s ‘Ghost Goal’ coming back to haunt the club as they finished one point behind the Chairboys and ultimately missed out in the Play-Offs to Torquay. However, Wright still had confidence that he could achieve his initial aim of getting promoted and felt that the following season would provide an even better chance.
“It was disappointing because we knew that we had the quality”, said Mark.
“We had a great home record but it’s about trying to pick up some more points away from home and we just struggled to put the two together.
“We then brought in some new players that summer and we had a good squad. We weren’t playing long ball, we had some good footballers there and I think that helped me a lot because that suited my style.
“I played in a few promotion teams and you can always tell that there’s a chance because it’s in the changing room and if you’ve got a good team spirit then you’ve got a good chance.”
That season wasn’t just a special one because of the events in the League. The League Cup would also bring about some special nights for the club, culminating in a trip to Mark’s favourite club, Arsenal.
“We had a few good times”, remembers Wrighty.
“We played at Derby and we played against Swansea as well, so we had a few good games that season.
“Going to the Emirates was unbelievable. I hit the post, which I shanked, and if that had gone in we would have been two-nil up, against my favourite team as well.”
Town managed to gain promotion with a 1-0 win against Dagenham and Redbridge in the penultimate game of the 2011/12 season. That meant Town finished as runners-up in League Two and it confirmed Wright’s third promotion of his career.
“That was a great day”, remembers the former Walsall man.
“When you retire you look back on days like that with really good memories. I’ve actually been involved in a few promotions and they are all really great occasions.
“I’ve also been involved in relegations as well, so I’ve had a bit of everything in my career, but you always look back at the promotions.”
Town were now in League One and despite losing key players like Ian Sharps, Shane Cansdell-Sherriff, Nicky Wroe and James Collins, Mark was confident that Town could make the step up.
“I think we still had quality and when you get promotion you have confidence that you can do well at the next level, so I don’t think I was worried about moving into League One at the time”, Wright said.
“I’d played most of my career in League One and there’s not that much difference. You get a bit more quality, but that’s about it. You just get punished a bit more each level that you go up, but it was good to stay up.”
With safety confirmed, Wright was released by Shrewsbury at the end of the 2012/13 season and it ended up bringing to an end his career in the football league. He was disappointed by how his time at the club came to an end, but enjoyed his three years at the Meadow.
“It didn’t help that I got injured that season and then I came back too soon”, said Mark.
“I was coming to the end of my contract and I wanted to get back playing as soon as I could, but it was the wrong decision in the end.
“I moved on at the end of the season and that was the end for me in professional football. I tried to get a club but politics got involved and I couldn’t get a club because of some things that I’d been labelled as.
“I was 32 then. I went into Non-League for a little bit because my friend Karl Hawley asked me to go to Stourbridge for a bit, but I didn’t enjoy it really because I’d been out of the game for too long.
“When you keep trying to get a club and people are telling you that they’ve been told you’ve got a bad attitude you decide that it’s not worth it in the end.
“But, it was an enjoyable three years. I had great times at Shrewsbury. Whenever I bump into fans they always remember me well and remember me scoring goals, which is good.”