A few weeks ago I was scrolling through my Facebook news feed when an event popped up - ‘Arthur Wright memorabilia exhibition’. As a history graduate this immediately drew my attention, and I decided to spend a bit of time researching Arthur and his career as a footballer.
I then messaged the organiser of the event, Billy Wright - Arthur’s son - about coming down to see the exhibit, and it occurred to me that I should probably document the event on video so that more people could learn more about the former Sunderland left-half’s achievements in the game. I asked Billy if I could interview him and take some clips of his father’s memorabilia, and he welcomed the opportunity with open arms.
Included in the exhibit were Arthur’s England school boy caps, gifts from the club - including a tea set and cigarette box, gifts from fans upon retirement, bundles of photographs, a scrapbook of Sunderland’s pre-season tour of Turkey in 1950 and plenty of match day programmes - of which Billy has 180 from games that his father played in.
Just a bit about Arthur
Wright gained 3 caps for England schoolboys at the age of 14 and was snapped up by Sunderland in 1934. He was allowed to continue his development with Hylton Colliery Juniors before making his reserve team debut aged just 16 in 1936, and then made his first team debut aged just 18 on 16 April 1938 at home against Leeds United. Arthur then went on to play approximately 280 first team games despite the interruption of WWII.
During the war he was stationed in Northern Ireland, but managed to keep playing football as he "guested" for Linfield with whom he won an Irish Cup winners medal.
His style of play for Sunderland gained him many admirer's and he played a representative game for the Football League in 1948 before being chosen to gain his full England cap, however a family illness forced him to withdraw, and his chance never came again.
He played on until 1955 with Sunderland and as a result never experienced a relegation in his career.
Arthur remained with the club on the backroom staff until 1969 - meaning he gave Sunderland 35 years service in total.
In 1973 Arthur was invited by the club to be a special guest for our 1-0 cup final victory over Leeds United.
Thanks to Billy Wright for agreeing to take part.
If you’d like to learn more about Arthur Wright, visit www.arthurwright.org.uk.