Former striker and all-round top bloke Mark Bright was born on June 6 1962. He is 51.
He played for Port Vale, Leicester, Crystal Palace, Sheffield Wednesday, Millwall and Charlton Athletic.
He now does various TV radio and print media work. He is also an ambassador for ProstateCanceruk.org/
More importantly; he also pays the bar tab.
First Car: It was an AUSTIN 1100. I was an apprentice Hydraulics engineer working in a local factory near Burslem in the Potteries. My nickname was ‘Huggy’ the character from Starsky and Hutch (Yes I wore a cap like the main man). One of the guys was selling it for £200 so I bought it. Soon after I was out driving with a few mates but I couldn’t get it out of second gear – when I tried again a bit harder the gear stick came out in my hands! We all crapped ourselves but survived.
Best ground: Has to be Wembley, both old and new. And just to remind people I scored the first goal at the new stadium in the first official match there when I played for a Geoff Thomas XI in a charity match. Graeme Le Saux gets the needle as no one ever mentions he set it up…
Worst Ground: I’d have to say Wimbledon’s Plough Lane. It was just awful more like a chicken shack or pig sty. Apart from the rubbish facilities they still tried to make it worse with all the
intimidation – they even hosed down the dressing rooms just before you arrived.
First Record bought/Last downloaded: It was called Footsie, not sure who it was by (for the record it was tba Willow, a 1974 Wigan Casino floor filler). It was a big Northern Soul hit in the Seventies. The Torch was a massive Northern Soul club in Stoke but I never got there cos I was always playing football. Most recently I downloaded Wretch 22.
Best goal: Has to be Maradona’s dribble against England when the ball stuck to his feet like chewing gum. In England – so many memorable ones but the volley’s of Paolo di Canio and Tony Yeboah stick in the mind.
Best bit of memorabilia: I still have the original white label pressing of the FA Cup final song we made in 1990, ‘Glad All Over’. It is signed by all the players. A real treasure and of course its now the Palace anthem.
Best goal scored: Gary Linker had left Leicester for Everton in the summer and when the fixtures came out it was a swift return for him to Filbert Street. All the focus was on Links but I scored a beauty in the first half when I chipped Neville Southall which no one ever did. My old pal Inchy (Adrian Heath), who was on the bench, told me later that Everton manager Howard Kendall asked “Who the hell was that who’d just scored?”. When he said “Mark Bright” Kendall replied: “Mark Who?!? He’ll never do that again in his life”. In the second half I did it again with another beauty. Just saying Links!
Best team: I guess it has to be the Liverpool team that beat us early on in the 1989-90 season 9-0 – and it could have been more. We had just been promoted, it was the fifth game. They were the Manchester United of the time – Barnes, Beardsley, Hansen, Rush, Aldridge. They passed us to death. Who would have thought then that would be the last time they would lift the title…?
Team Supported as a boy: Port Vale. I was brought up in the Burslem (one of the six towns that form Stoke-on-Trent) and I could see the Port Vale ground, Vale Park, from our estate. Back then we were always out mainly playing football around the streets and recs (recreation ground). All I ever dreamed of was playing there just once. After playing non league for Leek Town, Vale manage John McGrath gave me that dream. I had one year to prove myself as a pro. I did well with Port Vale and moved on to Leicester.
Best Manager: Steve Coppell. He comes across as quiet and genial but had a very tough streak. He made me a much better player. He made me go away and read things about the game and so think about the game much more.
Wright or Zaha..?: As it stands Wrighty cos he’s been there and done it. But I’ve been on record as saying Zaha can be like Ronaldo. I do some coaching at Palace and I saw him come through the ranks and now he’s at Man Utd he has the chance to become a great player.
Best Friend in the Game: Robbie Earle, the former Wimbledon midfielder. We grew up in the same area and played together at Port Vale. I introduced him to his wife and I’ve made sure they have stayed together. Robbie is now in the US working as a TV pundit.
Best world player: Maradona
Best British player: George Fryer. George Who? Let me tell you when I was a kid in the Seventies George was the local hero. He was grown up, a giant of a guy with big square shoulders. On Saturday he’d play in goal for Kidsgrove Athletic FC then centre forward for the Minors Estate Galley FC. I would carry his gloves for him. Sometimes when playing in goal he would puff on a fag, He was a legend in our area. To us he was King George!
What moment would I like to save to DVD ?
Geoff Thomas heading the winner in the FA Cup semi final when we beat Liverpool 4-3 at Villa Park. We had been given no chance especially as they had beaten us 9-0 earlier in the season. But we did them. We had a game plan and we stuck to it. I scored the first. It was so tense so dramatic goals going in at both ends, then Geoff scored towards the end of extra time. I can’t describe the utter elation.
Then the nerves as we hung on to the final whistle. I exploded with excitement and ran to the fans. The fantasy had been fulfilled! Back in the day playing in the FA Cup final was the dream beyond dreams. For us it was bigger than anything. Even playing for England. When we played street football one of the kids was revered cos he had actually gone to see a final at Wembley. Now I was there.
Andy Gray ran up to me and shouted: “Brighty, were going to Wembley!”. We just hugged each other. How I’d love to freeze frame that moment.
We lost to Man Utd after a replay but I’m still very proud I played in an FA Cup final after all those years of day dreaming about it on the streets of Stoke.
Follow Mark on Twitter @Mark_Bright
Brighty is also an ambassador for prostatecanceruk.org/