BILLY WRIGHT, C.B.E.
The accolade "one of football's all-time greats", is perhaps handed-out too frequently. However, in the case of William Ambrose Wright, it is a fitting way to describe him. A true ambassador for the game, Billy Wright was the inspiring captain of Wolves and England in the late 1940s and 50s; never once being sent-off or even cautioned, he was the model professional. The son of a Shropshire iron-founder, Billy Wright was born on 6th February 1924. He joined Wolverhampton Wanderers' ground staff straight from school and turned professional in 1941. During the war he was a guest player for Leicester City and as a corporal in the Shropshire Light Infantry he made his first appearance for England in the unofficial "Victory" match against Belgium on 19th January 1946. He played two further "Victory" matches before making his first full International appearance against Northern Ireland on 28th September 1946, in a resounding 7-2 win. A year later, after only one full season in League football, he was made captain of Wolves and the following year, at the age of 24 he became captain of England. After some 59 appearances for England at wing-half he was moved to centre-half during the 1954 World Cup in Switzerland. This move, without doubt, prolonged his International career as he settled into a position he was more comfortable with and was able to display his defensive capabilities to their best advantage. With his club Wolves, he had already captained the team to their F.A.Cup win in 1948-49 and in season 1953-54 he led the side to their first-ever League Championship. The wins that year in the floodlit matches against Honved (Hungary) and Spartak (Russia) restored much self-confidence to the English game after the dismal performance against the Hungarian International side in 1953. He was awarded the 'Footballer of the Year' in 1952 and many believe he should have won it again when Wolves later won the Championship's in 1958 and 1959. His International career spanned almost 13 years and he made his last appearance for his country in an 8-1 win against the U.S.A on 28th May 1959 at the age of 35. He became the first-ever player to make 100 appearances for a national side in April 1959, against Scotland in a match that fittingly was won by England 1-0. The last 70 of his appearances were consecutive (still a record) and all were as captain, again another record. After playing in excess of 500 games for Wolves he retired from playing in August 1959 and became manager/coach of England's youth team in October 1960. Thereafter, he became manager at Arsenal, the club which he had supported as a boy, in March 1962 and remained in this capacity until June 1966. He then ventured into television, becoming Head of Sport at A.T.V from 1966 to 1981 and then Controller of Sport for Central Independent Television from 1985 to 1989. On 3rd September 1994 Billy Wright died at the age of 70.
The following lots were awarded to