(COMING THROUGH: Cheltenham Town’s Danny Wright in action against Newcastle United. PICTURE: Action Images)
By Chris Dunlavy
It took Danny Wright a decade to clamber out of Non-League – but the veteran striker insists he will not lack motivation on his return.
Wright, 33, spent nine straight seasons in the National Premier before winning promotion with Cheltenham in 2016.
The former Histon and Cambridge man then scored 11 goals in his maiden League Two campaign, only to be gradually frozen out last season.
Unwilling to warm the bench, he has now joined Solihull Moors and has promised the move to Damson Park will not be a case of ‘after the Lord Mayor’s show’.
“I’ve played eight or nine years in the National League and I haven’t suddenly got too big for my boots,” says Wright, who has scored 125 goals in 448 games for the likes of Wrexham, Forest Green and Gateshead.
“I’m more than happy to be here and I’ll still be doing all the dirty work. I’ll never lose the motivation to play football.
“I didn’t get into football for the fame or money. I was playing with my mates after school, then worked my way up with Dereham. I’ve had to prove myself every step of the way and a couple of seasons in the EFL doesn’t change that.
“Of course I’m disappointed at the way it ended at Cheltenham. I feel a bit unlucky in terms of opportunities once we got into the League and I’d love to have spent a couple more seasons there.
“But sitting on a bench is no good for me. You have to do what makes you happy in life and for me, that’s playing – whatever the level.”
For a while, that was almost the Premier League. During Watford’s ascent to the top flight under Aidy Boothroyd in 2005-06, Wright – then 22 and in prolific form for Dereham – was invited for a trial at Vicarage Road.
“I’d played a couple of games and Aidy said to me ‘I like you, I think you’ve got something about you and I want to offer you a deal,” says Wright, who was also working as a self-employed carpenter.
“There was just one caveat – I was struggling with my back. So Aidy said ‘Go away, get your back sorted, then we’ll sort you out in a few weeks’.
“I tried to rest up for a few days, but it was still hurting. I went for a scan and it turned out I actually had a fractured vertebrae in my spine. The doctor said I couldn’t do anything active for six months.
“That was it really. By the time I got back, Watford had been promoted to the Premier League and were looking at a completely different type of player. I’d basically been forgotten.
“To get such a freak injury at that time in my career was really unlucky, one of those ‘What if?’ moments. But I don’t have any bitterness about it. I took a different route to the EFL and it’s one I’m very proud of.”
And just as Wright rebounded from that disappointment by banging the goals in for Histon, so he hopes to fire Tim Flowers’ relegation favourites to something more than safety this season.
“Solihull showed a bit of interest in January, and I probably should have gone then,” explains Wright.
“But I just felt that I had a bit of unfinished business with Cheltenham. Fortunately, they didn’t give up on me, even with the change of management. I spoke to Tim and as soon as I heard he was keen I was delighted to sign up.
“It’s a great little club and I think their ambition is a lot higher than what other people on the outside think they’ll do. Nobody is expecting us to be top of the league, but we’ll definitely surprise a few. I’m really excited.”
*This article originally featured in The @NonLeaguePaper which is available every Sunday and Monday
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