This week, we dive into 90's to remember...
Paul “Bunion” Wright
A player many Kilmarnock fans will remember fondly as the hero in our 1997 Scottish Cup winning success against Falkirk at Ibrox. Paul started his career up in Aberdeen at the time Alex Ferguson was manager and made his debut under Sir Alex in 1984. He made 67 appearances for the Dons in his five year spell scoring 16 goals. The striking options at Aberdeen led to him not getting much game time and he decided to try his luck down south.
Paul moved to Queens Park Rangers in 1989-90 season playing only one season at Loftus Road scoring 5 goals for them in 15 appearances. On 11th November a highlight of Paul’s time at QPR was scoring a brace against an incredible Liverpool team at Loftus Road in a 3-2 win. Paul decided a move back up to Scotland with Hibernian may reignite his career north of the border. Alex Miller brought him to the club. Playing 36 games that season scoring 7 league goals. Hibernian finished 9th in league that season.
St Johnstone would become Wright’s 4th club in the summer of 1991. St Johnstone paid a club record fee of £275,000 to bring him to Perth. This would be the start of Wright’s real peak in his career. He would go on to play from 1991-1995 with the Saints amassing 112 games in this period scoring 40 goals. St Johnstone would then sign Billy Dodds in 1994 for a standing club record fee of £400,000.
1995 - Kilmarnock come calling
Kilmarnock have bid accepted for Paul Wright for a club record fee of £340,000 some serious cash being thrown around in those days. Kilmarnock also received 300,000 for Shaun McSkimming from Motherwell that year. Wright’s first Killie goal came on 13/05/1995 away at his old club Hibernian in a 2-1 defeat the only goal he scored in his first season at the club. Scored his first brace in a 5-1 win over Raith Rovers at Rugby Park in November '95.
He would go on to play 148 times for the Ayrshire-men scoring 40 goals in his time at Rugby Park.
Paul would cement his name in Kilmarnock F.C. history books in May 24th 1997 in the 112th Scottish Cup Final at Ibrox. A scrambled in 20th minute winner in a 1-0 victory in front of a sell out Ibrox Stadium. A goal in which I have seen a million times on video but wasn’t aged to go at the time being nearly 4 years old.
Here he is speaking after the game talking about the goal and about Alex Totten the Falkirk manager.
“I didn’t hit the ball well. As it came to me I didn’t manage to get a good contact, but those are the ones that usually go in. It wasn’t the best goal of my career, but it was the most important and the most satisfying.” Wright embraced Totten at the end and said: “I wanted to speak to Alex, who is a friend as well as a former manager. I’ve scored more goals and played in more games for that man than anybody. I told him I was sorry for scoring the goal.”
A game many supporters I’m sure will have fond memories of going to. Seeing Falkirk getting their equaliser ruled out by the referee and Monty lifting the cup in front of 24,000 Kilmarnock fans would have been glorious.
Upon qualifying for Europe in late nineties, Wright scored a penalty away in Nice in a 3-1 to defeat. He wouldn’t be involved in the games versus Kaiserslautern, but scored twice in home leg versus Shelbourne. Another penalty after a wonder strike from Shelbourne player put them up 1-0. Wright equalised from the spot before a lovely reverse pass from Pat Nevin set him free in the box to lob the goalkeeper from close range and secure a 2-1 victory for Killie.
Paul Wright played through until 2001 before eventually being ousted from the team by a young Kris Boyd. Remembering taking Boyd through drills to improve his touch and finishing ability something in which they both shared in their careers. He would score a hat trick against St Mirren on Boxing Day 2000 which would be his swan song year at Kilmarnock.
Wright moved on in 2001 -2002 season to play with Falkirk, the team he had scored the winner against in Scottish Cup final five years previously. Winding down his career he managed only two goals in 12 starts for the Bairns before moving to Morton the following season, where he scored a similar 4 goals in only 13 apps. Wright then had a very brief spell at Larkhall Thistle but never made an appearance. Boots then firmly hung up in June 2003.
Paul moved into coaching with the Kilmarnock youth teams at various levels and worked there for a number of years, developing some of our best youths through to the first team. Wright managed BSC Glasgow under 20’s, a Scottish lowland league team, until recently joining Bonnyton Thistle with another Kilmarnock Legend, Alan Robertson, a man he knew well from his days working at youth teams with us. A well remembered face and a guy who gave his all for the jersey and scored some important goals in a relatively successful period in the late nineties for our club.
He’s blue...he’s white …