Made of the Wright stuff for Raith Rovers’ Hall of Fame

Keith Wright scores in a 5-0 win over Ayr United in April 1984.
Keith Wright scores in a 5-0 win over Ayr United in April 1984.

The goalscoring exploits of former Raith Rovers star Keith Wright have secured the hitman a place in the club’s Hall of Fame.

With two spells at the club in different decades, Wright will be inducted at the sell-out event at the Adam Smith Theatre on Monday, November 12.

Playing in the Fife derby between Raith Rovers and Dunfermline in  February 1986 which ended 3-3.

Playing in the Fife derby between Raith Rovers and Dunfermline in February 1986 which ended 3-3.

The Edinburgh-born striker signed for the club in 1983 aged 17 from Melbourne Thistle, having previously played for Edina Hibs as an ‘S’ Form signing at Easter Road.

He said: “When I was at Thistle there was a Raith Rovers scout called Arthur Bellamy who watched me and took me over for a few trials with the Rovers and thankfully Gordon Wallace gave me a contract when I was 17.”

Wright says that moving from a boy’s club to a professional side was an eye-opener.

“I remember one of my early games. I was just out of boy’s club football and we got drawn in the League Cup against Aberdeen who had just won the European Super Cup.

In his second spell at the club, Wright played against his former team Hibs at Easter Road in a famous 2-1 Scottish Cup win for the Kirkcaldy side in January 1998.

In his second spell at the club, Wright played against his former team Hibs at Easter Road in a famous 2-1 Scottish Cup win for the Kirkcaldy side in January 1998.

“It was a Wednesday night and we got beat 9-0. Welcome to senior football! It was over two legs and we only got beat 3-0 in the second leg at Stark’s Park so at least we improved.”

Though signed as ‘one for the future’ Wright broke into the first team almost straight away and pays tribute to his team mates of the time.

“I thrived on the opportunity to try and do the best I could for the Rovers. When I first walked into the dressing room it was a complete shock compared to what I was used to.

“There was these experienced boys who soon let you know if you gave the ball away too easily. Guys like Donald Urquhart, Chris Candlish, Tom Houston – I could name them all to be honest because they were all so influential on me.

“I had to learn really quickly about various parts of my game that you would get away with at boys’ club level so it was a great introduction for me. I was so thankful to all those guys. I still am.”

Wright soon established himself as a first team regular and formed a prolific partnership with fellow striker Paul Smith.

“I’ve been lucky that right through my career I’ve had good strike partners and Smudger was very good, on and off the pitch, so that was a huge factor. We played well off each other.

“Even though it was lower league for me every game was massive.

“Playing the likes of Albion Rovers or Stranraer was huge for me and I managed to fit in and get a regular game and that was down to the players around me and the managers I played under.”

Despite playing at a time of upheaval at the club, Wright says he had a good relationship with all the men in the Stark’s Park hotseat.

“After Gordon Wallace left, Dick Campbell took over for a few games then I was really grateful to Bobby Wilson who came in.

“He could have changed things but he believed in me.

“Then after him it was Frank Connor, who was probably the biggest influence on my whole career.

“He taught me about how to look after myself and how to get up and be motivated for games.

“He took me to another level and after six months with Frank I moved to Dundee in 1986.”

After successful spells at Dens Park and with Hibs, where Wright picked up a League Cup winners medal and a Scotland cap, he returned to Rovers for the 1997/98 season, where the highlight was a 2-1 Scottish Cup win back at Easter Road.

“I’d had a good time at Hibs but it was great to beat them.

“I didn’t go over the score with the celebrations but it was brilliant to go back and win with Raith after I’d been told I wasn’t wanted there.”

Now working as an SFA Performance Coach at its school in Edinburgh, Wright says the Hall of Fame night will be a “proud one” for him and his family.

“I’m in the Hall of Fame at Dundee and Hibs so this is my hat trick!” he said, “I’m so proud to be put alongside all the great players that make up the club’s history.

“Rovers were a big part of my life so to get this is amazing. It’s where it all started for me.

“My family will be there and they’ve backed me all through my career. My 77-year-old mum has said that she’s definitely having one of the tickets!”

“It’s going to be extra special for me.”