Mark Bright featured in one of the most iconic strike partnerships in the history of Crystal Palace and left in his wake an everlasting legacy at Selhurst Park.
He enjoyed a decorated career in England, including most notably, with Crystal Palace and Sheffield Wednesday. Bright scored 114 goals in 186 appearances for Palace, which makes him the fourth highest goal scorer in the history of the club.
During his six-year spell with Crystal Palace, Bright forged a sensational partnership with English forward Ian Wright, and the pair propelled The Eagles to the 1990 FA Cup Final and to glory in the 1991 Full Members Cup.
Bright would later go onto reach both the League Cup final and FA Cup final with Sheffield Wednesday in 2003, but his journey to prosperity was far from smooth.
After working in a factory and playing part-time at Cheshire County League’s Leek Town, Bright moved to Port Vale in 1981. Port Vale had previously released him at the age of 16, but he made his full debut on the last game of the 1981/82 season in a 2-0 win over Torquay United.
This was two weeks after he came off the bench in a goalless draw against York City on 1 May 1982. Bright would only play once during the following season, scoring the second goal in a 2-0 win over Hereford United on 9 October.
In the 1983/84 season, Bright flourished towards the end of the campaign, scoring ten goals in 31 games for Vale, but it wasn’t enough as they were relegated from the third division
However, in June 1984, Bright was sold to Leicester City for a fee of £33,333. This fee was subsequently doubled due to a top-up clause. His spell with The Foxes was rather underwhelming and he amassed just six goals in 42 league games, before being sold to Crystal Palace by manager Bryan Hamilton in 1986.
Steve Coppell was at the helm upon his arrival at the club and expectations were high for their £75,000 signing. The Eagles were pushing for promotion into the First Division, but failed to achieve their goal after agonisingly missing out on the play-offs by a mere two points.
His career at Crystal Palace burst into life during the 1987/88 season with his staggering tally of 24 goals earning him the Golden Boot in the Second Division, but once Palace failed to achieve promotion and missed out of the play-offs by the same margin as the previous campaign.
It was during his third season with the club that Crystal Palace finally reached the promised land. Bright was influential during the play-offs, scoring during their semi-final victory over Swindon Town, and The Eagles secured promotion to the top-flight by defeating Blackburn Rovers.
The leap into the top-flight is a daunting but exciting challenge for a forward and Bright fared rather well with 12 goals during his debut season in the First Division. It was also his driving run that helped Palace pull off a spectacular comeback against Liverpool in the semi-final of the FA Cup, which was made even more remarkable by the fact that they had suffered a demoralizing 9-0 defeat at the hands of the Merseyside outfit earlier in the season.
The Eagles were very unlucky to not win the whole thing after a remarkable 3-3 draw against Manchester United in the final. The replay was won 1-0 by the Red Devils sending the Eagles into heartbreak.
Palace impressed the following season showcasing his predatory instincts with seven goals in ten games in the top-flight. He would improve his goal tally the next season, scoring 17 goals to become the seventh top scorer of that season.
Bright left Palace for Sheffield Wednesday in a player exchange with fellow striker Paul Williams. Bright finished as the club’s top scorer for three consecutive seasons, scoring 48 goals between 1992 and 1996. He still remains the Owls’ top scorer in the top-flight to this date.
Bright played in the 1995 UEFA Intertoto Cup but the side finished 15th in the 1995/96 season. Bright would then fall out of the first team the following season, and was loaned out to Millwall before joining Swiss outfit FC Sion in January 1997.
Bright would leave soon after because of unpaid wages and issues with his transfer fee from Sheffield Wednesday. Bright would join Alan Curbishley’s Charlton Athletic at the end of the 1996/97 season.
Bright impressed, helping the Addicks to finish fourth in the second tier in the 1997/98 season, and played in their dramatic win over Sunderland in the play-off final, which was won 7-6 on penalties after a 4-4 draw. Bright left the Valley and retired from professional football in the 1998/99 season.
The Wright and Bright Partnership
Ian Wright arguably played his best football alongside the legendary Dutchman Dennis Bergkamp, but it’s worth mentioning just how good he was alongside Mark Bright at Crystal Palace.
Coppell paired the previously wayward Wright with the more experienced Bright, who became a mentor to his younger teammate. The results were amazing as Palace were promoted to the top flight and reached a FA Cup final. The pair also achieved an astonishing third place finish in 1991.
The pair scored 230 goals between them, ensuring that they played a key role in the most successful periods of the club’s history.
Since leaving Palace, both of them have maintained close contact to the club and who can blame them?
The fans adore the pair and they are easily remembered for being one of the most deadly duos that the top-flight have ever seen.
Career after Retirement
After retirement, Bright became a football correspondent on The Big Breakfast. He has worked with Football Focus and has commentated on some international games with the likes of Jonathan Pearce and Steve Wilson.
He has also written for Match magazine and has appeared on 5 Live Sport radio show, Fighting Talk radio show and TV show Final score.
In 2009, he returned to his beloved Palace and joined the academy set-up alongside John Salako. Wilfried Zaha was still in the academy then and he would be introduced into the first team a year later.
Zaha getting into the first team shortly after Bright joins the academy coaching team surely isn’t a coincidence as his experience as a player might have rubbed off on the young talented Zaha. The rest is history.
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