Duane shows it is never too late to step up
DUANE Wright is proof that it is never too late to step up the non-league ladder.
A few eyebrows were raised when Ryman League Division One North side Needham Market signed the 28-year-old from Hadleigh United in the summer.
Wright had spent almost ten years plying his trade as a combative midfielder in the Ridgeons League before Danny Laws signed him as part of Needham’s summer rebuilding programme after narrowly failing to win promotion at the first attempt last season.
Wright said: “I had a call asking me to come along and play. I was really excited about the opportunity to play at a higher level, where I can hopefully get the best years out of myself.
“I didn’t want to keep playing in the Ridgeons League, and it was nice to be given the chance to push myself. The game is quicker at this level, but the quality of football is also better.”
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After six years at Whitton United, Wright joined Felixstowe & Walton United when the King George V club pulled out of the Ridgeons League around Christmas in the 2008/09 season. He spent one-and-a-half years with Felixstowe before signing for Hadleigh United, where he was made club captain, at the start of last season.
Wright, who also wore the skipper’s armband at Whitton, said: “I would rather just concentrate on playing football than be captain, but I enjoyed my time at Hadleigh, where there are a lot of nice people.”
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His appearances at the Millfield last season were disrupted by a back injury, which has since been resolved, so it was frustrating for him to miss the start of the current campaign with an ankle injury.
But Wright has since played his part in Needham’s solid, if unspectacular, start to the season so far.
He said: “I am really enjoying it. There are some great people at the club and the facilities are top-notch.
“Danny Laws is a great manager to play for. I had heard a lot about him and now I can tell he is a really good manager. The training is good, he gives you good information and he gets you up for games.”
Wright, who signed a one-year deal in the summer, added: “I am hoping to prove myself this season and earn a new contract.”