Josh Wright on playing alongside Mark Wright after joining brother at Crawley

For reality TV star turned radio personality Mark Wright, the only way was Crawley when he decided on one final crack at making it as a professional footballer.

And it was very much a route brother Josh was keen to follow when the ex-Leyton Orient midfielder was seeking a fresh start himself.

Having been a professional for over a decade, including spells with three Championship clubs, Josh says he was “fortunate” to have a number of offers on the table.

But when presented a chance to team up with his brother this month, it was a no-brainer that he simply couldn’t turn down.

“There just came an opportunity that maybe I felt for one reason or another that it was time was to move on,” Josh told Mirror Football .

Josh Wright (L) has joined brother Mark (R) at League Two side Crawley Town

“The Crawley offer came on quite late really, later than the others. But once the gaffer John Yems had called me and spoken to me, plus all the other bits and bobs that needed doing, there was only one place I wanted to go to.

“Everything seemed to fit, along with the obvious with my brother being there. That wasn’t the only reason but that’s another added bonus.”

The two siblings have already realised a long-standing ambition of playing on the same side, having both came on as substitutes in the FA Cup third round win over Leeds earlier this month.

“To link up with my brother, play with him and feature on the same pitch is a fantastic honour and a proud moment not just for me and him but also the family,” Josh said.

While Josh, 31, is used to the daily rigours of professional football – having previously played for Scunthorpe, Millwall and Gillingham among others – Mark, 34, has still been juggling his other full-time career as a presenter for Heart radio.

Mark made his professional debut in the FA Cup win over Leeds this month
Mark made his professional debut in the FA Cup win over Leeds this month

Having been released by Tottenham as a youngster, followed by stints in non-league, Mark gave up on football to embark on a career in television.

It was only his involvement in Soccer Aid two years ago that stoked the fire in his belly to pursue his dream again, something Josh feels has been a long time coming.

“Mark is a trier, he’s a grafter. As soon as he put his mind to doing this again, I’ve said many times he certainly should have done it when he was younger coming through, he should have turned professional and he’d have comfortably had a career in the game. There are a lot of people out there who would give you that same opinion.

“He loves football, he enjoys it every single day, like a kid in the playground or the garden. He’s more than comfortable and if you never knew any different you’d think he’s been a footballer for 10 plus years at a professional level.

“I think he’s only just getting started and it’ll be great to see his story unfold.”

Football changing rooms can often be an unforgiving place, and naturally returning to the game after his high-profile role on hit TV show The Only Way Is Essex, Mark would probably have expected his fair share of stick from his new teammates.

But Josh feels he has already completed the smooth transition from personality to player, and is treated no different by his new teammates.

“He’s been there so many months now I’m sure he’s just looked at as a Crawley Town player.

“His name’s Mark Wright, of course he does what he does and has done what he’s done over the last so many years, he’s looked at as a celebrity but at the same time when he walks into that building and is in and around the lads, he’s got his kit on, he’s got a contract and I’m sure he’s looked at as the same.

“They give him a bit of stick and a bit of banter about this and that just like anyone else about their own life or appearance, what they’re wearing that day or if they trip over a ball, stuff that brings out a laugh in the group.

“The banter flows like it does anywhere and long may that continue.”

Josh has previously played for several Championship clubs
Josh has previously played for several Championship clubs

Despite achieving phase one of their journey to play for the same team, both brothers are under no illusions they will walk straight into Crawley’s starting XI.

The League Two club are on a 10-game unbeaten run and chasing down a play-off place.

First up though is the chance to book their spot in an FA Cup fifth round tie away at Burnley, providing they can cause another upset against Bournemouth.

After knocking out Premier League Leeds, it will take another big effort to progress – not least after Crawley’s preparations have been hampered by a coronavirus outbreak at the club this past week, which has allowed them just one training session together.

As a result, around 5-6 players are also due to miss the Bournemouth clash, which will be their first fixture since eliminating Leeds over a fortnight ago.

Both brothers are in contention to feature against Bournemouth on Tuesday
Both brothers are in contention to feature against Bournemouth on Tuesday

But Josh feels the unexpected break can prove to be an advantage in Tuesday’s tie, before Crawley get back to the “bread and butter” of league football.

“The FA Cup is fantastic to be part of, if we can stay in that and go as far as we can in that, who knows.

“People probably thought going into that game [vs Leeds] there’s only going to be one outcome but the one thing I noticed in my first couple of days of being here was the gaffer was strong and so were the players as in, ‘this isn’t just a free run, we’re going into this game to win it and we’re going to take it to Leeds’.

“If we can do it against Leeds I think that proves we can do it against most, or anyone, and of course we’re going to go to Bournemouth, albeit with a few missing, it’s still a level playing field, us vs them, start with 11v11 at 0-0, we believe in ourselves and believe we’ve got every chance of going there and getting a result.”

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