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Trio central to ‘The Celebration’

ALL SMILES: Cyrille Regis today (centre) with statue organisers

THE FIRST scale model of a statue honouring three pioneering footballers was unveiled recently.

Plans to create a ten-foot high bronze sculpture of West Bromwich Albion legends the late Laurie Cunningham, Brendon Batson, MBE and Cyrille Regis, MBE were announced in the summer.

The sculpture, called ‘The Celebration’ which will have pride of place in the heart of West Bromwich, will celebrate the achievements of the iconic trio who paved the way for black footballers in this country.

FAMOUS

Renowned sculptor Graham Ibbeson, who created the world famous statue of comedian Eric Morecambe, was joined by Cyrille Regis, the leader of Sandwell Council Councillor Darren Cooper and Black Country businessman Jim Cadman, who is leading the initiative.

The sculpture is to be inaugurated in July 2014, on the 25th anniversary of Laurie Cunningham’s tragic early death in a car crash in Madrid, Spain.

Funds for the statue, said to be costing around £200,000, will be raised through a number of schemes including the 1979 Club – an exclusive club for 500 Baggies fans who have opted to be involved in the project.


BLACK MAGIC: Cunningham, Regis and Batson (right)

Regis said: “This wonderful maquette by Graham Ibbeson brings the Celebration statue a step closer to reality and I would like to thank Jim Cadman for having the vision and energy to propose this project. I’ve been extremely humbled by the support shown for the statue and what it represents.

“For me it represents the journey and progression made by black footballers and the acceptance and encouragement shown by Albion fans everywhere.”

The three players were called ‘the Three Degrees’ after the US soul trio, by manager Ron Atkinson ran the gauntlet of ugly racist crowds that blighted English football in the 1970s.

But their faultless behaviour on and off the field and indomitable union led them to become role models for future generations of black players.

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