Plans unveiled for statue of West Bromwich Albion legends
Published on 1st August 2012
Plans to immortalise iconic West Bromwich Albion stars Laurie Cunningham, Brendon Batson MBE and Cyrille Regis MBE have been announced.
A 10ft bronze statue will be erected in West Bromwich town centre to celebrate the achievements of the trio who pioneered the way for black footballers in this country.
The statue, called 'The Celebration,' will be unveiled on July 15 2014 - the 25th anniversary of Laurie Cunningham's death in a car crash in Spain.
Renowned sculptor Graham Ibbeson, who has created world famous statues including those of Eric Morecambe, William Webb-Ellis and Don Revie, will make the statue which will show the three players celebrating after a winning goal.
The initiative is being led by Black Country businessman Jim Cadman with the help of Sandwell Council.
Money for the statue will be raised via a number of projects and events during the next two years including 'The 1979 Club' - an exclusive club for 500 Baggies and other football supporters to join and be involved with the project.
Other planned activities include the publication of a tribute magazine detailing the achievements of the three players which will be published in October to coincide with Black History Month.
Other events will be announced in the coming weeks and months.
Here are some words from the people involved in the project:
- Brendon Batson: "I am truly humbled and proud to be associated with this project and acknowledge that it is a huge commitment from all associated with this initiative. More importantly it would be a fitting tribute to Laurie Cunningham who was such an outstanding footballer."
- Cyrille Regis: "I would like to thank Jim Cadman for having the vision and energy to propose this project. I am extremely humbled. This project is not about Brendan, Laurie and me, but it represents the journey and progression made by black footballers and the acceptance and encouragement shown by Albion fans and supporters everywhere."
- Jim Cadman: "The statue will be a tribute to Cyrille Regis, Brendon Batson and Laurie Cunningham who, as professional footballers, suffered continual personal abuse on the pitch and aggressive racism from the crowds at games in the late 1970's and early 1980's but overcame it to motivate themselves to become role models for future generations of young black footballers. Our strategy for the 10 foot bronze statue will be to involve the local community in Sandwell, Baggies fans throughout the country and football fans all over world in celebrating the cultural and social breakthrough in our national game that was made by these three players."
- Leader of Sandwell Council, and lifelong West Bromwich Albion Fan Councillor Darren Cooper: "This is fantastic news for everyone who lives in Sandwell. These players had such an enormous impact on the game of football and Sandwell Council is both privileged and honoured to be involved in this project. It's also great for West Bromwich town centre which is in the middle of a major transformation programme. Wherever the statue is placed, it will give West Bromwich a focal point and major attraction which will attract people from all around the country, if not beyond."
- Sculptor Graham Ibbeson: "Since 1988 I've undertaken numerous public sculpture commissions and been fortunate to portray many of my comedy, sporting, and industrial heroes in towns and cities throughout the UK. I feel very privileged to be part of this tribute to Brendon Batson, Laurie Cunningham, and Cyrille Regis. I truly believe that this public work of art is long over due and as a sculptor I am passionate about bringing it to fruition. It will be a permanent reminder of the achievements of three extremely talented young black football players who went a long way towards breaking down the prejudicial barriers that blighted the game of football."
To learn more or to get involved, please call Jim Cadman on 07971 624627.