Three iconic football players, Laurie Cunningham, Cyrille Regis and Brendon Batson, have been honoured with the erection of a statue at the heart of West Bromwich.
The three players were Black Country sporting legends, known together as the Three Degrees, and the statue depicts the trio as they celebrate a goal being scored. The statue also represents the pioneering influence the three players had on black athletes throughout the UK.
During the 1970s the trio endured racist prejudice and taunts from fans at football grounds across the country but rather than hiding away or giving up the game they loved, they responded to the racism with style and grace, creating a lasting legacy for subsequent generations of black footballers.
They were trailblazers of their time, a time when racist abuse was rife in football grounds everywhere. And the statue symbolises their resilience and the everlasting impression they left on the game, as they continue to inspire players today.
Unveiled last month at New Square Shopping Centre, the bronze statue stands 10ft in height. It was created by well-known sculptor Graham Ibbeson and Brendon Batson OBE, the only surviving member of the Three Degrees, was at the unveiling event.
Scores of fans and family members were also in attendance to pay homage to the three infamous WBA and England players, although it was day of mixed emotions, as sadly, both Laurie Cunningham and Cyrille Regis have now both passed away.
Cyrille Regis died in January 2018 from a heart attack, and his recent death is still fresh in the hearts and minds of his family, friends and fans.
Laurie Cunningham died in a car crash in 1989 at the age of 33. He made his England debut against wales in 1979 and won a total of six caps.
Earlier this year, Transport for West Midlands named a tram after Cyrille to honour his legacy, and Sandwell Council named one of its new gritting trucks ‘Ice One, Cyrille’ in tribute to the late West Bromwich Albion forward.
During the winter the truck would have been seen treating the routes around The Hawthorns in West Bromwich. And now the West Bromwich statue will immortalise all three iconic football players forever at the heart of the Black Country.