FULL details of the Cyrille Regis celebration service which this newspaper campaigned for – featuring his family, former teammates and music – have been announced.
A total of 700 free tickets are being made available to the public.
The event on Sunday, March 4 at 4pm – expected to be of national interest – will feature speeches by the Archbishop of York; Cyrille’s teammate from the 1987 FA Cup-winning Coventry City side Greg Downs; music from a Specials and Coventry great, Neville Staple – and much more.
It is being called ‘A Service to Celebrate the Life and Legacy of Cyrille Regis MBE.’
The cathedral has announced: “Admittance to the service is by ticket only. Those wishing to attend will be able to secure their free tickets online at eticketing.co.uk/CCFC or at the Coventry City Ticket Office at the Butts Park Arena (Mon-Fri, 10:30am – 4:30pm. Tuesday’s 10:30am – 4pm).
“700 free tickets will be available to the public for the celebration of Cyrille’s life. A £1 postage fee will apply to tickets, unless collection is chosen – with tickets available to collect from the Coventry City Ticket Office at the Butts Park Arena.
“The service will be led by the Dean of Coventry and include tributes from some of Cyrille’s football team-mates, including (his former West Bromich Albion teammate and fellow ‘pioneering’ black footballer) Brendon Batson and Greg Downs. It will also include contributions from the Archbishop of York, the Lord Mayor of Coventry, the Bishop of Coventry and Cyrille’s family.
“Those providing the music for the service will include the Boy Choristers of the Cathedral Choir, Mark Beswick, Sandra Godley and Neville Staple.”
Councillor Tony Skipper, the Lord Mayor of Coventry, said: “Cyrille Regis gave so much to football in this country and was an inspiration to many – this is Coventry’s chance to say thank you. It will be wonderful to gather together his family, friends, former colleagues and supporters to celebrate his life and achievements.”
The Right Reverend Dr Christopher Cocksworth, Bishop of Coventry, added: “It is a great honour for the Cathedral to be able to mark Cyrille’s contribution to football in Coventry, the West Midlands and nationally, and to be able to celebrate the way he managed not only to influence so many individual lives but also helped to re-shape our culture’s attitude to race on and off the field.”
Cyrille Regis’s passing aged 59 on January 14 prompted an outpouring of love, respect and gratitude locally and nationally. His private funeral, and a memorial service at West Bromwich Albion, took place on January 30.
On January 24, our Editor’s Comment called for a celebration of Cyrille at the cathedral. The cathedral and Cyrille’s widow Julia both responded by saying they would be “greatly honoured”, and talks began.
Our editorial stated:
THERE could be no more suitable place for the city of Coventry to celebrate the life of Cyrille Regis than the cathedral, should his family agree.
Coventry Cathedral, Sir Basil Spence’s glorious post-war symbol of unity and renewal, peace and reconciliation, embodies what Cyrille stood for and symbolised.
Big Cyrille campaigned to kick racism out of football and is widely respected as a pioneer for other black footballers and people. He handled racism hurled at him with quiet but determined dignity.
As with Jimmy Hill, whose memorial service was held at the cathedral, former England centre-forward Cyrille was seemingly universally admired citywide and nationwide, and not just for being one of English football’s all-time greats. A memorial service takes place at West Bromwich Albion on Tuesday.
His story went into every Coventry home as an iconic member of the black and white 1987 Sky Blues FA cup winning side.
1987 remains indelibly etched in the city’s popular consciousness. Its significance in the city’s 1000-year story is passed through generations.
And as a Belgrade Theatre play ‘We Love You City’ once had it, that wonderful cup-winning side represented racial unity following tensions amid Coventry’s post-industrial decline.