CYRILLE Regis’s widow says she is “deeply honoured” at the idea of a tribute service at Coventry Cathedral following this newspaper’s proposal yesterday.
As we reported this morning, the cathedral also responded to us by saying it would be “deeply honoured”, and the Bishop of Coventry, the Right Reverend Dr Christopher Cocksworth, has contacted Cyrille’s family.
Julia Regis, widow of the footballing giant and Coventry City legend told us: “We have been so moved by the love that has been shown to Cyrille and his family by Coventry fans, the club and people from the city. It has really helped us through this sorrowful time.
“Cyrille loved Coventry and we are greatly honoured by the call to hold a memorial at the city’s cathedral, which has always been a symbol of God’s love, peace and reconciliation.
“We would be very happy to explore the idea with the club and the church at a future date.”
We made the call in an Editor’s Comment on our website yesterday morning, entitled ‘Let’s Celebrate Cyrille Regis at Coventry Cathedral’, which also features in this week’s Coventry Observer newspaper. We also contacted key cathedral figures directly.
The cathedral replied yesterday evening on Twitter on its @CovCathedral account, saying: “We would be honoured, of course. Bishop Christopher is in touch with the family to see whether we can help, meanwhile prayers continue that #CyrilleRegis may rest in peace & rise in glory.”
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.”
We say Coventry people would clearly welcome something major to celebrate Cyrille in our city, should the family be willing.
He is surely one of the most iconic figures in Coventry’s history and people feel he is one of our own.
He played at Coventry for seven years during the club’s best years, the same number as for West Bromwich Albion.
He was actively involved in the Kick It Out campaign against racism in football after his career.
He was also a Christian, who would speak of his faith. Coventry fans used to sing on the Highfield Road terraces: “And now you’re gonna believe us, Cyrille’s born again!!.”
Dave Boddy, chief executive of Coventry City Football Club, told us: “We’d be delighted to play a part in organising such a fitting tribute to an iconic sporting legend, for many reasons.”
We have also contacted former Sky Blues chairman Joe Elliott, who was part of the organising committee for the Jimmy Hill memorial service, which packed out the cathedral and was broadcast live on BBC TV. He told us he would be willing to help, and would seek discussions over the possibility.
Mr Elliott added: “Legends’ Day this year (March 3 home game v Lincoln City) is being dedicated to Cyrille.
“Cyrille said the 1987 cup win was the highlight of his career. He was a wonderful man. He would come into our box (at the Ricoh Arena) and it was always a pleasure to have him with us.
“He had Coventry very much in his heart, just as I am sure his heart was also with West Bromwich Albion.”
One minute’s applause was twice held in honour of Big Cyrille at last Saturday’s home match versus Swindon Town.