TALKS are under way to stage a memorial service for Cyrille Regis at Coventry Cathedral following this newspaper’s call for one, we can reveal.
The cathedral, Cyrille’s family and Coventry City Football Club have all been in contact since our Editor’s Comment last Wednesday, entitled, ‘Let’s Celebrate Cyrille Regis at Coventry Cathedral.’
We have learned from our contact with the Bishop of Coventry, the Right Reverend Dr Christopher Cocksworth, that the parties agreed to resume discussions about arrangements after yesterday’s private funeral service and public celebration at West Bromwich Albion’s Hawthorns stadium.
It is anticipated the service will be of national interest.
We reported last week that all three parties had responded to us by stating they were in favour of the idea.
Both the cathedral and Cyrille’s widow Julia Regis said they would be “deeply honoured”.
Julia Regis told us last week: “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.”
Our Editor’s Comment last week reads: “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 last week: “We’d be delighted to play a part in organising such a fitting tribute to an iconic sporting legend, for many reasons.”
One minute’s applause was twice held in honour of Big Cyrille at last month’s home match versus Swindon Town.
“There’s only one Cyrille Regis” was sang during the Sky Blues’ cup victory at MK Dons on Saturday, watched by nearly 8,000 fans of Coventry City, a sell-out allocation.
Legends’ Day at the Ricoh Arena on March 3 for the home game with Lincoln City is being planned to honour Cyrille, whose sadly passed away on January 14, aged 59.