‘Only One Cyrille Regis’ event honours the legacy of the pioneering footballer

05 Mar 2019 / News

Football Unites Racism Divides in partnership with Stand up to Racism Sheffield organised the `Only One Cyrille Regis`event at the U-Mix Centre on 24th February 2019 to remember and celebrate the legacy of the pioneering footballer.

His very close friend and a former team mate from West Bromwich Albion Brendon Batson, daughter Michelle Regis, Lord Mayor Magid Magid, friends and fans travelled from different parts of the country to attend this event.

Everyone payed a fitting tribute to the legend by sharing some of their favourite memories about Cyrille, who was well known for his positive contributions to the game of football and initiatives in tackling racism in football.

The event was compered by Leon Mann, Co-founder of the Football Black List. He said, "I love FURD. There's a real sense of community here. Watching the news you'd think we all hated each other, but then you come here and realise that's not true!"

Sheffield United manager Chris Wilder and West Bromwich Albion manager Darren Moore both sent video messages of support.

Former Rotherham United player Richard Finney and Darren Moore talked about their memories of playing against Cyrille, and the impact he had on them.

Chris Wilder commented that, "the work that FURD does is very important...this is a game for everyone and no-one should be excluded".

Phil Turner and Brian Richardson from Stand Up to Racism talked about the worrying rise in racism in both football and wider society.

Lord Mayor of Sheffield, Magid Magid, said, "As a black Muslim immigrant I feel I should use my influence to stand up to racism and hatred".

Chris Green, talked about how he got to know Cyrille well through co-writing Cyrille's autobiography 'My Story'.

Steve Kay, Sarah Choonara and Phil Vasili gave informative talks about aspects of BME football history. Phil recalled taking his mixed race younger brother to matches in their youth. "Every time Cyrille Regis scored, it was one in the face for the racists who made monkey noises when my kid brother was there", he said.

Brendon Batson played alongside Cyrille at West Brom. "Everything he did was really calm until he got onto the pitch", he said. They and their families remained close friends after retirement. "His family are like my family", he said and became emotional in describing how much he misses him.

"Some people you see 100 yards away and you start to smile. Cyrille was one of those people" he said. "He had a big smile and a big presence. All of us loved him as a team mate. He transformed himself after his career. He was not just a great player but a great man as well".

Michelle Regis commented on how she was still learning about her father after his death last year, and about how he meant so much to so many people.

The day also featured 5-a-side football tournaments for under-18s, women and over-40s.

The event also saw the opening of a new exhibition about Cyrille Regis and one about Walter Tull produced by Folkestone Museum.

Walter Tull was not only one of the first back professional footballers, but also the first black British army officer to lead white British troops into battle. He was killed in action in the First World War in 1918.

These two exhibitions will be on display in the corridors of the U-Mix Centre until the end of March and the public is welcome to come and see them. After this they will be available to hire.