Search

Fundraising campaign for Cunningham statue in Leyton begins

PUBLISHED: 16:00 08 March 2016

Laurie Cunningham faces the camera when part of Leyton Orient's squad (S&G and Barratts/EMPICS Sport).

Laurie Cunningham faces the camera when part of Leyton Orient's squad (S&G and Barratts/EMPICS Sport).

S&G and Barratts/EMPICS Sport

Leyton Orient and Kick It Out team up to back Waltham Forest Council’s plans to raise awareness of Laurie Cunningham’s story

Residents, businesses and football fans from around the world are being called upon to be part of Laurie Cunningham’s legacy by raising money to build a statue in Leyton to celebrate his achievements.

The fundraising campaign was officially launched yesterday (Monday) and the former Real Madrid star would have celebrated his 60th birthday today.

With support from Leyton Orient and football’s equality and inclusion organisation Kick It Out, Waltham Forest Council is spearheading the campaign to raise awareness and funds to remember Cunningham - one of the first professional black footballers to play for England.

He started his career in Waltham Forest with Orient and to celebrate his legacy in opening up the game of football to people of all backgrounds, Waltham Forest Council will erect a statue in his honour in Coronation Gardens near the stadium where he first made his mark on the beautiful game.

Starting out with the O’s in 1974, Cunningham played at a time when racism was prevalent, but his success with teams such as West Bromwich Albion and Real Madrid paved the way for other black athletes across the country.

He also earned six caps for England and, along with winning the double with Real Madrid, helped Wimbledon to victory over Liverpool in the 1988 FA Cup Final.

Tragically, Cunningham was killed in a car accident in Madrid in 1989 at the age of just 33.

Chris Robbins, Leader of Waltham Forest Council, has committed to pay half the costs towards the statue.

He said: “Laurie made a huge impact on the footballing world at a time when racism was rife in the game. He holds a special place in the heart of Orient fans and local residents alike.

“We want a permanent tribute to the man and his achievements, which will also act as a celebration of how well people from all different backgrounds get along in this borough.”

Roisin Wood, Kick It Out’s Director, added: “Laurie was a ground-breaking footballer. The disgraceful discrimination he, and others, faced was a stain on football in the 1970s and 1980s.

“But it’s important to recognise his impact and the inspiration he would have given to young people watching the game at that time.

“Kick It Out is fully behind a statue for someone who made such an impression on the game and it will drive awareness about his story for young people growing up in the local area.”

Orient’s chief executive Alessandro Angelieri said: “The club are delighted that Waltham Forest Council, in association with Kick It Out, will celebrate the legacy of Laurie with a bronze statue in Coronation Gardens.

“His success with the club, and throughout his career in times where racism was commonplace in football, is an example to many and it is a fitting tribute to have someone of his stature remembered in this way so close to where his career began.”

As well as raising funds for the new Leyton landmark, the year-long campaign will promote his important legacy of inclusion and diversity through community events.

The statue is set to cost just over £100,000 and together with its partners the Council is looking to raise up to £50,000. If you would like to make a donation, visit www.walthamforest.gov.uk/laurieslegacy.

Anyone who donates over £20 will have their name printed in the special edition of Waltham Forest News that ties in with the unveiling of the statue.

Latest East London Sports News

19 minutes ago

An image of Ben Stokes just after he hit the winning runs in the third Specsavers Test between England and Australia at Headingley has won the Wisden–MCC Photograph of the Year competition for 2019.

19 minutes ago

Former England, Tottenham and West Ham striker Jimmy Greaves is currently receiving treatment in hospital.

Yesterday, 17:21

Royal Ascot will take place behind closed doors this season, if it goes ahead as planned in June.

Yesterday, 16:00

How well do you know east London football or are you just a quiz master, why not put your knowledge to the test.

Yesterday, 15:13

Football Association chairman Greg Clarke says everyone involved in the game must “step up and share the pain” as talks between players and clubs over wage deferrals and cuts continue.

Yesterday, 14:00

Leyton Orient head coach Ross Embleton has revealed he is always looking at the youth team to hand them first-team opportunities, writes Jacob Ranson.

Yesterday, 11:39

The remainder of the London Youth Games 2020 season has been cancelled due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

PROMOTED CONTENT

Festival organisers AEG Presents will once again be providing a variety of exciting opportunities for young people at this year’s event

Looking to rent in London? Securing the keys to a new home in any big city can be an ordeal but there is a way to avoid the common pitfalls of London rentals - dodgy landlords, dubious décor and downright dicey security.

Cauldron Foods’ comedy night will give vegans the last laugh as Vegan comics dispel vegan myths.

Most read sport

Digital Edition

cover

Enjoy the
Docklands and East London Advertiser
e-edition today

Subscribe

Education and Training

cover

Read the
Education and Training
e-edition today

Read Now

Most Read

Latest from the East London Advertiser