RIP Laurie: 20 years ago today
15 July 2009
It's now two decades since the tragic accident that took away one of the best players many of us have ever seen in an Albion shirt. Brought to the club in 1977 from Leyton Orient by Johnny Giles, he instantly entertained supporters with his electric pace and mesmerising ability to take players on as he streamed down the wing. The following year, Ron Atkinson added Brendon Batson and together with Cyrille Regis the three players formed the legendary "Three Degrees" - the first time any English team had ever fielded three black players. Off the pitch he was one of the most quiet and modest people you could meet and was always happy to chat with fans. Sadly his departure to Spain heralded the end of a great era for Albion, and within a few years many other legends had moved on and the club was in the decline that has only recently begun to be turned around.
BBC Sport: From Brisbane Road to the Bernabeu
Leyton Orient Official Site: Laurie Cunningham - A Tribute
The most gifted player I've seen play for Albion. And one of the most gifted players I've ever seen.
- Dave Neale
I would have to agree, I think my biggest memory/memories of him during the tail end of the 78-79 season when he scored a couple of goals, against I think Chelsea & QPR, although I could be wrong? Basically he wasn't on the best of form, but in a couple moments of brilliance scored the goals to secure us 2 wins? The games, from memory were awful, but I remember coming away from the ground thinking that was the defininition of class & every team needs players like that to succeed.
Best memories - from his first home game for us. Against Ipswich: he had the ball on the left, in our half. He had tormented their midfield and came up to three of them in a line. They seemed to be "sledging" him. He stopped, teased them with the ball then he shook their hands and took the ball past them. It was like watching the cartoon series "The Harlem Globetrotters" on a football pitch. He was certainly going to prove to be better than George Best.
A few months before he left he curled in a goal from the edge of the box and it was referred to as a fluke, so two weeks later he did exactly the same thing from the same position (against Derby then Manure? I think it is mentioned on one of the dvds).
I also remember he got kicked all over the place. How good would he have been on a modern surface with less contact?
- Mark Townsend
I remember seeing him score a great goal at St. James' Park before being stretchered off after being hacked down later in the game.
- Adam Cotton
My first memory of Laurie C is playing for Leyton Orient against us in the mid 70s. He was magic on the left wing (must've been in our promotion season I think). He was so good that, after making a rare mistake, the bloke next to me (standing of course) said "that'll knock a hundred grand off your transfer fee". We agreed that he would then be "only" worth ?900,000- at the time that would have been easily a world record i believe (for a 2nd Div player). Albion fans were applauding him.
And a few months later we bought him - amazingly because it was obvious he was going on to bigger things & we expected a Manu or Liverpool to get him... those were the days!
- Robin Martin
Best memory was against Man City at home. I was standing in the Brummie Road end, we kicked off after they had scored, attacking the Smethwick end and Cunningham shouted for the ball. He headed straight for the City goal, went past about 3/4 players and shot from just outside the area, beating a startled looking Corrigan. It flew inches wide of the post. Pure class.
Debut V Ipswich 1977, they had stuffed us 7-0 in the corresponding game that season, he ran the show, liteally laid on a hat-trick for Robson and I was so excited that we had found the greatest player in the world, I couldn't sleep for two nights running - I was 14 at the time and can remember it as if it were yesterday.
And the other.. a superb run v Leeds, a great pull back from the line and cross for Regis to score... Majestic, plus Man Utd 5-3,and so many more...
I was just too young to see 'the King' in his pomp, so Laurie will always be my Albion legend.
- Mark Hitcox
I remember watching Laurie take a corner at the Smethwick / Halfords end. He bent an in swinger with the outside of his right foot - unbelievable. I saw most of his home games and was fortunate to be at Old Trafford for the famous 5 -3 win. I was so proud to be a baggie that day. You were the greatest Laurie RIP.
- John Woodward
01 July 2009: Newcastle game live on BBC!
30 June 2009: No, it's officially Di Matteo!
30 June 2009: It won't be Irvine... or will it?
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