1978 Ultimate Goal

Mon, 17 Dec 2018

Over two nights in December, the culmination of two-year journey was brought thrillingly and movingly to life in the Academy Theatre when Year 10 performing arts group delivered their show "1978: The Ultimate Goal."

It was a story researched, created and then brilliantly performed by the pupils which drew acclaim from some exalted company.

The show followed a challenge from West Bromwich Albion to delve into the story of the Club's iconic "Three Degrees" team some 40 years previously. Brendon Batson and the late Cyrille Regis and Laurie Cunningham were the three black footballers who, in facing and conquering the racism and bigotry of those days, nudged Britain along the path to a greater understanding of the racism which threatened to divide the nation.

That the show went on just days after widely-publicised incidents of racist abuse at Premier League football stadia had been reported added even greater pertinence to the story.

Over the two nights, Albion's Head Coach Darren Moore, Batson himself - who actually joined the cast on stage for a memorable cameo in the final scene - and members of all three families witnessed a truly outstanding and unique production which rightly received rapturous applause.

Drawing on vintage newsreel and the soundtrack of the era as a backdrop, the cast delivered a show that did not dodge the difficult conversations of the subject matter but filled the audience with joy in its message of hope and positivity.

It was everything and more of what the Club hoped the project could deliver, a show which will have legacy when the Albion Foundation use elements of the production as learning tools throughout its community programmes in schools across our region. The message will go on.

To the driving director of the piece, Anna Dickenson, all the magnificent cast, technical crew and musicians go our thanks for the inspiring re-telling of an important story.

As Brendon himself told the audience at the finale: "I'm sure you will understand I have mixed emotions having experienced this - but on behalf of Cyrille, Laurie and myself, you have honoured us with your performance. Thank you so much."

Photos from West Bromwich Albion

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