The monkey chants, the bananas and Cyrille Regis’s unending courage

Sideline Cut: The late footballer’s importance far transcends mere goals and caps

The Hawthorns: Cyrille Regis at the West Bromwich Albion ground in 1984. Photograph: David Cannon/Allsport/Getty

The Hawthorns: Cyrille Regis at the West Bromwich Albion ground in 1984. Photograph: David Cannon/Allsport/Getty

Them was rotten days, all right, and many of the younger fans who stand in applause in remembrance of Cyrille Regis across England’s football grounds this weekend will probably have little idea of just how bad it was.

Regis’s sudden death this week, at the age of 59, switched the spotlight on to those days in English soccer that seem more vivid and lunatic the further they recede in time. In a terrific radio interview with the Birmingham channel Unity FM Regis pointed out that over two decades as a professional footballer he had experienced racist abuse from fellow professionals just twice. But from the stands and terraces came a torrent of hyperhatred week in and week out.

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