ALBION have teamed up with Sandwell Academy to bring the story of the 'Three Degrees' to the stage - and to a new generation of youngsters.
The Club challenged the Academy's acclaimed performing arts students to research, write and ultimately stage a show which would give today's youngsters the chance to tell the story through their eyes of those turbulent times 40 years ago.
Rehearsals are now in full swing and the show, which is titled '1978: The Ultimate Goal', and it will be staged at Sandwell Academy on December 12 and 13.
It promises to be memorable and emotional performances. The Academy have 300 tickets for sale on December 12 and the Club have 275 tickets available for the December 13 showing, both on a first come basis, priced at just £5. You can purchase them now for the Wednesday performance from Sandwell Academy Reception and for the Thursday from the East Stand ticket office or by calling 0121 227 2227.
Albion are founding sponsors of Sandwell Academy, which is situated next to The Hawthorns, and had been discussing plans for this unique project for more than a year before the passing of Cyrille Regis in January added extra poignancy to the idea.
Now the Baggies are hoping the story of Albion and the iconic trio of Cyrille, Brendon Batson and Laurie Cunningham, told through the eyes of today's youngsters with the final script by Lesley Lingard-Lane, can inspire a new generation and renew its anti-racist and barrier-breaking message of tolerance to 2018.
"The idea was to introduce the story of that time to a new generation who may not be aware of that Albion team's significance," explained Director of Communications Martin Swain.
"There is a legacy element to the idea in that the Albion Foundation will develop a learning tool from the show which will be delivered to schools throughout the region.
"We hope the story and its message will be taken to primary school-age children around the region in order they too learn of these iconic and historic events which centred around The Hawthorns 40 years ago.
"As several books and films already out there have reminded us, the Club was at the centre of epic change in the country woven around a thrilling football team.
"This is the chance for the children of today to look back and give their own interpretation of what they discover. It will be fascinating and entertaining to see how they view those times, events and characters."
Sandwell Head Teacher Ian Williams said: "The project has been a fantastic opportunity for our students.
"Far from simply writing a play, they have immersed themselves in the history of the 'Three Degrees' and the social issues of the 1970s.
"In doing so, they themselves have been on an important journey and the script they have produced is the culmination of their experiences. We are grateful to the Club for making this possible."
The youngsters' research took them to the stadium to witness the emotional scenes on the day of Cyrille's memorial fixture, as well as a tour of The Hawthorns while also meeting and discussing the events of that time with Brendon.
And at a recent rehearsal they received a special visit from Julia Regis, who was mightily impressed and visibly moved.
She said: "The students have captured and really got a hold of the story - speaking and listening to them and hearing them talk about how it had impacted them really blew me away.
"History is important and 40 years ago might seem like a long time but in the context of those guys' experiences it's not that far away.
"So it's important that generations to come understand the struggle, understand what some people went through to be able to pave the way and enjoy some of the liberties they do now.
Hayley James, Head of Engagement at the Albion Foundation, said: "After the performance, the Foundation will aim to keep the legacy living on by creating learning resources for both schools and communities to use.
"The idea is to equip the next generation with the ability to break down barriers, something the football club has prided itself on."
The December show will also mark the 40th anniversary of that Albion team's landmark performance in a 5-3 victory at Manchester United.
The Academy have 300 tickets for sale on December 12 and the Club have 275 tickets available for the December 13 showing, both on a first come basis, priced at just £5. You can purchase them now for the Wednesday performance from Sandwell Academy Reception and for the Thursday from the East Stand ticket office or by calling 0121 227 2227.