Ten years after Jeff Astle had won them the FA Cup, West Bromwich Albion hit some more peaks thanks in part to these three:

Laurie Cunningham, Brendon Batson and Cyril Regis
Pic from left to right: Laurie Cunningham, Brendon Batson and Cyril Regis

It all started when the Baggies employed a relatively unknown young manager (previously at Cambridge United) by the name of Ron Atkinson. (Yes, yes, racist Ron, etc…)

He inherited a team that included youth-team graduate Bryan Robson, as well as Messrs. Cunningham and Regis. After arriving Atkinson went back to his old club and brought in Brendan Batson and thus history was made when West Brom became the first English team to simultaneously fielded three black players.

The English press began to nickname them the Three Degrees (after the group who were big in the charts at that time) and yes they even got a photo opportunity out of it:

Three Degrees with the West Brom players

Some fantastic football was being played at West Brom and in 1978 they were challenging for the title in the 1st Division and in the UEFA Cup as well – until they were eventually knocked out in the Quarter Finals by Red Star Belgrade. In that same year they became the first British professional team to play in China. Their three-week tour, comprising four matches, was covered by the BBC TV documentary Albion in the Orient.

Many of their fans consider the highlight of the season to have been the famous 5-3 victory away at Manchester United. This was the last time, to date, that an away team scored five goals at Old Trafford. But at the end of the ’78-79 season, after some fixture congestion, it put paid to their league aspirations when they eventually finished third.

Ray King » Ray King – Oh Oh Oh Oh Oh (West Bromwich Albion)

When I searched for more info about: "Ray King" and "singer" it led me to the an early 70’s London based funk/reggae group called: Cymande (pronounced: Sah-mahn-day), so the timeframe fits.

After listening to some tracks below I am 90% sure that he is one in the same… so here are some more examples (who have been referenced and sampled in popular culture) from Cymande:


» Cymande – Bra

» Cymande – Fug

» Cymande – The Message

» Lots more Cymande here
» Tribute site to Cymande

Postscript: Thanks to Erik Hogstrom for the suggestion/request in a previous post.
As you can see I went down a different route (no pun intended.)

2 Replies to “A Baggies Musical History Pt 2”

  1. The Three Degrees were such a revelation on the football pitch that even a logistically challenged young supporter growing up in the suburbs of California heard about them and could follow their exploits.
    And I even have the faded “WEST BROMWICH ALBION THROSTLES” scarf to prove it.

  2. Yeah Ray King was in ‘Si man day’ they were really successful in the US and have had loads of tracks sampled over the years.

    Black British didn’t get them and White British wasnt into ‘Nyah Rock’

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