A NEW play about one of football’s most famous black players is coming to Sussex.

Getting The Third Degree starts touring in October and tells the amazing story of former West Bromwich Albion player Laurie Cunningham.

The show will come to the Hawth Theatre, Crawley, on October 30 before appearing at the Marlborough Theatre, Brighton on November 16.

Laurie came to prominence in the late Seventies playing for West Brom, and was the first of the black footballing trio known as The Three Degrees. The others were Brendon Batson and Cyrille Regis.

Laurie was the first black footballer to become a millionaire, the first player of colour to sign for Spanish footballing giants Real Madrid and only the second to win a full cap for England.

The winger inspired a generation of young black footballers and is seen as a pioneer of the game.

Laurie’s life came to an abrupt end in 1989 when he was killed in a car crash in Madrid. He was just 33 years old.

However his legacy was such that he is still regarded as one of the most influential footballers of the modern era.

The show explores how the group triumphed over the racial abuse and physical threats they were often subjected to during their playing careers.

The performance, which is being put together by Kick It Out, the organisation that works to end racism and discrimination in football, will feature Seventies funk, soul, blues, jazz/jive dance, football chants, contemporary commentary and social and political speeches.

With the resurgence of racial abuse at football matches and in wider society in the UK, Dougie Blaxland, who wrote the play, believes “the issues that the play raises are every bit as relevant today as they were 40 years ago”.

Laurie Cunningham’s niece, Rhodene Cunningham said: “We are delighted that Kick It Out has commissioned this new stage play about Laurie’ s life.

“He was a very special man loved by us all and we hope that his pioneering story will be an inspiration to everyone who comes to see the production.”

Roisin Wood, Kick It Out’s chief executive, said: “In an organisation committed to changing deeply embedded attitudes you cannot simply repeat the same message in the same way year after year.

“The commissioning of this play is an attempt to engage new audiences in our ongoing mission to combat racism in football.

“The more fans and followers of football we can encourage to see this exciting production the greater its impact will be.”

Tickets for the show cost £10 and can be bought through the websites of the respective venues.