Different Class : Fashion, Football & Funk The Story of Laurie Cunningham

By Dermot Kavanagh

A biography of England's first professional black footballer, who represented Leyton Orient, West Bromwich Albion and became the first Englishman to play for Real Madrid

Tuesday, 8 December 2015


This picture was taken in June 1979 at Heathrow Airport and shows Cunningham on his way to Spain to sign for Real Madrid alonside West Brom club director John Gordon. Gordon got on well with Cunningham and visited him a number of times after he moved to Madrid. He liked champagne which had the unfortuante side effect of making his comb-over parting unravel the more he drank it. It is interesting to compare how both men are dressed. Gordon is well dressed in a dark, well cut probably bespoke woollen suit - it has slash pockets and a two button jacket- and a plain white shirt and dark tie. He looks like a typical, succesful middle-aged businessman. By contrast the twenty three year old Cunningham looks like a movie star on his way to some Riviera film festival. The soul boy look of his younger days has been replaced by European designer style. By pairing a dog-tooth country casual jacket with silk t-shirt and chinos he looks sophisticated and worldly. Carrying a suit bag instead of a travel holdall it's clear clothes are a priority, this is a man who knows how to dress, and the carefully placed sungalsses, a hard item to find in the UK at the time, peeping out of his top pocket suggest a glamorous lifestyle not readily associated with most footballers of the day. 


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