ALBION players will wear black armbands on Sunday in tribute to Richard Eades, a much-loved Club stalwart, who died just hours before the Boxing Day game against Everton.
The gesture is one of a series of salutes the Club is organising in gratitude for Richard’s devoted contributions in nearly 30 years' association with his beloved Albion.
Richard passed away at the age of 42, shortly before he was due to set off for The Hawthorns and perform his regular duties as the man inside the costume of Baggie Bird’s sidekick, Albi.
It was one of many roles he undertook during a lifelong devotion to the Club and news of his passing left all his friends and admirers at The Hawthorns shocked and deeply saddened.
In recognition of his contribution to the Club, Richard will be our Fans' Champion for the Arsenal game when we will be joined by his fiancee Carly and their two children Lily-Mae, 8, and Archie, 3, along with his co-conspirator in mascot duties, Dave Challoner. This will take place around 15 minutes before kick-off and supporters wishing to witness this tribute are advised to be inside The Hawthorns in good time.
The Club have also prepared a film tribute of the man himself in action which will be shown shortly before kick-off.
Albion’s Chief Executive Officer Martin Goodman said: “It has been a sombre few days for everyone who knew Richard and we wished to pay tribute to a man who was much-loved at the stadium and in return totally devoted to the Club.
“Most importantly, we want to show our support for Carly, Lily-Mae and Archie and provide any comfort we can. We know the wider Baggies family look after their own in such difficult times and I’m sure that will be the case on Sunday.”
Albion have also noted the fans' campaign to pay their own tribute to Richard with an ovation on 42 minutes of the Arsenal game and are happy to facilitate this with big-screen messaging.
Club chairman John Williams added: ”News of Richard’s death was a tremendous shock to us all and everyone at the Club offers their deepest condolences to his family and friends.”