Wolverhampton singer/songwriter's tribute to Duncan Edwards

By Heather Large | Music | Published:

He was the footballer who rose from humble beginnings to become one of the greatest ever to pull on an England shirt.

Ryan will perform the song live for the first time at Sadler's Brewhouse

Now the remarkable story of Duncan Edwards, from his days growing up in Dudley through to his unforgettable moments on the pitch with Manchester United, has been captured in a new song.

Wolverhampton-based singer/songwriter Ryan Evans will release the track entitled 21 Candles on the city’s Strawberry Moon Records label on August 23.

Co-written with Ian Dowdeswell, his open and honest lyrics champion the life of the footballing hero who died at the age of 21.

Dudley-born Duncan made 177 appearances for Manchester United.

He scored 21 goals as well as winning 18 caps for England.

He was tipped for greatness before his life was cruelly cut short following the Munich air disaster.

The footballer is fondly remembered for his tireless work ethic and never giving less than 100 per cent on the football pitch.



“I was really inspired by his story and I wanted to write a song about it.

“I’ve been writing songs for 10 years and I think this is the best song I’ve ever written. It sends tingles down the spine. I can’t wait to get it out there,” says the 25-year-old musician.

The project has been a collaboration between Ryan, Ian, husband and wife team James Morris and Jade Lockley Morris, who run Wolverhampton-based Strawberry Moon Records, and Jim Cadman, chairman of the Duncan Edwards Tribute group.

They came together following the Duncan Edwards Tribute dinner held to commemorate the 60th anniversary of his death last year.


Ryan Evans and Ian Dowdeswell who have co-written 21 Candles

“I’m a Manchester United fan and Duncan has always been hugely important in Manchester. He was arguably the greatest player to play for England. Jade and I wanted to get involved in helping to keep his story alive,” says James.

Ryan said he felt compelled to pen a song about the footballer following a visit with Ian to the Duncan Edwards tribute room at the Copthorne Hotel in Brierley Hill.

“I just got really inspired by it and the lyrics come from the heart. I write songs every day of my life and I don’t think any of them has come close to this track.

“The lyrics are really important to me.

“I think if you can touch people with your lyrics then you’ve got a good song,” adds the artist, who was named best singer/songwriter at the Black Country Music Awards.

Duncan’s childhood dream of one day walking out on the hallowed turf at Wembley and his determination to make it come true also struck home with Ryan.

“I’m had the same dream of playing at Wembley since I was a kid. I’ve always worked hard and believed in myself. I know that one day I will get there and I think 21 Candles is the song that will get me there. I’m really proud of this song,” he tells Weekend.

“It gives me goosebumps. If it went to number one, I wouldn’t be saying ‘how’s that happened?’, I wouldn’t be at all surprised, it’s that good,” says James.

“It’s not a football song, it’s all about what Duncan achieved. It’s very much a song about a Black Country icon,” he adds.

Ian and Ryan at Sadler's Brewhouse

A video featuring Ryan and recreating moments of Edwards’s early life has also been made by Kingswinford-based Route 89 Video Production and was filmed at the Black Country Living Museum.

It stars young actors Taylor Simner, aged eight, as a young Duncan, and 10-year-old Lilly-May Morris.

Jim, who also published a book titled Black Country Boy to Red Devil as part of the 60th anniversary commemorations, says he is delighted with the track which was produced by Ryan Pinson at RML Studios in Wolverhampton.

“It’s so rewarding to see so many young people talking about Duncan.

“He’s the heart of the Black Country’s heritage. I think people are going to be really moved by the song and the video and find it very inspiring,” he adds.


Ahead of its official release, 21 Candles will be premiered by Ryan during his gig at Sadler’s Brewhouse in Lye on Monday, August 26.

Ryan, who released EP The Punk Poet earlier this year, is feeling excited about performing the track for the first time in front of an audience.

“It’s all very well having a great track but you need to be able to deliver it live. I can’t wait to play it live,” Ryan tells Weekend.

“The songs I have written since this one have all had the same vibe and I’ve carved a new sound.

“It’s inspired me to write even more songs and hopefully will like these and I can bring a new album out,” he adds.

But most of all he hopes the song will play a part in helping to keep Duncan’s legacy alive for future generations. “I hope it spreads the word about Duncan and I hope people enjoy the song and the story we are trying to tell,” adds Ryan.

All profits from Ryan’s gig at Sadler’s Brewhouse will go to the Duncan Edwards Tribute.

Tickets priced at £10 are now on sale from Strawberry Moon Records Store, Bridgnorth Road, Wolverhampton, Sadler’s Brewhouse and Pub, and Jim at The Duncan Edwards Tribute on 07971 624627.

Ryan’s track 21 Candles will be released by Strawberry Moon Records via all major music platforms, record stores and the Black Country Living Museum.

See for more information.

Heather Large

By Heather Large
Special projects reporter - @HeatherL_star

Senior reporter and part of the Express & Star special projects team specialising in education and human interest features.


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