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Ozzy's star man
By Sarah Loat
Ozzy Osbourne was the inspiration for Birmingham's Walk of Stars and the man behind that is Garry Raybould, who has kept a promise to Ozzy to personally clean the stars.
It's Friday afternoon on Broad Street and Garry Raybould has clocked off work. He's kneeling on the floor with tins of metal polish and cleaning sprays.
He's crouched over the star of Ozzy Osbourne which has neat mini orange cones around it (he is a health and safety co-ordinator) and is drawing some curious glances from passers-by.
Garry is furiously polishing his "baby", and in fact Garry Raybould is the reason that Ozzy Osbourne is celebrated on Birmingham's Walk of Stars.
A huge Ozzy and Black Sabbath fan, Garry originally set about trying to get Birmingham's own Prince of Darkness the freedom of the city. "I took the idea to the Lord Mayor - he thought it was a great idea, but unfortunately you have to have a blue plaque and it has to be voted for by lots of other dignitaries - it's very complicated."
Still wanting to have somewhere to honour people from Birmingham, Garry began plotting a new idea. If blue plaques were out of the question, then he'd have to find another way of permanently honouring the city's stars.
"I thought, well why don't we do something like Hollywood has and have stars down Broad Street? We got an online petition going and Ozzy and rock fans everywhere signed up. Ozzy was doing the Download festival - we set up four tents at the concert and everybody signed. We didn't see much of the concerts, the response was incredible!"
Walk of Stars takes shape
Garry spent a year formulating a plan for Birmingham's Walk of Stars, even taking cardboard stars out to lay along Broad Street to see how much interest he could generate.
The public seemed keen, but Garry's next challenge was to get Ozzy on board and agree to come back to Birmingham to accept his star.
"At the time I had a football team," says Garry "the Boars Head Football Team, based in Kingstanding. We played Black Sabbath and Ozzy songs in the dressing room, but we used to get beaten really badly every week, ten - nil or worse.
"When I took the team over I started playing a song called Never Say Die by Black Sabbath - we needed a never say die attitude with our team - and we started winning and we survived relegation, in a Sunday league kind of fashion."
Ozzy Powered FC
Before long, the struggling Sunday League pub team were destroying the competition:
Ozzy Powered FC
"People were shocked that we started winning I figured that playing the Black Sabbath songs had made us Ozzy powered - and I thought 'what a name!' - let's call ourselves Ozzy Powered FC. Let's ring up Ozzy and tell him we're gonna dedicate a football team to him."
At the time Ozzy was recovering at his Buckinghamshire home after a serious quad bike accident. Ozzy Powered FC sent their good wishes to Ozzy, and were amazed when Ozzy started to show an interest in the Brummie pub team.
"Ozzy's people rang us and asked if it was true, if there was really an Ozzy Powered football team. That year we won the cup with 'Free Ozzy' on the back of our shirts - it was nuts! Suddenly we went from this rubbishy football team to cup winners. It was wonderful. We sent pictures to Ozzy and we got a response back asking if we'd like to meet him in Aylesbury."
Ozzy and Sharon designed logo
Prince of darkness designs pub team kit
Ozzy Osbourne agreed to sponsor the team and he enlisted the help of wife Sharon to design a new football kit for Ozzy Powered FC.
"The logo is his - him and Sharon's. We sent it back and forth over six months telling Ozzy 'we can't have bats and devils and stuff'. It was nuts. Insane. This rock god is trying to design a kit for us. They finally sent one back which was a nice white kit with Ozzy's logos and he drew this little caricature of himself kicking a ball."
The team's results are sent to Ozzy every week and two years ago Ozzy even had the results hand delivered after the Raybould family took a trip to America.
"We rented a truck and decided to drive up to his house. I took all the Birmingham Evening Mails with our results in, carried in an Asda bag. I get out in the middle of Beverley Hills with my Asda bag and ring the doorbell at the gate.
"I'm Garry from Birmingham"
"This voice says 'stay away from the gate, who are you?' 'I'm Garry from Birmingham - the Ozzy Powered Football team. I've brought some papers over from England for Ozzy to read.' There was a massive pause, I thought I was going to be arrested, and then all of a sudden the gates went back and this massive guy came out and said 'Come with me'."
Garry presents Ozzy with his own shirt
"The house was being painted pink by a London decorating company and they said "oh we've seen your stuff, he's (Ozzy) got a picture of your team in the kitchen here'. It was mad - so surreal."
The team bagged two more cups, and Aston's favourite rock god son agreed to return home to receive the very first star on Birmingham's Walk of Stars.
"Getting Ozzy to come back to Birmingham was massive, he's such a big star. He's moved away but his family still live here and he remembers a lot about the city. I thought this would mean more to him coming from his home town than some LA walk of stars."
Ozzy in Birmingham
"Here we're celebrating true heroes of this city. The Archers were over the moon - that was wonderful to see their smiles. Nobody gets anything out of it, there's no money, it's just an honour. It's a celebration of the city.
And Garry's favourite celebrity star? "It's gotta be Ozzy. They're all good in their own right, but to me to have Ozzy as the first one and then see others come along is a real honour for me too."
Ozzy and his star
Being part of the Birmingham Walk of Stars team, Garry is privy to the next lot of Birmingham heroes to be awarded their own star. He's keeping tight-lipped for now, but promises they're very exciting. As for Garry, he has no doubt who he'd like to see receive a star:
"I'd like to see see Eleanor Simmons have a star - the paralympic Gold medal winner from Aldridge, that would be fantastic. She's a hero. We've got rock gods, comedians, sport stars - but that’s a hero - she's fantastic. I think the sporting world would love it. Hopefully Ellie would too, and what a great honour - she deserves it."
Swimming sensation Ellie Simmonds
Garry for Mayor!
Endlessly proud of Birmingham, Garry takes real pride as he rolls up his sleeves, knuckles down and bring the stars back to their gleaming best;
"I want people to see it - I love this city to bits. Birmingham to me is great. I've got so many great ideas for it. I wanna be Lord Mayor!" grins Garry. "This place is really great and we don't appreciate it enough. If I can do my bit and help out I will. I clean the stars - it means a hell of a lot to me personally and I don’t really care if people walk over them afterwards - I'll come back two weeks after and I'll clean them again."
It's not just pride in the city that spurs Garry on, he also made a promise to Ozzy that he'd take care of his star,. Garry also promised himself the reward of a quiet pint when all the stars are clean.
Garry gets to work on Ozzy's star
Sitting canalside in Brindley place, perfectly positioned to oversee Ozzy's star, Garry sups a well deserved pint and watches the reaction of passers-by;
"The response is brilliant. People say 'Ooh look there's Ozzy's star', or 'Here's Jasper's star', 'Oh I didn't know these were here'. Some people don’t know they are here. But when I start cleaning them people stop and watch; 'Ooh that’s nice where are the other ones?'"
A promise to Ozzy
"I kept to a promise to Ozzy, when he was here I went backstage and said 'Look man I'm gonna keep it clean'. He said 'You ain't are ya?'. I said 'I am, I bloody will. I'm gonna keep it clean'.
"I started cleaning Ozzy's star and then thought I may as well do the rest. Can't do one with out the others. But then again when we get to ten or twenty stars to clean I might have to employ someone!"
last updated: 29/10/2008 at 11:34