Arthur Wharton: The World's First Black First Professional Footballer.
(The following excerpt is taken from the Football Unites Racism Divides website. For more knowledge on Arthur and information on the important work of Football Unites Racism Divides, please visit furd.org)
- Arthur Wharton was the world's first Black professional footballer. Despite his sporting prowess, he was never fully accepted and died a forgotten man.
Arthur Wharton was born in Jamestown, Accra, Gold Coast (now Ghana) in 1865. Coming to England to study in about 1882, Wharton soon made a name for himself in athletics. Winning the Amateur Athletics Association 100 yards sprint in a world record time of 10 seconds (the first world record), he retained his title in 1887. A supreme all-round athlete, his other sports were cricket, cycling and football.
While playing for Darlington as a goalkeeper Wharton was spotted by Preston North End in 1885 - 86. He joined them the following season during which they reached the semi-finals of the FA Cup.
By 1889, he had turned professional, playing for Rotherham Town, Sheffield United, Stalybridge Celtic and Ashton North End. He finished his footballing career in 1902 playing for Stockport County in Football League Division Two.
His last match was against Newton Heath (now known as Manchester United) in February 1902. An unorthodox and entertaining performer, he had a phenomenal punch as a keeper and, with his sprinting background, sometimes played on the wing.
For 67 years he lay buried in an unmarked grave in Edlington Cemetery. Football Unites-Racism Divides raised the money to fund the writing of Wharton's biography. Enough money was raised to place a gravestone on Arthur's plot - he is now visible once more.
Wharton's story can now be read in detail in his biography, 'The First Black Footballer: Arthur Wharton 1865-1930' by Phil Vasili, published by Frank Cass. The ISBN for the paperback edition is 978-0714644592 and for the hardback edition is 978-0714649030. It can also be borrowed from the FURD library.