Arthur Wharton was the world’s first Black Professional Footballer.Arthur was born to parents who were both mixed race. His father was half Grenadian and half Scottish, and his mother was half Scottish + half Fante Royal of the stool family of Ekumfie. He was also the World Record Holder for the 100 yard dash.
Pictured here with the Prince Hassan Cup (Athletics) . Arthur was probably the first African to play professional cricket in Britain, Arthur was an all round sportsman who found acclaim in Britain. Strangely though at the time of his success Arthur’s people were once again being labelled as the lowest forms of human life.
In Victorian England the dominant ideas labelled Black people as being innately inferior to all other races. Arthur Wharton had been educated in England and he was a master of sports.In short Arthur Wharton flew in the face of these racial theories.
Perhaps this is why he is largely forgotten today. Arthur went to school in Cannock, Staffordshire. His fame came later when he was dubbed the “best goalkeeper in the north”. He played for Preston North End in the 1885-6 season. He also ran for the Birchfield Harriers and played football for Darlington all in one year. Arthur was the forerunner of all black footballers.
To learn more about him. see” The first Black Footballer – Arthur Wharton 1865-1930 An absence of Memory ” by Phil Vassili Frank Cass Books. www.frankcass.com or see.
Football Unites …Racism Divides at http://www.furd.org/
Read an extract of Phil Vasili’s book about Arthur Wharton