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Against Modern Football


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Let Arthur Wharton come back from the dead
To see the man in black blow the final whistle.
Let the game of two halves be beautiful,
Not years ahead. Let every kissing of the badge,
Every cultured pass, every lad and lass,
Every uttered thought, every chant and rant,
Every strip and stripe – be free of it.

Then football would have truly played a blinder,
And Arthur returned to something kinder.
Let the man in black call time on racism.
And Arthur will sing out on the wings,
Our presiding spirit – the first black blade.
Imagine having everything to play for.
This is our pitch. Now hear us roar.

Anti-racism poem by Jackie Kay - read out prior to the Sheffield United v Portsmouth league 1 game at Bramall Lane on 29th Oxctober 2012. (to the memory of Arthur Wharton)

To the memory of Arthur Wharton

Last week we wrote about Arthur Wharton, the World’s first black professional footballer. As an addendum to that we’ve got a photo (shown above with the kind permission of @TonyCSGreenall) of the commemorative headstone which was placed on his hitherto unmarked grave in Edlington Cemetery, Doncaster in 1997. The headstone, funded by the Football Unites, Racism Divides campaign helps ensure that his achievements and legacy will remain visible for many years to come.

Arthur Wharton - Footballing Royalty

Arthur Wharton the first professional black footballerOn Tuesday 29th March England will play Ghana at Wembley in the first meeting between the two countries. The game will  honour the memory and achievements of Arthur Wharton, the World’s first black professional footballer.

Wharton was born 1865 in Jamestown, Gold Coast, current day Ghana. His father was a Methodist priest from Grenada and his mother was a member of the Fante royal house. In 1882 he left for England to train as a missionary and it was whilst at college in Darlington that his talent for sports shone through. He soon gave up his studies to become a full-time athlete.

He was a very talented individual indeed, in 1886 he became the first man to run the 100 yards dash in ten seconds and in 1887 set the fastest time for cycling between Preston and Blackburn. But it was in football that he was to make his name. 

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