Legacy of Arthur Wharton to be recognised before England game on Tuesday
The legacy of the world’s very first black professional footballer, Arthur Wharton, will be officially recognised before England’s friendly international with Ghana at Wembley on Tuesday evening.
West Bromwich Albion’s black football pioneers, Cyrille Regis and Brendon Batson, will join Wharton’s oldest living relative, Sheila Leeson, plus Sir Trevor Brooking in a pitchside presentation featuring a mini version of The FA’s Arthur Wharton statue at 7pm
Last year saw The FA recently donate £20,000 to the Arthur Wharton Foundation towards the building of a statue in Wharton’s adopted hometown of Darlington.
Born in the Gold Coast (now Ghana) in 1865, Wharton travelled to England in 1882 to train as a missionary but, after settling in Darlington, he abandoned his studies in favour of a career in sport.
He played in goal for Preston North End a year before their famous “invincible” season of 1888-89 and was understudy to the famous Fatty Foulke at Sheffield United.
Wharton’s sporting prowess wasn’t confined to just football – in his time at Darlington he was also a top level sprinter and set a world record by running 100 yards in ten seconds flat.
Wharton passed away in 1930 and was originally buried in an unmarked grave but the site is now recognised with a proper headstone after campaign work by Sheila Leeson, Football United Racism Divides and the Arthur Wharton Foundation.