STATUE FOR ARTHUR, THE FIRST BLACK PRO

The Football League Paper - - LEAGUE TWO - By San­dra Brobbey

THE WORLD’s first black pro­fes­sional foot­baller is to be hon­oured with a per­ma­nent trib­ute at the home of English foot­ball.

Arthur Whar­ton, who made his­tory by sign­ing for Rother­ham United in 1889, will be im­mor­talised at an FA cer­e­mony at St George’s Park on Oc­to­ber 16.

The un­veil­ing of a 16ft bronze sculp­ture crafted by Vivien Mal­lock, will be the cul­mi­na­tion of a cam­paign to have Whar­ton’s achieve­ments pub­licly recog­nised.

Backed by the FA, the project was in­sti­gated by Shaun Camp­bell, founder of The Arthur Whar­ton Foun­da­tion.

“I’m de­lighted that the iconic statue of Arthur and all he rep­re­sents will be seen by fu­ture gen­er­a­tions,” said Camp­bell.

The son of a mis­sion­ary, Whar­ton moved from Ghana to Eng­land at the age of 19 in 1882 and played in goal for his home-town club Dar­ling­ton be­fore rep­re­sent­ing Rother­ham United, Preston North End and Sh­effield United dur­ing his 17year foot­ball ca­reer.

The tal­ented 6ft goalie was noted for punch­ing the ball as far as the half­way line and catch­ing the ball with his legs while swing­ing on the cross­bar

He was also a nifty sprinter, set­ting the first of­fi­cial 100-yard world record with a time of ten seconds. Whar­ton was a fine crick­eter, too, and be­came the pro­fes­sional player for lo­cal York­shire club Greas­brough. In 1914 he turned down a cricket coach­ing role at Durham to work as a coal miner.

He went on to spend 20 years down the pit and died a pau­per, aged 65, in 1930.

School pupils will be able to learn about Whar­ton’s life at the na­tional foot­ball cen­tre. Ma­te­ri­als in­clude a comic, a film and an ex­hi­bi­tion sup­plied by Foot­ball Unites, Racism Di­vides.

This sum­mer, Whar­ton’s great-grand­daugh­ter Dorothy Rooney dis­cov­ered a box of photographs and doc­u­ments about his ex­tra­or­di­nary life and took them on the BBC’s An­tiques Road­show.

A sec­ond statue of Whar­ton is due to be erected at Rother­ham United’s New York Sta­dium later this year.

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