STATUE FOR ARTHUR, THE FIRST BLACK PRO
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.