Manchester

Arthur Wharton: Plaque for first black footballer

Arthur Wharton
Image caption Arthur Wharton also set a record time for cycling between Preston and Blackburn

A blue plaque has been unveiled in Greater Manchester in honour of the first black professional footballer.

Arthur Wharton's career highlights as a goalkeeper included reaching the semi finals of the FA Cup with Preston North End.

He also played for the now-defunct Stalybridge Rovers and Ashton North End.

The plaque, at Curzon Ashton FC's ground, recognises Arthur's impact on the sport in the area.

Born in the Gold Coast, now known as Ghana, in 1865, he moved to the north-east of England in 1884, aged 19.

In 1886 he became the Amateur Athletics Association national 100 yards champion and a year later he set a record time for cycling between Preston and Blackburn.

Tobacconist's shop

His footballing career started at Darlington FC, with spells at clubs including Preston North End, Sheffield United, Rotherham Town and Stockport County.

During his time in Greater Manchester, he also ran a tobacconist's shop in Old Street in Ashton-under-Lyne.

Image caption The plaque recognises Arthur Wharton's impact on the area

He retired from football in 1902 and died in 1930.

Councillor Dawson Lane, from Tameside Council, said: "Black players have been at the heart of football for many years, from people like Pele and Eusebio to current stars such as Rio Ferdinand and Mario Balotelli.

"It's amazing to think it all started with Arthur Wharton, who played in Tameside.

"Arthur was a truly historic figure within the game and I'm delighted that the council is commemorating his role with a blue plaque."

In 2003, Arthur was inducted into the English Football Hall of Fame.

In June, a statuette of Arthur, presented to the president of Fifa, Sepp Blatter, went on display at the organisation's Zurich headquarters.

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