The First Black Footballer: Arthur Wharton, 1865-1930 - An Absence of Memory

Phil Vasili

 

A biography of the world's first black professional footballer, set in the cultural and political context of Victorian England. Offers new insight into the onset of sport professionalism, the class divide and the roots of institutionalized racism.

Arthur Wharton was the world's first black professional footballer. He was also the first 100 yards world record holder and twice amateur sprint champion of Britain. He came from a wealthy Gold Coast/Ghanaian family, enjoyed national celebrity in England as an all-round athlete, but died a pauper in a South Yorkshire pit village. Recounted within the social, cultural and political context of Victorian England, Wharton's story not only remembers the turbulent personal and professional life of an eminent sportsman but offers fresh insight into the onset of professionalism in British sport, the class divide and the beginnings of institutionalized racism. The author is collaborating with Irvine Welsh on a dramatization of Wharton's life which Channel 4 will broadcast next year.

This book is available to buy here.