FURD Fiver brings inspiring story of pioneer black footballer into schools worldwide

25 Nov 2013 / News

The story of Britain`s first black professional footballer has been brought to life through a 5-strong pack of educational materials produced by Football Unites, Racism Divides (FURD), made possible with a grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) and a donation from the Professional Footballers Association.

Pack contents

- A 16 page comic `Arthur Wharton, Victorian Sporting Superstar`, which is the first in a series of FURD Pioneers comic books;

- A 30 minute documentary film, `The Arthur Wharton Story` starring popular children`s TV personality Johny Pitts of `Escape from Scorpion Island`;

- A new exhibition `Arthur Wharton: 1865-1930, the World`s First Black Professional Footballer`;

- An Arthur Wharton website containing a wealth of information and materials available to download including a range of resources for schools and community projects;

- A booklet to accompany the exhibition, including poetry inspired by Arthur`s life written by young people in South Yorkshire.

Relevance for today

Howard Holmes, from FURD, commented: `Arthur Wharton`s story is so important because it shows there was a black presence at the dawn of the professional game. We have designed the range of resources developed through the Heritage Project so there is something for everyone, whether you are a primary school pupil or postgraduate researcher`.

Free Resources

All materials will be freely available; donations to FURD`s educational work are discretionary.

Work in schools

The Arthur Wharton 5-pack of resources forms part of a larger project supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund and the PFA which has seen FURD work in schools to re-tell Arthur`s story through art, drama and poetry workshops as well as through film.

Victorian Sporting Superstar

Arthur Wharton was the world`s first black professional footballer, and the first man to run 100 yards in `even time` (10 seconds flat) when winning the AAA sprint title at Stamford Bridge in 1886. Wharton was born in Accra, Ghana in 1865. His footballing career included playing for Preston North End - who won the inaugural Football League title in 1888-9 - Rotherham United, Darlington, Stockport County and Sheffield United. When Arthur made his league debut for The Blades at Sunderland on 23 February 1895 he became the first black footballer to play in the English First Division. He also played professional cricket for Greasbrough CC, Rotherham.


Arthur`s later years were spent as a miner, finally as a haulage hand at Yorkshire Main Colliery, Edlington, near Doncaster. He died in December 1930 at the nearby Springwell Lane Workhouse, after a long and painful illness. Football Unites, Racism Divides raised the money to place a headstone on his previously unmarked grave in 1997, after 67 years `absence of memory`.

Launch event

The resources will be unveiled at a launch event on Thursday 28th November at FURD`s base at the U-Mix Centre, Asline Road, Sheffield, S2 4UJ, from 4.30 to 6.00pm.

Support from Kick It Out`s Next 20 ambassador and PFA

Special guests at the launch event include Sheffield United and England Under-21 international Harry Maguire, who is one of the new list of young `Next 20` ambassadors recruited by Kick It Out, and PFA Chief Executive Gordon Taylor OBE.

Backing from HLF

Fiona Spiers, Head of Heritage Lottery Fund for Yorkshire and The Humber said: `This is a fantastic project which has enabled young people and communities to uncover and find out about Arthur`s remarkable life. The educational materials and resources will ensure that Arthur`s achievements are remembered for many years to come.

Support from PFA

Gordon Taylor commented: `The PFA are proud to have supported the Arthur Wharton Heritage Project. We are delighted that the excellent materials produced by FURD will be freely available for teachers, young people, fans and players alike to discover for themselves the inspiring story of this amazing footballer pioneer and all-round sporting superstar.`

For more information about the FURD education pack contact Howard Holmes (07973 414 722) or Ruth Johnson (0114 258 7787) at FURD

The Arthur Wharton Heritage Project has been made possible with a £117,300 grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) and a donation from the Professional Footballers Association.

Additional Information

Football Unites, Racism Divides (FURD)

Football Unites Racism Divides (FURD) is a youth and social inclusion project and charity based in Sheffield, England, which works locally, nationally and internationally to combat racism and increase understanding between different communities. For more about FURD`s work visit www.furd.org

Heritage Lottery Fund

Using money raised through the National Lottery, the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) sustains and transforms a wide range of heritage for present and future generations to take part in, learn from and enjoy. From museums, parks and historic places to archaeology, natural environment and cultural traditions, we invest in every part of our diverse heritage. HLF has supported almost 35,000 projects with more than £5.5bn across the UK including £380m to 2,845 projects in Yorkshire & the Humber alone. Website: www.hlf.org.uk.