Offside: South African footballers in the UK exhibition

07 Jun 2010 / News

A new exhibition about the story of South African footballers in the <?xml:namespace prefix = st1 ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com🏢smarttags" />UK, researched by FURD, is about to open in time for the World Cup finals.


The ‘Offside’ exhibition will be on display at the highly acclaimed District Six Museum in Cape Town, South Africa. Through an interactive mix of text, photographs and life-size comic-book-style cut-outs of featured players, ‘Offside’ charts the role football has played in relations between the two countries from the time the game was taken to South Africa by the British colonial power in the 19th century, to the present day. <?xml:namespace prefix = o ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com🏢office" />

The exhibition throws up some truly fascinating tales from the 19th century, through the apartheid era and to the modern day Premiership of how South Africa serviced England with so many players for many years.

The trend was set by Wilfred Waller who became the first South African professional footballer to play in the UK, turning out for Bolton Wanderers in 1899. He was followed by Alec Bell in 1903 who played for Manchester Utd and Gordon Hodgson in 1924, who went on to score a staggering 17 hat-tricks for Liverpool.

‘Offside’ is a collaboration between FURD and Kick It Out in the UK, and the British Council and the District Six Museum in Cape Town, with the District Six Museum doing the artwork and design. FURD staff will be in Cape Town for the launch on June 15th and will be on hand to give guided tours of the exhibition until June 28th.

South Africa legend Lucas Radebe gave his backing to the exhibition: “This year’s World Cup provides a chance for people to see beyond what happens on the field of play and learn about South Africa’s rich and difficult history. ‘Offside’ brings this idea to life and offers an exciting story of some of our nation’s pioneering players.”


Garth Crooks, another supporter of the exhibition, said: “Many fans in England will associate the arrival of Phil Masinga and Lucas Radebe at Leeds United in the early 1990’s as the first time South Africans played in Britain. The generation before might remember Albert Johanneson in the 1960’s, but the story begins way before that.”


Alongside the ‘Offside’ exhibition is the Fields of Play exhibition which charts the role that football has played in the Western Cape against the background of forced removals during apartheid. 


The District Six Museum


The District Six Museum is located at 15A Buitenkant Street, Cape Town, 8001 (a few hundred metres from the fanzone).Tel: +27(0)21 466 7200. It acts as a focus for the memories and lessons of the apartheid era.


District Six used to be a vibrant multiracial neighbourhood. However, in 1901, black residents were forcibly removed from the area, and in 1966 it was declared a whites-only area under the Group Areas Act brought in by the apartheid regime in 1950. 60,000 people were forcibly removed to townships on barren outlying areas aptly known as the Cape Flats, and their houses in District Six were flattened by bulldozers.


Educational resources and access to the exhibition in the UK


A brief summary of the content can be viewed as a pdf below. This pdf is also available as a free pull-out poster as part of FURD’s 2010 ‘Unity’ newsletter. Contact FURD if you’d like any copies.


A comic has been developed by the District Six Museum based on some of the players’ stories that feature in the exhibition, and can be viewed as a pdf shortly. 


If you would like to talk to us about using the exhibition content in your school, get in touch.


For more details, please contact Howard Holmes or Ruth Johnson at FURD on 0114 2553156, Danny Lynch at Kick It Out on 07877 903 6696 or email