Doncaster's Arthur Wharton, world's first black pro footballer, honoured on Black History tube map

A Doncaster footballer, the world’s first professional black player, has been honoured on a special version of the London Underground map as part of Black History Month.

By Darren Burke
Wednesday, 13th October 2021, 12:46 pm
Arthur Wharton has been honoured on a special London tube map commemorating influential black people.
Arthur Wharton has been honoured on a special London tube map commemorating influential black people.

Arthur Wharton, who is buried in Edlington, is among more than 270 pioneering black figures on the iconic map, which sees station names replaced with influential black people.

The map, created by Transport for London, has been released to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the Black Cultural Archives.

Mayor of London Sadiq Khan said: "Black History is London's history."

He added: "This reimagination of the iconic Tube map celebrates the enormous contribution black people have made, and continue to make, to the success of our city.

"I'm determined to create a more equal city where black lives truly matter. This starts with education and that's why this new Black History Tube Map is so important."

The map was researched and designed by historian Kelly Foster and the Black Cultural Archives, which were established in 1981 to record the histories of people from across the African diaspora in British culture and history.

Mr Wharton replaces Charing Cross on the map.

Born in Jamestown, Gold Coast, he moved to England in 1882 at age 19, to train as a Methodist missionary, but soon abandoned this in favour of becoming a full-time athlete.

While he was not the first mixed-heritage footballer in the United Kingdom — leading amateurs Robert Walker and Scotland international Andrew Watson predate him - he was the first mixed-heritage footballer to turn professional.

He began his career at Darlington in 1885, wrapping up at Stockport County in 1902, with appearances for Preston North End, Rotherham Town, Sheffield United and Stalybridge Rovers inbetween.

Having developed a drink problem, he retired from the game and found employment as a colliery haulage worker at Yorkshire Main Colliery in Edlington.

On his death in 1930 he was buried in an unmarked pauper's grave. The grave was given a headstone in 1997 after a campaign by anti-racism campaigners Football Unites, Racism Divides.

In 2003 Wharton was inducted into the English Football Hall of Fame in recognition of the impact he made on the game.

In 2014, a statue honouring Wharton was unveiled at St George's Park National Football Centre.