World’s first black professional footballer remembered as part of Preston Windrush Festival

Posted on - 16th June, 2024 - 8:00pm | Author - | Posted in - Cottam, History, Preston News, Preston North End, Sport, UCLan, What's On in Preston
Arthur Wharton c1896
Arthur Wharton played for PNE from 1886 to 1888

The first black professional footballer in the world is being commemorated as part of Preston’s Windrush Festival.

Arthur Wharton – who played for Preston North End’s Invincibles from 1886-1888 – was originally from Ghana and is to give his name to an inaugural cup competition.

The University of Central Lancashire’s sports arena at Cottam is the venue for Windrush FC to take on a team from Lancashire Fire and Rescue Service on Saturday (22 June) from 11am.

Read more: Oldest surviving member of Preston’s Windrush community celebrates 100th birthday

Director and co-founder of Windrush Initiatives CIC, Adrian Murrell, said: “We wanted to celebrate National Windrush Day in a special way this year, honouring a black sports legend, famous to Preston, whilst also encouraging exercise for all, whatever energy level, age and ability.

“We host and signpost lots of different activities from our community hub, from ladies walking groups, to walking football and men’s health groups. We encourage people to get in touch to find out what activities are available and to get involved. Exercise doesn’t have to be high energy, just meeting up, having a laugh with like-minded people and getting some fresh air is always good for the body and soul.”

In attendance at the match will be Oshor Williams, the first black captain of PNE, Howard Gayle who was the first black footballer to play for Liverpool and Blackburn, Ken Monkou, TV pundit and former Dutch footballer and Shaun Campbell who founded the Arthur Wharton Foundation.

Music on the day is being provided by DJ Toro a regular at Trinidad’s carnival and the Windrush festival.

Read more: A short history of Preston’s Caribbean community – from colour bar to cricket to Carnival

Co-director of the Global Race Centre for Equality (GRACE) at the University of Central Lancashire, Dr John Wainwright, said: “We are proud to work in partnership with Windrush CIC to celebrate the life of Arthur Wharton as Preston North End’s First black footballer.

“Through co working with Windrush and Black footballers to come together to play this match we are acknowledging the invaluable and admirable contribution that Arthur Wharton and all black footballers have made toward racial equality not only in football, but in communities and society more generally.”

Who was Arthur Wharton?

Originally from Ghana, Wharton joined PNE as an amateur in 1886.

He left Preston North End for Rotherham Town, signing a contract to play in the English Football League.

In 1886, he also took the title of National 100 yards Champion in a race run by the Amateur Athletics Association, and a year later, he set a record time for cycling between Preston and Blackburn. He retired from football in 1902 and died in 1930.

A blue plaque in his memory can be found at Deepdale Stadium.

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