Curzon Ashton honour Arthur Wharton
Curzon Ashton have honoured the world’s first black professional footballer Arthur Wharton by unveiling an English Heritage Blue Plaque at their Tameside ground.
The plaque was unveiled by PFA chief executive Gordon Taylor, and Tameside Counciller Dawson Lane. Tameside’s first black football manager Mike McKenzie and George Oghani, one of the first black players to make a major impression on Tameside, were also at the event.
The Evo-Stik NPL First Division North club’s ground was chosen as the site of the plaque as it is part of the ‘Tameside Sports Village’ which also encompasses the East Cheshire Harriers Athletic Club and the Tameside cycle circuit. The plaque can now be seen by the Blues’ main entrance.
Wharton, who was born in Ghana in 1865, played in the Second Division for Rotherham Town, made one First Division appearance for Sheffield United, and finished his career at Stockport County.
However, during the 1890s he was on the books of two now-defunct Tameside clubs – Stalybridge Rovers and Ashton North End. Both enjoyed brief success and even applied for election to the Football League.
For a time, Wharton was the proprietor of a tobacconist’s shop on Old Street, Ashton. Normally he played in goal but he also played on the wing and at one time held the world record for the 100 yards sprint.
Wharton died in 1930 and is buried in Edlington, South Yorkshire. In 2003 he was inducted into the English Football Hall of Fame. There is a small statue of him at FIFA’s Zurich headquarters in Switzerland.
Cllr Lane said: “Black players have been at the heart of football for many years – from people like Pele and Eusebio to current stars such as Rio Ferdinand and Mario Balotelli. It’s amazing to think that it all started with Arthur Wharton who played in Tameside. Arthur was a truly historic figure within the game and I’m delighted that the council is commemorating his role with a blue plaque.”
From Evo Stik League