FURD backs Rabbi Howell headstone campaign
Football Unites, Racism Divides (FURD) has backed a campaign to get pioneering Romani footballer, Rabbi Howell, a headstone on his unmarked grave. The campaign has been kick-started by the organisation’s donation of £250 towards funding the cost of a headstone.
FURD founder Howard Holmes said: “It’s a very worthwhile campaign. We had experience of doing something similar with Arthur Wharton as the first Black professional footballer. He was buried in an unmarked grave in Doncaster in 1930 and we raised funds to put a headstone on his grave in May 1997.”
Rabbi Howell had a hugely successful football career playing for Sheffield United and was a vital part of their success when they won the First Division title in 1898. Howell played for 13 years at the top of English football but had to retire after breaking his leg during a match whilst playing for Preston North End.
His time at Sheffield United has been retold in the Steven Kay book ‘The Evergreen in Red and White’ which was released in February 2014.
On Kay’s book, Howard said: “When we heard about Steven Kay’s campaign to do the same for Rabbi Howell, we still had some money left over from the Arthur Wharton headstone fund so are very pleased to pledge £250 to kick start the campaign.”
While doing some research for the book Kay got in touch with Howell’s granddaughter and great grandson. They later discovered where Howell was buried and were shocked to learn he didn’t have a headstone.
Kay said: “It is sad that anyone who played for England has no headstone. This campaign is a vehicle to the wider issues of racism, and shows that there was an outstanding Romani presence at the dawn of the professional game.”
Howell also played for Liverpool and Preston North End, during his inspirational career, and it is hoped that the two clubs, along with Sheffield United, will match FURD’s donation.