Weʼre raising £500 to install a blue plaque for Arthur Wharton, the first 100yd record holder, first black professional footballer, miner and Moorthorpe resident.
- South Kirkby, United Kingdom
- Local community
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In the mid 1990's football historian Phil Vasili stumbled across the remarkable figure of Arthur Wharton and a forgotten sporting hero began to once again gain the public recognition he deserved. Since then a great many people have worked tirelessly to discover more about the life of the man who came to England from the Gold Coast (Ghana) and set out on a sporting journey into greatness, yet was buried in an unmarked grave in Edlington, Doncaster.
Despite Arthur being a goalkeeper of immense stature in the late 1800's he chose to leave "the invincibles" of Preston North End to try his hand at pedestrianism (sprinting to you and i) in Yorkshire. In the process Arthur became the first 100 yard record holder and earned national fame for his sprinting prowess. In 1888 the footballing ability of Arthur came under intense scrutiny in a much criticised one off appearance for Sheffield Wednesday but the 'beautiful game' continued to appeal to Arthur and he returned to the sport, becoming the first British black professional footballer and went on to play for Sheffield United in the top flight of English football, no mean feat. If that was not enough Arthur chose to immerse himself in the more gentile sport of cricket, and he is known to have played at South Kirkby, where he lived in 1911 at 105 Clifford Street.
Through his latter years Arthur never gave up his love of sport, even when his professional sporting career fell away and he sought work in other areas he still played at a good sporting level and often used his fame and recognition to raise money for others in need by appearing in athletics events, cricket matches and football games. The man who overcame prejudice to reach the pinnacle of sport used the attention that his prowess and his reputation brought to help others in the communities in which he lived.
The question is not should we it is why aren't we already? - Local resident Gary Wood responding to the question of whether we should or should not honour Arthur with a blue plaque in Moorthorpe, South Kirkby.
Today across England communities have chosen to honour the fact that this colossus of a man once lived and worked amongst them. In Rotherham (where he became a professional footballer) stands an impressive statue. The Football Association similarly recognise his legacy. In Tameside a blue plaque has been used to honour the period in which Arthur lived there and here in West Yorkshire the Pontefract Civic Society have agreed that a blue plaque would be a fitting memorial to the fact that Arthur was once a resident amongst our mining ancestors.
With the support and backing of Football Unites, Racism Divides and Kick It Out the campaign to place a blue plaque on or near to the property that Arthur once called home is under way. We need just £500 to make this a reality. A donation of just £5 from 100 people would be enough to make this a reality. Please give generously, if you cannot afford to give then please spread word of the campaign via social media. Every Tweet and Facebook like is appreciated.
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Matthew Thomas started crowdfunding
Leave a message of support
Nov 2, 2017
A brilliant campaign!
Oct 4, 2017
Keep the working class histories alive
Oct 4, 2017
I hope you get the money.
Oct 1, 2017
Sep 14, 2017
Sep 14, 2017
I am proud to start the ball rolling with a donation.
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About the fundraiser
South Kirkby, United Kingdom
Yorkshire Party Executive member with a strong coal mining ancestry, supporter of Crohns & Colitis UK, University of York graduate, archaeologist, historian. Above all else, proud South Kirkby and Moorthorpe resident.
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