Football Unites, Racism Divides marks 2014 as Arthur’s Year


Football Unites, Racism Divides marks 2014 as Arthur’s Year

An exciting  range of educational materials is being launched by Sheffield-based project Football Unites, Racism Divides (FURD) to coincide with the 125th Anniversary of Arthur Wharton signing for Rotherham Town in 1889 – and so becoming the world’s first black professional footballer.


FURD have developed a new website – – and all resources can be accessed free of charge through the site, with the exception of a comic book ‘Arthur Wharton: Victorian Sporting Superstar’. The comic book is part of a wider package of educational materials produced by FURD’s Arthur Wharton Heritage Project, which also include:


•             'The Arthur Wharton Story' documentary film

•             A new Wharton exhibition

•             A 40 page booklet

•             PowerPoint presentations for use in school assemblies and lessons


‘2014 will undoubtedly be Arthur’s Year, the time when his amazing story will finally reach millions of people in the UK alone’, commented Howard Holmes from FURD.


‘A number of celebratory events are planned, including separate statues of the great pioneer outside Rotherham United’s New York Stadium and at the FA’s St George’s Park HQ, near Burton. We are encouraging fans, football authorities, clubs, youth and community groups and voluntary organisations to host events in celebration of Arthur’s life and achievements’, added Holmes.


The new website will carry details of all celebratory events. The educational materials were developed by FURD thanks to support from the Heritage Lottery Fund and the PFA.


‘Victorian Sporting Superstar’ is available from for £2. Discounted rates are available for bulk orders.



Contact Howard Holmes for more details of Arthur’s Year


Mobile: 07973 414 722


Note to editors:

Arthur Wharton was the world's first black professional footballer, and the first man to run 100 yards in 'even time' (10 seconds flat) when winning the AAA sprint title at Stamford Bridge in 1886. His footballing career included playing for Preston North End - who won the inaugural Football League title in 1888-9 - Rotherham United, Darlington, Stockport County and Sheffield United. He also played professional cricket for Greasbrough CC,  Rotherham.


Arthur's later years were spent as a miner, finally as a haulage hand at Yorkshire Main Colliery, Edlington, near Doncaster. He died in December 1930 at the nearby Springwell Lane Workhouse, after a long and painful illness. Football Unites, Racism Divides raised the money to place a headstone on his previously unmarked grave in 1997, after 67 years 'absence of memory'.


A grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund, supported by a donation from the Professional Footballers Association, enabled FURD to explore Wharton's amazing story through the use of art, drama, poetry and film in schools in Sheffield, Rotherham and Doncaster.