Saturday, 31 May 2008

The secret history of black football in the UK

The excellent Pitch Invasion blog explores the little-known history of Arab and African players in British football. Beginning with Arthur Wharton (right), who played for a slew of clubs including the indomitable Preston North End of the 1880s, the piece profiles a number of other colourful characters who graced the mud-and-thunder pitches of the UK. These include Hassan Hegazi - the Egyptian who made his name at Dulwich Hamlet before turning out for Fulham in 1911 - and Tesilimi "Thunder" Balogun - the Nigerian who signed for Peterborough in 1955 on the condition that the club also find him an apprenticeship in printing. We often think of the 1970s and 1980s as the era when the colour barrier was truly crossed, when the likes of John Barnes overcame the racist stupidity of their own supporters. But spare a thought for the unsung figures of the past, who had to make do in a footballing world that was very much black-and-white.

No comments: