One of FURD’s constant themes from its beginnings has been the fantastic story of Arthur Wharton, the world’s first black professional footballer, world sprint record holder, professional cricketer and an outstanding Victorian sportsman.
At the FURD launch back in April 1996 we started an appeal to raise a headstone on Arthur’s unmarked grave, in Edlington Cemetery, near Doncaster. This aim was realised in May 1997, and FURD has worked regularly ever since with Wharton’s biographer, Phil Vasili, and granddaughter, Sheila Leeson. Sheila’s crucial role in bringing her grandfather’s story to the world was formally recognised by the FA at a pitch-side ceremony before the England-Ghana international at Wembley in March 2011.
In September 2011, a new chapter of the story opened - FURD secured funding from the Heritage Lottery Fund to run a two-year Arthur Wharton Heritage Project. This involves poets, artists, drama workers and filmmakers working with schools in South Yorkshire to uncover and explore various aspects of Arthur’s story – including his careers as a cricketer and a miner. One end result will be an educational DVD that will be a valuable teacher’s aid in demonstrating the relevance of Arthur’s life to today’s society.
Please contact Lisa Sultanti or Lloyd Samuels at FURD if you or your school/youth group would like to get involved.
More information about Wharton can be found elsewhere on our site by following the links below. The AW Heritage Project is also on Twitter - see link below.