On Saturday 1st May 1965, Albert Louis Johanneson became the first black footballer to appear in an FA Cup Final as Leeds United met Liverpool. Albert was cheered in anticipation by Leeds fans, but also clearly audible were the widespread boos reserved for England`s first Black Superstar.
There were virtually no black professionals in England when, in January 1961, the 20 year old from Germiston township in Johannesburg pulled up his collar against the icy blast as his train pulled into Leeds station.
Albert had grown up in Apartheid South Africa, where state-sponsored racial discrimination was the crude tool by which everyday society functioned; sadly he found early Sixties Britain a deeply prejudiced country where institutional racism was firmly ingrained.
Fortunately for Albert, on the field with Leeds, Jack Charlton and Billy Bremner took it upon themselves to become the winger`s minders, sort of early-day anti-racists. Bremner in particular defended Albert against the racist actions of opposition players, fans and club officials.
When new manager Don Revie made Albert his first signing he signalled his determination that lowly Division 2 Leeds were about to build an international reputation. The Real Madrid-style kit soon followed, and as season 1964-5 drew to a close the Yorkshire team were favourites to achieve the League and Cup double. Albert was the exhilarating star of the team, scoring ten times from the left wing that season; but they faltered at the final hurdle, finishing runners-up in both league (to Man Utd) and in the Cup, losing 2-1 to Liverpool.
Now Football Unites, Racism Divides have joined forces with illustrator Archie Birch from Cape Town to publish a 24-page comic book telling Albert`s inspirational, yet sadly poignant story. The partnership project has built on the success of a previous comic collaboration 'Arthur Wharton, Victorian Sporting Superstar' between Birch and Howard Holmes, founder of FURD.
Former Leeds and Sheffield United star Brian Deane has welcomed the acknowledgement that Albert is now receiving in the year that marks the 50th Anniversary of Albert`s appearance in the FA Cup Final. Deane commented:
"As young, football-crazy lads growing up in Chapeltown, Leeds, in the early 1970s, Albert Johanneson was a name that we were all familiar with. Although his career was over, we knew he had been a great player for Leeds United and an inspiration for the next generation of black footballing talent in the city.
He was a true pioneer, and one can only imagine how hard it must have been for Albert as the only black person in the stadium, never mind just on the pitch, in an age when there was open hostility against people purely because of the colour of their skin".
The comic has received backing from the SA-UK Seasons 2014-15 programme, the Fare Network and Professional Footballers Association in the UK, and the South African Football Players Union.
HOW TO ORDER
The comic is free; however we ask for a voluntary donation to Football Unites, Racism Divides (FURD), guide 2 pounds per copy, plus 2 pounds postage and packing. For extra copies please add 50p per comic to cover additional postage costs - eg three copies will cost 3 pounds p&p. All donations will go towards the work of the FURD Resources Library. Please send us your postal address.
Cheques should be made payable to 'Football Unites, Racism Divides', and can be sent to:
Football Unites, Racism Divides
The UMix Centre
19 Asline Road
Sheffield S2 4UJ
Alternatively you can pay by electronic bank transfer.
We offer a 25% discount for orders of over 50 copies.
Albert Johanneson, the First Black Superstar' is the second in the FURD Pioneers series of comics, following the first edition, also available from FURD, about Arthur Wharton, the first black professional footballer and world record holder for the 100 yards sprint. See www.arthurwharton.info.
For further details contact Howard Holmes on 07973 414 722, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.