English FA to honour Arthur Wharton’s granddaughter at Ghana-England friendly

The English Football Association (FA) would honour the granddaughter of the first Ghanaian professional footballer to play in the English Premiership.

Sheila Leeson is the granddaughter of Ghanaian-born British first black professional footballer Arthur Wharton, she would be honoured before the Ghana-England match at Wembley on Tuesday March 29, 2011, a UK publication, FourFourTwo Magazine has said.

Sheila Leeson is being honoured for playing the crucial role in discovering the history of Britain’s first black professional footballer and also uncovering “Arthur Wharton’s remarkable sporting feats – which included becoming the world’s fastest man which had been largely forgotten until Sheila played a crucial part in uncovering the story”, FourFourTwo said.

“The FA has chosen the first-ever full international between England and Ghana which is the biggest black attendance at any football game played in England to acknowledge the unique role played by Arthur as an early black pioneer. Sheila will be joined by modern-day black footballing pioneers Cyrille Regis and Brendon Batson at Wembley as guests of the FA”, the publication said.

Wharton, who played for Preston North End, Rotherham Town, Sheffield United, Darlington, Stalybridge Rovers and Stockport County in the late nineteenth century was also the first man recorded to run 100 yards in 10 seconds, a professional cricketer and a champion cyclist.
Arthur Wharton died in 1930.

The man Arthur Wharton

The man Arthur Wharton was born in the then Gold Coast, at James Town in Accra in 1865 to a mixed race parents. His father was half-Grenadian and half-Scottish, and his mother was from Ghanaian royalty.

Arthur moved to England to train as a Methodist missionary at a school in Cannock, Staffordshire. Available literature says he got bored with academic work and religious life and so he quit school to find expression in his sporting talents. He moved to the Durham area where he competed in an athletics competitions. There he set a new world record of 10 seconds for the 100 yards dash at Stamford Bridge in July 1886. This achievement led to invitations to compete in professional athletics tournaments from which he could earn an income and make a living from sports.

During his athletics career, he drew attention to himself from football clubs.

He subsequently began his first professional career as a footballer with Preston North End. He joined the team in 1886 as a semi-professional player. He turned fully professional when he signed for Rotherham United in 1889 as a goalkeeper.

See more about Wharton.

By Emmanuel K. Dogbevi & Ekow Quandzie

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