First Black International Footballer


The first Black player to play football internationally was ANDREW WATSON who played for Scotland between 1881 and 1882 . Born May 1857 in British Guiana, West Indies, Watson aged 24, went to Glasgow University to acquire a Bachelor of Arts degree. Watson lived with his wife and child at Afton Crescent in Govan.

 WATSON started his career with Maxwell FC in Glasgow. Then aged 19, his next step was Parkgrove in 1874. By the time Watson reached the University in November 1875, he had already played football for Scotland’s leading team, Queens Park. From 1880 – 1887 there came Watson’s days of glory at Queens Park. Records show that he played in 36 competitive games for Queens Park. He also appeared for the London Swifts in the English Cup championships in 1882, making him the first Black player in English Cup history. Commentators of the day regarded Watson “as one of the best players in Britain”. He earned 2 Scottish Cup medals and 4 Charity Cup medals during his career.  He was much sought after by clubs in England as well as Scotland.

ANDREW WATSON’s place in football history extends to the highest echelons of the game. Andrew Watson as a player and club administrator put Scottish and British football on the world map. Watson was a man of intelligence, foresight, and entrepreneurial skills He pioneered a narrative of Black progress in British football that can be regularly tapped for inspiration. As Club Secretary for Queens Park- the man who arranged the team’s schedule and managed its affairs- Watson was the first Black in a British club’s board room. He helped build up the profile of his club and prestigious tournaments, and ensured the loyalty of future generations of fans and spectators. Watson’s stellar attributes marked his as special for all times.

The first Black professional player was ARTHUR WHARTON, playing for Preston North End in 1889. Wharton was born in Ghana, West Afrika, joined PNE in the late 1880’s. He was mainly a goal keeper who sometimes took the field. WALTER TULL, of Barbadian descent played for the North London club Tottenham Hotspurs in the early 20th century.

ARTUR FRIEDENREICH was the first Black Brazilian who started his career in 1910. He dyed his hair and skin to avoid problems from the first years of his career. Up to the time of King Pele, ARTHUR WATSON was perhaps the most important Black player in the world capable of playing on either side of defense or in midfield. Andrew Watson went on to become the world’s first Black footballing administrator.

 No mean feat for a first time generation immigrant in a game where non-whites were rare, and in a city like Glasgow where African and or Caribbean people were nearly invisible.

It is on record that the game of football was introduced into the Gold Coast region towards the close of the 19th century by merchants from Europe. Sailors during their leisure times played football among themselves and sometimes with a select side of the indigenous people. 
The popularity of the game spread like wild fire within a short time along the coast culminating in the formation of the first football club, Excelsior, in 1903 by Mr. Briton, a Jamaican-born Briton, who was then the Head Teacher of Philip Quaicoe Government Boys School in Cape Coast.
Philip Quaicoe Government Boys School in Cape Coast.

He played club  for Queens’s Park.

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