A mural designed to celebrate the life of England’s first black footballer has been unveiled in Darlington.
The giant painting pays homage to Arthur Wharton, who played as a goalkeeper for Darlington FC in the 1880s. The Arthur Wharton Foundation, a charity created in his name, funded the project.
Wharton was born in Ghana in 1865. He moved to England at the age of 19 to work as a missionary, but he soon found interest in football and signed for Darlington. He also played cricket and was a keen cyclist.
He retired in 1902 and moved to Yorkshire, where he worked as a coal miner until his death in 1930. Wharton’s headstone was resurrected in 1997 thanks to the backing of anti-racism charities, and he was posthumously inducted into the English Football Hall of Fame in 2003.
The mural took two days to paint. It is situated on Widdowfield Street, where Wharton’s career began. The foundation’s founder, Shaun Campbell, has praised the finished piece and says that it can inspire others.
“His story made me realize what we can all achieve in the face of adversity,” Campbell says. “What all this is about is connecting the past to the present, for the future.”
The town also has a statue of Wharton outside the Darlington Arena.