Sheffield & South Yorkshire

Arthur Wharton honoured at Rotherham stadium

Arthur Wharton
Arthur Wharton played for Rotherham Town and Sheffield United

Football's first professional black player is to be commemorated with a statue in South Yorkshire.

Arthur Wharton is to be honoured outside Rotherham United's New York Stadium.

Born in 1865 in Jamestown, Gold Coast, in what is now Ghana, Wharton played for Rotherham Town and Sheffield United among other teams during a career between 1886 and 1902.

The statue is by Graham Ibbeson, a sculptor from neighbouring Barnsley.

Jim Cadman, the businessman behind the privately-financed project, said it was the 125th anniversary of Wharton signing for Rotherham Town in 1889.

Mr Cadman said he had established the Rotherham Sporting Guild to help raise money for the statue and fundraising is to continue.

Mr Ibbeson is known for work including his statues of Barnsley's former cricket umpire Dickie Bird and the late comedian Eric Morecambe.

Statue of Arthur Wharton
The planned statue has been designed by Barnsley sculptor Graham Ibbeson

Tony Stewart, chairman of Rotherham United, said: "We are delighted to be able to honour a remarkable individual who is still being talked about as a pioneer."

Wharton moved to County Durham in 1884 with the intention of training as a Methodist missionary. But he opted instead to become a full-time athlete.

In 1886 he became the Amateur Athletics Association's national 100-yard running champion.

His pioneering footballing career started as a goalkeeper at Darlington FC and he played for numerous teams.

Wharton played for the original Rotherham Town, a team of the same name was the forerunner of Rotherham United.

He died in a workhouse sanatorium in 1930.

Rotherham United moved to the New York Stadium in 2012 after playing several seasons at Sheffield's Don Valley Stadium while the new ground was built.

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