United legend Arthur to become comic book star

FURD Fiver brings inspiring story of pioneer black footballer into schools worldwide The story of Britain's first black professional footballer has been brought to life through a 5-strong pack of educational materials produced by  Football Unites, Racism Divides (FURD), made possible with a grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) and a donation from the Professional Footballers Association.
FURD Fiver brings inspiring story of pioneer black footballer into schools worldwide The story of Britain's first black professional footballer has been brought to life through a 5-strong pack of educational materials produced by Football Unites, Racism Divides (FURD), made possible with a grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) and a donation from the Professional Footballers Association.
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Sheffield United legend Arthur Wharton – the world’s first black professional footballer – is set to find new fame as a comic book hero.

Arthur’s life is to be celebrated in a 16-page comic, part of a new free pack of educational materials to be sent out to schools around the world.

The project is being put together by Sheffield-based group Football Unites, Racism Divides, with help from a Lottery grant.

The pack will also include a 30-minute documentary, The Arthur Wharton Story, featuring children’s TV personality Jonny Pitts.

A website has also been created containing information and materials available to download, including resources for schools and community projects.

FURD organiser Howard Holmes said there was also a booklet featuring poetry from South Yorkshire children which was inspired by Arthur’s life.

“Arthur Wharton’s story is so important because it shows there was a black presence at the dawn of the professional game,” he said.

“We have designed the range of resources through the Heritage Project so there is something for everyone, whether you are a primary school pupil or postgraduate researcher.”

Arthur made his debut for the Blades in February 1895, the first black man to play in the English First Division.

An all-round athlete born in Ghana, he was also the first man to run 100 yards in 10 seconds flat and also played professional cricket in Rotherham.

His football career also included spells with Preston North End, Rotherham United, Stockport County and Darlington.

Arthur’s story has previously been celebrated through art, drama and poetry workshops in schools.

His later years were spent as a miner at Yorkshire Main Colliery, Edlington, near Doncaster. He died in December 1930 at the nearby Springwell Lane Workhouse, after a long and painful illness.

Football Unites, Racism Divides raised the money to place a headstone on his previously unmarked grave in 1997.

The education package is to be launched at the U-Mix Centre tomorrow, with Blades player Harry Maguire a special guest.