Blog post written by Danny Howes (5 minute read)
Arthur Wharton #1 for Sheffield United
Arthur Wharton – Saturday 23rd February 1895, started in goal for Sheffield United against Sunderland AFC.
This important Division One game was played at Newcastle Road, Sunderland, in front of an estimated crowd of 6,000. This was league match number 24 of the 30 game season, and remember, teams only received 2 points for a win and 1 for a draw. Bizarre to think that the ‘3 points for a win’ rule, didn’t come into effect until 1981.
It was a tough day for Arthur Wharton – it was his only game in the top flight for Sheffield United and he ended up on the losing side. Sunderland won the game 2-0, with Andy McCreadie putting Sunderland 1-nil up after 16 minutes, quickly followed by a second goal (on 18 minutes) from Johnny Campbell.
Famous Footballers of 1895 in pictures
Amazingly, the Arthur Wharton Foundation have been able to find a number of pictures of players that took the field of play that day. These images were sourced from an 1897 publication of ‘Famous Footballer and Athletes’ (edited by C.W. Alcock & Rowland Hill, Hudson & Kearns, Photographers / News of the World). Arthur Wharton is included within the publication, but was then representing Rotherham Town.
All of these amazing images were originally issued in 14-page weekly parts, or as single sheets within the News of the World paper. Interestingly, these publications covered Association Football and Rugby, individual players and teams.
The Arthur Wharton Foundation have been able to source a bound copy of all of the weekly parts, which contains 224 images – including 108 Footballers. It is a fascinating piece of footballing history. It contains the well-known picture of our Arthur, which was the inspiration for Arthur’s face in his mural. Importantly, it places him alongside his peers – his fellow Professional Footballers. Many of the players Arthur played with / against, received international caps
Sheffield United players – including Arthur Wharton
Some interesting facts, about Arthur’s team mates that day:
- Ernest Needham, Mick Whitham and Rabbi Howell – were all capped by England (check out the jerseys in the images above)
- Arthur Watson, Ernest Needham and Mick Whitham – all lived in the same village (Ecclesfield), they played together for the village team and Rotherham Swifts, before moving to Sheffield United.
- Rabbi Howell, or ‘Rab’ as he was known to the crowd at Bramall Lane, was born in Wincobank (near Sheffield) on October 12th 1869. Like Arthur, Rabbi was also a trailblazer. He is widely recognised as the first Romani to play for England, winning two caps. After leaving Sheffield United in 1898, he made 60 appearances for Liverpool, followed by 59 appearances for Preston North End.
Sunderland AFC – Football Division One Champions 1894/95
Sunderland AFC went onto win the league in 1894/95, finishing on 47 points, 5 above second placed Everton. Interestingly, only 2 weeks later on Saturday 9th March 1895 (match 26), at Bramall Lane, Sheffield United inflicted Sunderland’s heaviest defeat of the season (4-0).
However, Arthur Wharton didn’t play in this return fixture, replaced by the Sheffield United legend – William ‘Fatty’ Foulke. Arthur Wharton played three games for Sheffield United, friendlies against Lingfield and Leicester Fosse and this 1895 Division One game against Sunderland.
Certainly, there are more players in the ‘Famous Footballer and Athletes’ book that Arthur Wharton took to the field with during his career. We very much look forward to researching this.
Coincidentally, Sunderland won their 23rd February 2021 game against Fleetwood Town 2-0…… The very same result as the historic game against Sheffield United in 1895 – 126 years to the day!
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