Historic day at Anfield

Blog post by Danny Howes (10 minute read)

On Thursday 1st September 1892, Liverpool Football Club played their first game at Anfield against Rotherham Town. Lining up in goal that day for Rotherham Town, was none other than Arthur Wharton! Although Rotherham Town were reigning Midland League champions, Liverpool won the friendly match 7-1. Match reports state that it would have been many more if Arthur had not been playing.

World 100yd record holder plays in goal at Anfield

Remember at the time, Arthur was the World’s Official ‘Fastest Man on the Planet’, after running the 100yds in 10 seconds dead, at the home of Chelsea Football Club (Stamford Bridge, London) in 1886.

Fast Forward nearly 129 years (to the day) to Saturday 28th August 2021 and Liverpool FC are playing Chelsea FC in the Premier League. Two teams that Arthur never played for, but both of whom he has historically poignant connections to. Imagine if this was Liverpool’s first ever game, the equivalent would have been Usain Bolt playing in goal for Chelsea!

Standing on the Kop

Having supported Liverpool since the early 1980’s and a regular visitor to Anfield, it was an enormous pleasure of mine to be able to invite Shaun to the game on Saturday and give him his first ever Anfield experience. Watching the game from the Kop in our Arthur Wharton Foundation t-shirts, was a very special experience for both of us. Although the game finished 1-1, we had a fantastic day in Liverpool.

Liverpool Legend – Alex Smailes

People do ask me quite often how a lad from Darlington ends up supporting Liverpool Football Club….? It’s a fair question and one that I always reply with two words….Alex Smailes. For over 35 years, Alex was a scout for Liverpool FC in the North East, travelling the length and breadth of the country watching football. He also worked alongside my dad for the housebuilder Wimpey Homes on sites all over the north-east. Many a Monday night my dad would bring home a programme that Alex had picked up for me. Still to this day, I have no idea how he combined the two jobs!

Ex Liverpool Scout Alex Smailes holding the Arthur Wharton marquette
Alex Smailes at the Arthur Wharton Foundation – October 2020

Through Alex and his connections at Liverpool Football Club, that we were able to get Chris McLoughlin to write an amazing article on Arthur Wharton. The article was published in the club’s Official magazine in December 2020. Massive thanks to Alex for helping us get this arranged. You can access the article here

Hopefully one day the Foundation will be able to arrange a huge celebration of Arthur’s involvement in that historic game at Anfield. What a marvellous sight it would be, to see a flag being waved on the Kop with Arthur’s name on it.

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