Celebrating Women's Footballing Trailblazers: The Arthur Wharton Foundation's new mural celebrating some pioneering and trailblazing figures in the women's game. Picture showing the mural taken from the corner of Drury Street. and Widdowfield Street, with the Arthur Wharton Mural in the background.

Celebrating Women’s Footballing Trailblazers

The Arthur Wharton Foundation's new mural celebrating some pioneering and trailblazing figures in the women's game. Picture showing the mural taken from the corner of Drury Street. and Widdowfield Street.
Celebrating Women’s Footballing Trailblazers – mural on the external walls of
The Arthur Wharton Foundation, Darlington

Celebrating Women’s Footballing Trailblazers

The Arthur Wharton Foundation is proud to announce our new celebration mural. The ‘Celebrating Women’s Footballing Trailblazers’ mural includes figures involved in football from the present and the past, which links into our motto: “Connecting the Present, to the Past, for the Future”.

With the Women’s Euros being held in England this summer, the mural had to focus on women’s football.

We strongly believe that in order to move forward you must look back to see where you have come from. Education and learning is critical. History provides us with fascinating insights, which help us understand and explain why attitudes towards women’s football are currently the way they are. Importantly, it can also provide lessons and guidance on how we can ensure that the women’s game can continue to grow and flourish.

All eyes on Wembley

At 5pm on Sunday 31st July 2022, England will play Germany in the UEFA Women’s EURO final. The game will be played at Wembley Stadium, London, in front a 90,000 capacity crowd. Millions of people will tune in to watch from all over the world. It’s going to be a magnificent occasion.

However, millions of those people watching Sunday’s final won’t realise that the women’s game is just 51 years old in relative terms. It’s what makes this team’s achievement, all the more remarkable. A quick look back at the history, highlights that the women’s game has been oppressed for a long time.

Quite unsuitable for females

Many women’s teams were formed during the First World War years (1915-1919), and help fill the void left by the Football League’s hiatus. These matches attracted huge attendances, raising much needed money for the war wounded. There was no league in place, with many of the games being held on public bank holidays to maximise player availability and crowd attendances.

53,000 crowd attend Boxing Day match

One memorable game took place on Boxing Day 1920, between the world famous Dick, Kerr Ladies F.C. (based out of Preston) and St. Helens Ladies. The game at the home of Everton FC (Goodison Park, Liverpool), was played in front of a crowd of 53,000 with the Dick, Kerr Ladies winning the game 4-0. This clearly irked the committee men at The FA, who finally lost patience and threatened by the popularity of the women’s game.

Nearly one year later, on 3rd December 1921, The FA passed a resolution declaring the sport “quite unsuitable for females and ought not to be encouraged”. They went on to inform their member clubs that they shouldn’t allow women to play at their grounds.

Playing on despite the ban

The remarkable achievements and success of these teams of women was of great embarrassment to the men’s footballing establishment. What must have annoyed them even more was the reaction from these female footballers.

Banned from playing on association pitches, they moved their goalposts onto rugby pitches, school fields and even scrubland. Matches continued to be played during the 1920’s, attracting large attendances which generated much needed money for political and working-class charities.

The Quaker Ladies

One of these teams was set up in Darlington by Lillie Galloway in 1925. Darlington Football club gave the women strips and allowed them to train at their ground, though they were unable to play matches there (due to the ban).

The Quaker Ladies quickly established themselves as the leading women’s team in the North-East of England. You can read more about Lillie Galloway and ‘The Quaker Ladies’ in this article written by Chris Lloyd and published in the Northern Echo on Saturday 2nd July 2022. It’s a fascinating story.

Celebrating Women's Footballing Trailblazers: The Arthur Wharton Foundation's new mural celebrating some pioneering and trailblazing figures in the women's game. Picture showing the mural wall on Widdowfield Street of Lillie Galloway, who was the Founder of the very first Darlington FC Women’s team in 1923.
Lillie Galloway – Founder of Darlington’s Quaker Ladies Football team in 1925

50 years in the wilderness

The ban caused significant harm to women’s football. Male chauvinistic attitudes towards women footballers was also evident in the way it was covered in print.

An example of this can be seen in the newspaper cartoon below (Evening Despatch – January 1927), entitled ‘Women Footballers’.

“We do not think however that women’s football will ever become popular. Referees couldn’t stand it, neither could the spectators, and what can the baby think about it?

“But surely that is nothing to brag about?”

It wasn’t until 1971 when the The FA Council lifted the ban which forbade women playing on the grounds of affiliated clubs. 50 years in the wilderness.

Newspaper cutting mocking the Quaker Ladies (Evening Despatch Newspaper, January 1927)

Worldwide restrictions on women’s football

The English FA wasn’t the only national association to place restrictions on women’s football. In France women’s football was also banned between 1932 until 1975. In Spain, women were denied the right to play football from 1935 until 1980.*

Incredibly, a law was introduced in Brazil in 1941 decreeing that women could not take part in a number of sports because ‘violent’ sports were ‘not suitable for the female body’. The ban wasn’t lifted until 1981.*

Things weren’t much better in Germany (England’s opponents in Sunday’s final). In 1955 the German Football Federation (DFB) in West Germany declared that women’s football was ‘essentially alien to the nature of women’ and that ‘in the fight for the ball, the feminine grace vanishes, body and soul will inevitably suffer harm’.*

Meanwhile in Italy

In 1933, to stop the ‘phenomenon’ of women’s football taking hold, the Italian National Olympic Committee (CONI) prevented women from playing in tournaments and competitions, pulling them towards athletics. It wasn’t until 1968 that the Italian Women’s Football Federation (Federazione Italiana Calcio FemminileFICF) was formed.

England, Brazil, Germany, Spain and Italy…five of the only eight nations to have won the Men’s FIFA World Cup – all banned women from playing football.

Like seriously, what were they ALL thinking?

*Source: Suzanne Wrack’s book: A Woman’s Game: The Rise, Fall, and Rise Again of Women’s Football

Talented local artist paints a fitting tribute

Roll forward 51 years from the end of the English ban in 1971…to 2022….We always knew that we would celebrating the Women’s Euros 2022 with a Celebrating Women’s Footballing Trailblazers mural. It was always going to happen. Creating the opportunity for a talented, local female artist, and getting the local community involved was also really important to us.

Painted by talented local artist Jilly Johnston (from Newton Aycliffe), the mural reflects on the history of football from a number of perspectives. It celebrates some pioneering and trailblazing figures of both local and national interest from within the women’s game.

Jilly wanted to take herself out of her comfort zone in tribute to the endeavour of those who went before to affect change in the women’s game.

We absolutely love it and so does the community.

Celebrating Women's Footballing Trailblazers: The Arthur Wharton Foundation's new mural celebrating some pioneering and trailblazing figures in the women's game. Picture showing the mural artist Jilly Johnson (left), alongside her sister and mum, who'd visited to help Jilly paint..
The artist Jilly Johnston (left) received some welcome support and encouragement from her sister and mum

Local TV crew visit the Foundation

Our local ITV News team paid us a visit during the painting of the mural, you can access the article here. There’s some wonderful footage of Jilly, and Darlington Women’s team players, Toni Upton (Captain) and Martina Cuccunato (Goalkeeper and Foundation Ambassador).

Celebrating Women's Footballing Trailblazers: The Arthur Wharton Foundation's new mural celebrating some pioneering and trailblazing figures in the women's game. Picture showing the mural wall on Drury Street of Jill Scott MBE, current England Footballer, who hails from the North East (Sunderland), a legend with over a 150 caps for England.
England Legend: Jill Scott MBE – on the Drury Street wall of The Arthur Wharton Foundation, Darlington.

Seven Pioneering Trailblazers

Deciding who would appear in the Celebrating Women’s Footballing Trailblazers mural was a difficult process. We ended up with a long list of pioneering trailblazers all worthy of a place on the wall. Eventually, we decided on the following women to include within the mural (from left to right):

  1. Hope Powell CBE – became England Women’s first-ever full-time national coach in 1998 (link to Wikipedia)
  2. Sue Campbell, Baroness Campbell of Loughborough – former Chair of UK Sport. Current Director of Women’s Football at The FA (link to Wikipedia)
  3. Lucy Bronze – current England footballer, who hails from the North East (Berwick-Upon-Tweed). Named The Best FIFA Women’s Player in December 2020. Also shares the same birthday as Arthur Wharton, October 28th (link to Wikipedia)
  4. Jill Scott MBE – current England footballer, who hails from the North East (Sunderland). England debut in 2006, over 150 caps and 27 goals (link to Wikipedia)
  5. Martina Cuccunato – current Darlington FC Women’s team goalkeeper, and a proud Ambassador of the Arthur Wharton Foundation.
  6. Rachel Yankey OBE – Pioneering trailblazer with 129 caps for England (also has Ghanaian heritage like Arthur Wharton). Rachael has played a significant role in supporting the development of the women’s game and the work of the Foundation. (link to Wikipedia)
  7. Lillie Galloway – Footballing pioneer, founded Darlington’s first ever women’s football team in 1925 – known as the Quaker Ladies. (link to PDF)
Celebrating Women's Footballing Trailblazers: The Arthur Wharton Foundation's new mural celebrating some pioneering and trailblazing figures in the women's game. Picture showing the mural taken from Drury Street.
(Left to Right) 1. Hope Powell CBE, 2. Baroness Sue Campbell, 3. Lucy Bronze, 4. Jill Scott MBE & 5. Martina Cuccunato
The Arthur Wharton Foundation's new mural celebrating some pioneering and trailblazing figures in the women's game. Picture showing the mural taken from Widdowfield Street. Rachel Yankee (left) and Lillie Galloway (right)
(Left to Right) 6. Rachel Yankee OBE and 7. Lillie Galloway

Local community involvement

Inviting local women and girls from our community to get involved with the Celebrating Women’s Footballing Trailblazers mural was an absolute joy for us. The highlight was listening to the conversation between the artist Jilly Johnson and children from a local school. They were so inspired by Jilly and the footballing trailblazing women she was painting.

Celebrating Women's Footballing Trailblazers: The Arthur Wharton Foundation's new mural celebrating some pioneering and trailblazing figures in the women's game. Picture showing the mural being painted by pupils and teachers from Reid Street School, Darlington. Girls in conversation with the mural artist, Jilly Johnson.
Jilly Johnston takes a break from painting to talk to girls from Reid Street School, Darlington

Connecting everyone (the present), to the past (the footballing trailblazers in the mural), really helps us explain the history of women’s football.

We were so pleased to welcome Avril Galloway (Lillie’s grand-daughter) down to the Foundation to help paint. Other notable contributors (or should I say ‘artists’), included;

Anne-Marie Curry (current Mayor of Darlington), Cindi Hughes (former Mayor of Darlington), Carol Charlton (Chair of St. Teresa’s Hospice, Darlington), Sajna Ali (Councillor), Lucie Campbell (Shaun’s daughter) and Toni Upton and Martina Cuccunato, (both current Darlington FC Women’s players – Captain / Goalkeeper).

Martina is also an Ambassador for the Foundation and got a BIG surprise when she saw herself in the mural!

  • Celebrating Women's Footballing Trailblazers: The Arthur Wharton Foundation's new mural celebrating some pioneering and trailblazing figures in the women's game. Picture showing the mural being painted by Lillie Galloway's grand-daughter, Avril Galloway.
  • Celebrating Women's Footballing Trailblazers: The Arthur Wharton Foundation's new mural celebrating some pioneering and trailblazing figures in the women's game. Picture showing the mural being painted by Lillie Galloway's grand-daughter, Avril Galloway.
  • Celebrating Women's Footballing Trailblazers: The Arthur Wharton Foundation's new mural celebrating some pioneering and trailblazing figures in the women's game. Picture showing the mural being painted by Toni Upton and Martina Cuccunato, who are being filmed by an ITV Tyne Tees news camera.
  • Celebrating Women's Footballing Trailblazers: The Arthur Wharton Foundation's new mural celebrating some pioneering and trailblazing figures in the women's game. Picture showing the mural being painted by Toni Upton and Martina Cuccunato.
  • Celebrating Women's Footballing Trailblazers: The Arthur Wharton Foundation's new mural celebrating some pioneering and trailblazing figures in the women's game. Picture showing the mural being painted by current Mayor of Darlington, Anne-Marie Curry.
  • Celebrating Women's Footballing Trailblazers: The Arthur Wharton Foundation's new mural celebrating some pioneering and trailblazing figures in the women's game. Picture showing the mural being painted by former Darlington Mayor (Cyndi Hughes) and Carol Charlton (Chair of St Teresa's Hospice Darlington)
  • Celebrating Women's Footballing Trailblazers: The Arthur Wharton Foundation's new mural celebrating some pioneering and trailblazing figures in the women's game. Picture showing the mural being painted by local Councillor and supporter of the Foundation, Sajna Ali.
  • Celebrating Women's Footballing Trailblazers: The Arthur Wharton Foundation's new mural celebrating some pioneering and trailblazing figures in the women's game. Picture showing the mural being painted by Lucie Campbell.

Time to support and celebrate women’s football

Sadly 100 years on from the ban, many of the deeply ingrained misogynistic attitudes the cartoonist (Pip) captured in the 1927 newspaper article referenced earlier – still exist today.

Women footballers are on the receiving end of near daily sexist, misogynistic and threatening online and offline abuse. Why? Surely, those men responsible for this abuse can’t feel threatened by women’s football, like the men in positions of power and authority did 100 years ago?

Stop the Hate

Football has a huge role to play in having a broader impact on societies perceptions on equality. Women’s football is the single biggest growth opportunity in football today. Those men that feel threatened, need to rest easy that the game is big enough for EVERYONE to enjoy. Time for them to stop the hate and start supporting women and girls football.

Can you believe that when the original Wembley Stadium opened it’s doors in April 1923, women were banned from playing there! Since then, women have empowered themselves to get to this position, to strive forward, over and around many barriers placed in their way.

Proud to support women’s football

The Arthur Wharton Foundation is extremely proud of this mural and what it represents. This coming season the Foundation will continue to sponsor three of the Darlington FC Women’s players.

We will continue to support and champion women’s football and help build a better, more inclusive game that we can all enjoy together.

Celebrating Women's Footballing Trailblazers: The Arthur Wharton Foundation's new mural celebrating some pioneering and trailblazing figures in the women's game. Picture showing the mural being painted by pupils from Reid Street School, Darlington.
Pupils from Reid Street School, Darlington – get involved in painting the mural

Bring it home Lionesses

Our incredibly skilled, talented and inspiring Lionesses are doing themselves, their families, their country and those pioneering trailblazing women that came before them proud. Unfortunately Pip (our cartoonist friend from 1927) isn’t around to watch this Sunday’s final, imagine if he was?

The mural can be seen on the exterior walls of our Foundation HQ in Darlington, County Durham. It will remain on the wall until the end of October 2022 – so plenty of time for you to come and visit!

The mural is already a very important resource for the us – as we welcome many; groups, organisations, businesses, and schools to the Foundation.

Thanks for reading. Bring it home Lionesses.

Some Useful ‘Extra Time’ Resources

The FA – History of Women’s Football in England (website)

Suzanne Wrack’s book: A Woman’s Game: The Rise, Fall, and Rise Again of Women’s Football (Amazon)

Suzanne Wrack article in the Guardian (Jun 13, 2022): How the FA banned women’s football in 1921 and tried to justify it

Carrie Dunn’s book: ‘Unsuitable for Females’: The Rise of the Lionesses and Women’s Football in England (Amazon)

Women’s & Girls’ Football – Get Involved

It’s really important that the success of the Lionesses this summer encourages a new generation of girls and women to participate in football.

England Football has a fantastic website, which provides information on all the ways to get involved in football. From playing to watching to coaching and refereeing.

Support the Foundation

Whilst you are here, why not find out a little more how you could support the Foundation?

James Charlton (1995-2022)

Quaker Hat | Love Heart | Football | Referee Whistle

Blog post by Shaun Campbell (3 minute read)

Remembering James Charlton

On Wednesday 16th February 2022, I attended the funeral at St Augustine’s Church, Darlington, of James Charlton, who passed away aged only 26. James was a pillar of the community, and for one so young, that says a lot!

I was also honoured to be asked to be part of the team of musicians who came together to play and sing the hymns for the service.

James was a remarkable young man who did so much for the community, particularly for Darlington Football Club. In 2012, Darlington FC went into administration and at that time, I was a member of the rescue group that eventually got the team out of their dire situation. I can remember all too well, the huge effort that James put in as a young volunteer to help raise much needed cash for the club. It was a sterling effort in every sense of the word!

I came to learn so much more about James when Peter Barron read out his eulogy and it was at that moment when I realised why there was a person present wearing an FA Referee top.

Meeting the referee

Following the funeral, I went to the wake in the parish centre and introduced myself to the person wearing the said referee top – his name was Charles Stephenson. I introduced myself to him and following an initial chat about James, football etc, he was shocked to realise that I was ’The Wharton guy’ (a term often applied to me for some reason). Charles went on to say that he wears an Arthur Wharton T shirt and was very interested in the work we do as a Foundation.  Upon realising that the Foundation was only a short 5 minute drive away, Charles was extremely keen to visit, and so, we took him there and hosted him.

The Foundation were very proud to be able to add a tribute to James next to our recently installed Darlington Football Club Quaker crest.

The Quakers mural and James Charlton tribute – on the wall of the Arthur Wharton Foundation

Below, is a written piece we received from Charles, informing us of how he knew James and the special regard that he had for him.

Friend of James’s – Charles Stephenson

I first met James around 5 years ago in London at the Camden and Islington Youth Football League Market Road. As a well-seasoned referee on the league for last 10 years I was gob smacked to see a young referee full of beans and on the ball. Always immaculately dressed for the occasion, I as well as the kids thought James was a professional referee from up north who just came down to referee a few games in between lectures as he was a full-time student.

Back to Darlington to say goodbye

Little did I know 5 years later the impact James would leave behind as well as the long-lasting impact on the league and myself as a referee. Over 20 years ago I left London as a spring chicken at 17 on a train to Darlington as I had signed up to join the British Army. So coming back to say my final goodbye to Darlington’s’ local superhero was an absolute pleasure. I had the opportunity to meet members of the community that spoke highly of James. Meeting the referee that trained James when he was 15 was wonderful.

Arthur Wharton t-shirt

Also had the pleasure of meeting Shaun Campbell, from the Arthur Wharton Foundation. Shaun, kindly took time out of his busy schedule to give me a guided tour of the Foundation’s HQ, celebrating a true iconic sportsman. Coincidently I own an Arthur Wharton t-shirt which I wear proudly! It was great to meet Shaun and Danny from the Foundation, and I was so impressed with the great work they are doing to ensure Arthur’s legacy is known worldwide.

Regards, Charles Stephenson

A proud supporter of the Arthur Wharton Foundation.

A day of celebration and remembrance

From everyone at the Arthur Wharton Foundation, our love and thoughts are with James’s family, friends, and colleagues.

James Charlton (1995-2022)

Clickety Clickety Click

clickety clickety click of the ellisons turnstile at the arthur wharton foundation in darlington. the arthur wharton statue and bottles of gin and rum on display from the little quaker distillery
Clickety Clickety Click – Ellison’s turnstile on display at The Arthur Wharton Foundation, Darlington

Historic Turnstile Saved

The ‘Clickety Clickety Click’ of a turnstile was (and still is) a sound that many football fans around the world have etched in their footballing memories. This unique sound created from the mechanical workings of the turnstile only added to the nervous pre-match suspense. I have many a fond memory of queuing up at football grounds all over the country, the air buzzing with excitement and filled with the ‘clickety clickety click’ of the Ellison’s turnstile in full flow.

It was therefore with great excitement that between Christmas and New Year 2021, we welcomed an amazing piece of Darlington Football Club history down at the Foundation. The original turnstile from the East Stand, Feethams was saved from being scrapped by Paul Colman and Craig Morley. We’re very excited to have this incredible piece of DFC and footballing history on display at the Foundation.

We’ve done a little research into the turnstile and it’s absolutely fascinating what we’ve discovered. Go on have a read of below! 

rodney dale, danny howes, craig morley, paul colman and shaun campbell stand behind the ellisons rush preventative turnstile on display at the arthur wharton foundation in darlington clickety clickety click
A very heavy turnstile that took five of us to shift it!
(L to R – Rodney Dale, Danny Howes, Craig Morley, Paul Colman and the Arthur Wharton Foundation’s Founder, Shaun Campbell)

Sport mad Victorian Britain

Before the installation of turnstiles, spectators would congregate en masse and enter venues via simple gates. Often the men operating the gates were unable to keep track of how many spectators had entered the grounds. As a result, many also pocketed the money paid without counting the spectator. As the numbers of people wishing to attend Victorian sporting events increased. This led to unsafe overcrowding and improvements to venue access and admittance reporting was required.

Rush Preventive Turnstile

The majority of turnstiles installed from 1890 to 1960 at British sporting venues and areas requiring mass public access, were those manufactured by W.T Ellison & Co of Irlams O’Th’Height, Pendleton, Salford. The patent in England for the ‘Rush Preventive Turnstile’ No. 3,225 was filed on 19th February 1892 by William Thomas Ellison Jr of Salford and James Unsworth Jr of Manchester. The US patent application was filed on February 17, 1893. Serial No. 462,799. You can access the US Patent here  – a really interesting document.

ellisons rush preventative turnstile diagram of American patent filed in 1893 clickety clickety click
Diagram taken from the US Patent submitted in 1893 – nearly a year after the initial patent was submitted in England (No. 3,225)

Tamper proof mechanisms

One of the key features which made Ellison’s turnstile unique and placed it ahead of its competitors was a foot pedal. It allowed the operator to lock and unlock the turnstile as each spectator passed through, allowing one admittance at a time. Also, the product was cleverly advertised as ‘rush preventive’ – therefore much safer and accurate in monitoring admittance against venue capacity.

Ellison’s turnstile was developed to include the first ever safety counting system. This tamper proof brass mechanism contained ceramic counters which allowed officials to accurately reconcile gate receipts to attendance. We are unsure if the Darlington FC turnstile has the counter installed underneath the brass plate. We cannot wait to investigate!

Wembley Stadium 100 Ellison turnstiles

The Ellison turnstile originally sold for just over £7, quite an investment at the time. However, it will have quickly been recouped in previously ‘pocketed’ gate monies. Sadly Ellison’s ceased trading in 1963. One of the reasons cited was due to the turnstile being so well made and durable, that they rarely went wrong or broke!

FACT: Ellison’s ‘rush preventive turnstile’ was designed to admit 4,000 per hour (or 3,000 if change was given).

Online references can be found to Ellison’s turnstiles being installed at the grounds of; Exeter City, Liverpool, Wolverhampton Wanderers, Plymouth Argyle, Halifax Town, Newcastle United, Manchester City/United (Maine Road & Old Trafford) and Middlesbrough (Ayresome Park).

FACT: The turnstile now on display at the Foundation was installed at Feethams in 1920

In 1923 Ellison’s fabricated and installed 100 turnstiles at London’s Wembley Stadium (formerly the Empire Stadium). One is on display at the National Football Museum in Manchester. You can read that article here.

FACT: Ellison also made a fortune using the same mechanism for penny slots for public toilets, hence the phrase ‘to spend a penny’.

Come and visit us in Darlington

Hope you have enjoyed reading a little more about the Ellison turnstile? Please do share with us any memories you have of going through / under / over an Ellison’s turnstile! Can you remember the ‘Clickety Clickety Click’ of an Ellison turnstile?

If you would like to pop down to see the turnstile and also some of the other DFC memorabilia we have on display (which is kindly on loan to us from DFCSG), please drop us an email at info@arthurwhartonfoundation.org or contact us via our social channels.

We’ll shortly be announcing some open door events for anyone wishing to visit the Foundation.   

Read more about the turnstile in a Northern Echo article that was published in last week’s Northern Echo. Thanks to Bill Edgar for writing the article and Sarah Caldecott for her ace pictures.

Massive thanks again to Paul Colman – co owner of The Little Quaker Distillery in Darlington. Check out the website to have a peek at the amazing hand crafted Gin’s and Rum’s that have been lovingly created. The Black Diamond Rum is incredible.

Support the Foundation

Whilst you are here, why not find out a little more how you could support the Foundation?

Sheila Leeson (1931-2021)

Sheila Leeson with the statue of Arthur Wharton – Wembley Stadium, 29 March 2011

Blog post by Shaun Campbell (5 minute read)

A day of celebration and remembrance

Sheila Leeson (1931-2021). A poignant day today as I head to Rotherham for the funeral of our Patron, Sheila Leeson. Remembrance Day, from this day forward, will have an added significance for us all at the Foundation.

I can remember when I first spoke to Sheila, it was by phone and I was simply introducing myself…and of course letting her know what my intentions were regarding the campaign I’d started, to see her relative ‘Arthur Wharton’ appropriately honoured for his achievements as a pioneer & a trailblazer, it was a lovely phone call.

Needless to say, we stayed in touch, and when I set up the Arthur Wharton Foundation in 2010, Sheila became a Patron.

Memories from Wembley

In 2011, the England football team played Ghana in an international friendly match at Wembley and this was the first time that the two teams had played against each at senior level. In partnership with the FA , the Foundation ensured that the game would recognise Arthur and his place in football history. Sheila was so happy that day and at one point, pitch side, Sheila grated my arm and said in a louder than normal voice ‘there’s Michael Essien’ (she was excited to see him, though he wasn’t playing that day)-  I asked if she wanted to speak with him and she said yes…so I called him over and they had a lovely chat pre kick off. I will never forget that look on Sheila’s face when Essien beamed a huge, welcoming smile at her and they talked…about Arthur of course! Watching this video footage of Sheila being interviewed on the pitch at Wembley Stadium brings back some wonderful memories.

On the pitch at Wembley Stadium (England v Ghana) – 23rd March 2011

Meeting family in Ghana

Sheila had always dreamed of going to Ghana one day…to Arthur’s roots (and hers). Ill health in her 70’s and early 80’s looked likely to end that dream as Sheila had a major operation. However, I just had to create an opportunity to try and realise a dream for Sheila and at the same time, introduce and unite Arthur’s UK family with his family in Ghana.  I was determined to get Sheila there…and so we did…we actually went, and oh my, what a journey, what a trip, what memories, and most importantly…a dream realised for Sheila, the matriarch of Arthur’s UK family, and the guardian of Arthur’s story.

Sheila and Dorothy meeting their Ghanaian family

Reunited with the cups

I had spoken with Sheila a number of times about wanting to find the two historic cups, photographed with Arthur.  They were the ‘Cleveland Challenge Cup (1887), & the Prince Hassan Pacha Cup (1886). Eventually, I managed to unearth them both from obscurity (don’t ask!) and had the absolute pleasure, and honour, of presenting them to Sheila (on separate occasions as they were found years apart). It was so special for Sheila to take hold of the very cups that Arthur had held all of those years ago…I know she was deeply moved to be so in touch with Arthur’s past in such a tangible way.

Support for the statue

During the course of the campaign and through the early years of the Foundation, I kept Sheila up to speed with my thinking, and with progress (or not) of my quest to see Arthur recognised in the form of an iconic statue at a then unknown location. She was always supportive…no matter how crazy I must have sounded at times, and she listened when I explained just how tough it was to break down barriers in order to get the right people to do the right thing by Arthur. She knew it was taking its toll on me personally too, but was always there offering encouragement and to reassure me.  

Honoured in colour

Our work at the Arthur Wharton Foundation continues and we very much look forward to honouring Sheila, in our own unique and colourful way. We very much look forward to sharing details about this with you shortly and how you can get involved.

Sheila was a great woman at peace and at rest, we will miss her, but we will forever remember her.

Today our love and thoughts are with Sheila’s family and friends.

Sheila Leeson (1931-2021)


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.

Arthur Wharton Foundation Celebration

Blog post by Shaun Campbell (5 minute read) – Saturday 3rd July 2021

Arthur Wharton World Record

Today marks the 135th anniversary of a remarkable day in history.

On 3rd July, 1886, Arthur Wharton became the worlds first official fastest man on the planet. The 100 yard World Record was set which stood for over 30 years.

The Arthur Wharton Foundation Celebration Video is in commemoration of that historic day.

The video is introduced by way of a short video to the first verse of ‘Song for Arthur’, written by James ‘Jimmy Blue’ Emmerson, from Darlington.

Produced by yours truly, sung by the great Ruby Turner MBE and accompanied by Jazz Pianist Dean Stockdale (also from Darlington), the music and lyrics are set against the back drop of the filming of the now iconic Mural of Arthur Wharton in Darlington.  This video production was kindly put together for us, by our friends and allies, at BT Sport.

So Remember The Name:   “ARTHUR WHARTON”

World Record at Stamford Bridge

Competing under the banner of Darlington Cricket Club, Arthur travelled to Stamford Bridge, London (now historic home to Chelsea Football Club) to compete in the AAA National Championships. He won his 100yds heat by six yards and only half an hour later, in front of 2000 people, lined up for the final.

He won by a yard from Charles Wood who was half a yard in front of Frank Richie. By reaching the tape first the Arthur Wharton secured the Prince Hassan Cup worth £50, first presented in 1871. Arthur’s winning time of 10 seconds made him the talking point of the day. Incredible that this time had been achieved in BOTH heat and final – on the same afternoon – added further stature to this speed phenomenon.

A contemporary report helps us capture what was seen as an exotic and fantastic occasion on account of Arthur’s participation. Although it self-consciously respects Arthur’s “otherness” it at the same time illustrates the growing (and sadly continuing) habit of assuming different physiological attributes in people of colour.

Wharton is a gentleman from very sunny climes, and by no means a representative Englishman in appearance. If not a champion to look at, he is an extremely good one to go, and his colonial exhibition is very fine … he has a long, low stride, he does not seem to get on his toes in the style to which we are accustomed. I make some allowance for optical illusion, because on Saturday he wore untanned or unblacked [shoes] … of a brown some shades lighter than his complexion. These arrangements in colour caused the observer who was not very sharp to believe that the man was running barefoot, whereas he had merely fitted himself with nearly flesh-coloured pumps … His style of running is associated with men of colour, who as a rule have a good deal of heel. Wharton is a brunette of pronounced complexion …

source: Darlington and Stockton Times, 17th July 1886

Arthur Wharton - black and white photo
Arthur Wharton – Fastest man in the World

The Prince Hassan Pacha Cup

For a number of years this revered, now iconic trophy remained hidden in the basement of an athletics official. I remember the very day when I found that historic Prince Hassan Pacha Cup which Arthur won in 1886, and again in 1887. It was a ‘hallelujah’ moment. It was deeply touching on an emotional level…because it also brought me personally closer to the great man himself.

It was a great find of an incredibly important piece of sporting history, not just for the Foundation, but also for England Athletics, the AAA and the IAAF. 

In partnership with the Foundation, England Athletics announced this great find at their annual Hall of Fame Awards 2015, and invited me to speak on this very poignant, and significant occasion. There, behind me, on stage, was the very cup itself.

Historic winners followed Arthur

Emblazoned upon it, alongside Arthur’s name, were the names of all of those that had won it since, including; Linford Christie, Don Quarry, Alan Wells, Reggie Walker, Harold Abrams and Eric Liddle  (the latter two of the film Chariots of Fire) – distinguished company indeed!

To find out more about all of those historic winners of the AAA and National Championship Medallists, in the 100 yards / 100 metres, you can visit National Union of Track Statisticians or this great article Arthur Wharton: First and fastest – written by Chris Lloyd, Northern Echo.

Usain Bolt connects to Arthur Wharton

In 2019, I had the great honour to connect Usain Bolt to this historic trophy, in a meeting at Chelsea Harbour Hotel, London. To see Usain Bolt holding the very same trophy that Arthur Wharton held, was a very special moment. Connecting the current 100m/200m World Record holder (Usain) and the first 100yd World Record holder (Arthur), through the trophy, is another example of the Foundation’s motto….“Connect the Present, to the Past, for the Future”.

Usain Bolt and Shaun Campbell – Arthur Wharton #1

Enjoyed this post?

Please keep an eye out for more blog posts about Arthur Wharton and do let us know what you think. Also, if you are feeling charitable, please do visit our Just Giving page to donate to our building renovation appeal fund. Any donation would be greatly appreciated.

Ghana Independence Day 2021


Blog post written by Shaun Campbell (2 minute read)

Well, its been quite a week preparing and realising the Ghana Independence Day celebration (6th March) Mural at our Foundation building.

For me, and for the ethos of what we do, this is an important day to recognise and to celebrate, as it is through the legacy of Arthur Wharton, that Darlington is forever twinned with Jamestown Accra, Ghana.

Jamestown, Accra is where Arthur Wharton was born and it was Darlington where Arthur made his name…and where he was thought of with great affection and respect. It was the people of Darlington who embraced Arthur, and sang a song ‘Wharton of Darlington’, when he returned to the club after a spell away playing for another club.

The Arthur Wharton Mural on Ghana Independence Day 2021

Aside from celebrating Arthur, there are many other dates to celebrate in a similar way – for example, the anniversary of his playing for Darlington FC – these same walls will be adorned by this history in July. We are so looking forward to this particular celebration as it marks the beginning of Arthur’s time in Darlington (1883).

July also marks the historic achievement of Arthur (running for Darlington) becoming the worlds first official fastest man on the planet, recording a time of 10 seconds dead for the 100 yds (now metres) in 1886.

Other historic & significant dates in the history of Darlington will also be celebrated  – Cummins, Cleveland Bridge, and the Railway included. We see these walls as an opportunity to educate, inspire, motivate, and enhance the area within which we reside. And so, the walls of the Foundation will constantly change, they will be a revolving reminder of the history of Darlington and its legacy to us, and the rest of the world.

Arthur Wharton – 23rd February 1895

Match details – sourced from the excellent The Stat Cat website

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!

Enjoyed this post? Please keep an eye out for more blog posts about Arthur Wharton and do let us know what you think. Also, if you are feeling charitable, please do visit our Just Giving page to donate to our building renovation appeal fund. Any donation would be greatly appreciated.

Thank You and Stay Safe.

Sources :

Mural Mural on the Wall

Blog Post written by Danny Howes (5 minute read)

Can you believe it? Only three months has passed since world famous mural artist Jay Kaes and a crew from BT Sport arrived in Darlington to film the painting of the Arthur ‘Kwame’ Wharton mural. Time has flown by and sadly due to Covid, many people have been unable to travel to Darlington to see the mural up close. Fingers crossed that ‘lockdown 3.0’ will be the last and we can all work on finding out what our ‘new normals’ look like.

Those visitors who have been fortunate enough to get up close to the mural, have been blown away by it. Many of them (young and old) ask us a number of similar questions. These include; how did BT Sport get involved, who was the artist and how long did it take?

So, I thought I’d use this blog post to answer some of these common questions, enjoy the read…oh and please do let us know if you have any more questions / comments / thoughts / observations (we love questions and feedback)!

  • How did BT Sport get involved?

Towards the end of September 2020, I connected with colleagues in the BT Digital Diversity and Inclusion Guild. Black History Month was due to start at the beginning of October and I knew the Arthur Wharton story would be of interest to my colleagues. So, I contacted Shaun Campbell to ask if he would be interested in meeting up. After a couple of Tweets and a phone call, Shaun invited me down to the Foundation HQ in Widdowfield Street, Darlington. On Friday 25th September, I popped down to meet Shaun (thinking I’d be there for 30 minutes). I was there for 5.5 hours! Over the years our local newspaper (the Northern Echo), had covered Arthur Wharton extensively. However, what Shaun shared left me astonished. His passion and enthusiasm, was also so inspiring and infectious. I wanted to help in anyway I could, to share Arthur’s story with everyone.

We recognised immediately that an organisation like BT and the (immensely) talented folks at BT Sport, would jump at the chance to support the Foundation. One idea that Shaun had was the painting of a mural on the gable end of the house on Drury Street, which opens up into a large yard at the side of the Foundation.

So, that weekend I pulled together a few slides about Arthur and the opportunities where BT and BT Sport could get involved. One of the pictures I shared was a picture of the yard wall, photoshopped with an old image of Arthur. This along with a few video calls and emails, sealed the deal! All senior managers were 100% behind the proposals. BT Sport understood it’s historical importance and significance.

In the space of two weeks BT Sport had mobilised a production team to travel to Darlington to paint the mural and record the process, which would be a key part of their ‘Black History Month: a Celebration’ programming. All of which would be unveiled and broadcast on 28 October 2020 – which was the 155th anniversary of Arthur Wharton’s birth in 1865.

The photoshop image which was shared with BT and BT Sport
  • Who was the artist?

The mural’s artist was Jay Kaes. He is Spanish, but now lives in London. It was Jay’s first (and hopefully not last) visit to Darlington. The BT Sport Creative team had a really clear brief of what they were looking for from a mural artist and settled on Jay Kaes. BT Sport and the artist worked closely with the Foundation throughout the design process.

Jay Kaes did an amazing job. To witness the proposed design transform from a WhatsApp image into a mural was fascinating. Please do check out his website here. His portfolio of work, all around the world, is incredible – he even has prints available to hang at home in his online shop.

Jay even spent a few hours of his time before he left for London, to paint a one-off triptych for the Foundation in a similar style to the mural. We cannot wait to get these framed and on display in Widdowfield Street. We love it.

  • How long did it take?

This is a very popular question! Jay Kaes and the BT Sport team arrived in Darlington on the afternoon of Saturday 17th October. Jay needed to get up onto the roof of the Foundation that evening, to project and sketch out the mural design onto the wall. In typical Darlington fashion, the heavens opened and gave us all a soaking. Jay worked quickly and was able to sketched out the mural in less than 3 hours. Everything was now ready for two full days of painting, on the Sunday and Monday. Everything went to plan. So all done in less than 2.5 days AND within 25 days of me first meeting Shaun.  

  • What does it represent?

The mural perfectly encapsulates Arthur Wharton through Jay Kaes technological style. A wonderful mix of photo realism and Jay’s contemporary art style. From the black and white stripes (representing Newcastle and Darlington), to the colourful ‘Kente’ cloth, to the Cleveland Challenge and Prince Hassan Cups (which Arthur won whilst living in Darlington), to the Ghanaian flag references (black star and colours), finally, to the bold white line that flows behind Arthur (representing Arthur’s power and ‘Trailblazing’ life).  

  • What does the Foundation think of the mural?

Pleased is an understatement…..! Honestly, a day doesn’t go by, without Shaun or I pinching ourselves that this mural actually happened. We are so proud of what BT Sport and Jay Kaes have done for the Foundation, in creating a fitting, permanent memorial and tribute to Arthur, in Darlington. Many visitors also ask what ‘Kwame’ means. The name Kwame is a boy’s name of African origin meaning “born on a Saturday”. Doing this was so important to the Foundation – a very powerful message and recognition of Arthur’s Ghanaian heritage.

  • When can I come and see it?

Due to current lockdown restrictions we are unable to grant access to the Foundation. When it is safe to do so, we will be opening the doors to give as many people access to the mural. Please do keep an eye out on our social channels and website for details. We really look forward to welcoming you!

  • Did Shaun Campbell or I paint it?

Absolutely not – it was all Jay Kaes work (although I do reckon Shaun has told a few people that he did it)! Whilst Jay was doing his thing, Shaun was busy painting the front of the Foundation white and I was busy pointing and painting the yard walls grey!


I do hope you have found this post of interest. Being part of the mural and supporting the Foundation are memories I will treasure forever. Even whilst having to adhere to social distancing measures, we were able to laugh and enjoy what we were doing. It involved some very long days, some very dry hands and lots of cups of coffee. Many local residents dropped off some of the finest Sri Lankan and Bangladeshi food for Shaun and I. We even had a surprise visit from the local constabulary, who gave us a fright of our lives as a van load turned up after a long day of painting!

Darlington Police paid us a surprise visit

The mural looks as fresh today as it did on the day it was painted – sharp, vibrant and meaningful. So, we can’t wait for more people to be able to see it up close. Until this time, stay safe and well.

Finally just wanted to add that we have a little saying down at the Foundation, which is: ‘Connecting the Present, to the Past for the Future’. We think that the mural does this perfectly – an amazing fusion of; Black History, Arthur Wharton and Art.

Thanks again to the team at BT Sport and artist Jay Kaes. The Foundation would also like to wish Jay Kaes a very Happy Birthday (19th January)!

If you have enjoyed reading this, then please check out these UK Street Art & Graffiti articles about the mural.

arthur wharton – MUSIC #1

Arthur Wharton

Blog post by Danny Howes – Saturday 12th December 2020

We have a special treat for you, on what has been a memorable day spent commemorating the 90th Anniversary of Arthur Wharton’s death in 1930.

A Musical Film: featuring ‘Arthur Wharton #1’s’ from a number of celebrated people from the music industry, including; Gregory Porter, Trevor Nelson, DJ Spoony, Ruby Turner, Eric Bibb, Christian Varela, Fekky, Firmz….and more!

Lyrics were written by James (‘Jimmy Blue’) Emmerson. Music by Steve Cropper (Booker T & The MG’s). Film produced by Robert Reeves.

The Arthur Wharton Foundation would like to thank everyone for their incredible contributions in making this amazing film. Shaun has played this music track to me so many times down at the Foundation, and to see this film for the first time today was very special indeed. We hope you enjoy it. We love it.

If watching this film makes you as happy as it makes both Shaun and I, how about visiting our new Just Giving campaign page that we have just launched, for much needed building refurbishment funds? Any donation would be gratefully received and help us with the many things that need attention, down at the Foundation in Darlington.

So turn up the volume, have a little boogie and even make a donation? Enjoy.

Arthur Wharton #1