Darlington building is defaced with racist graffiti
18th July 2021

Building dedicated to first ever black professional footballer Arthur Wharton is defaced with racist graffiti in Darlington

  • Arthur Wharton Foundation was defaced with vile racism that has been removed
  • Wharton became the first black professional footballer in the world in 1885
  • Vandalism comes after black England players bombarded with racist abuse 

A foundation dedicated to the first ever black professional footballer has been vandalised with racist graffiti.

The Arthur Wharton Foundation on Widdowfield Street, in Darlington, County Durham, was covered with anti-immigrant sentiment on Saturday. 

Arthur Wharton became the first black professional footballer in the world when he played as a goalkeeper for Darlington Football Club in 1885. He was later selected to play with the more prestigious Newcastle and District team.

The vandalism comes after England players Rashford, Jadon Sancho and Bukayo Saka were bombarded by racist abuse on social media following the Euro 2020 final defeat to Italy.

A tribute to Marcus Rashford on the wall of the Coffee House Cafe in his home town of Withington, Manchester, was defaced in what is being investigated by police as a possible ‘hate crime’. 

One of the messages sprayed onto the wall read ‘we do not stand with the 3 Black Lions’

The Arthur Wharton Foundation on Widdowfield Street, in Darlington, County Durham, was defaced with vile racism which has since been removed

Before: The mural is dedicated to Marcus Rashford, Jadon Sancho and Bukayo Saka, who were bombarded by racist abuse on social media following the Euro 2020 final defeat to Italy

One of the messages sprayed onto the wall read ‘we do not stand with the 3 Black Lions’.

Hundreds of people have taken to social media to condemn the graffiti. Darlington MP Peter Gibson said: ‘The Arthur Wharton Foundation has done much to promote understanding of the contribution of black footballers throughout our history.

‘I am appalled by the vandalism, and the racism of that has been daubed on the murals.

‘Our town is an open welcoming place to all people. Those responsible for this graffiti should be identified and punished.

Arthur Wharton (pictured above_ became the first black professional footballer in the world when he played as a goalkeeper for Darlington Football Club in 1885. Pictured, Sancho

Crowds gathered at the mural of Marcus Rashford which was repainted after being daubed with ‘racist’ graffiti in the wake of his Euro 2020 penalty heartache

‘If you have information please contact the police on 101 or contact Crimestoppers anonymously.’ 

A spokeswoman for Durham Constabulary said: ‘Officers are investigating following reports of damage to the Arthur Wharton mural, in Darlington, overnight on Friday, July 16. Enquiries are ongoing.

‘Anyone with any information is asked to contact Durham Constabulary on 101, quoting incident reference 129 of July 17.’

Earlier this week crowds gathered at the mural of Rashford after it was repainted because of ‘racist’ graffiti in the wake of his Euro 2020 penalty heartache.  

Further graffiti said ‘f**k Sancho’ in reference to Three Lions teammate Sancho who also missed a penalty during the shoot-out.

Residents wasted little time in rushing to cover up the abuse with hundreds of positive notes and messages praising the England star – including terms such as ‘hero’, ‘inspiration’ and ‘role model’.  

One touching message read: ‘I can take or leave football but I cannot take or leave people like you. Thank you for your passion, compassion and desire to change lives.’

Another said: ‘Dear Marcus, please know that you are so admired and people find you an inspiration.’  

The first black professional footballer, the first official fastest man, a professional cricketer and a rugby player: Who was Arthur Wharton? 

Arthur Wharton was born in Ghana before moving to Darlington in the UK in 1883, when he was just 18 years old.

At Darlington Football Club, where he was selected to be a goalkeeper, he was described as ‘magnificent’, ‘invincible’ and ‘superb’.

He was selected for the prestigious Newcastle and District team during the 1885-6 season. 


Arthur Wharton (pictured) was born in Ghana before moving to Darlington in the UK in 1883, when he was just 18 years old

He joined Preston North End as an amateur before being part of the team that reached the FA Cup semi-finals in 1996-87.

He left Preston in 1888 to concentrate on his running. On July 3, 1886, he became the first sprinter to run 100 yards in 10 seconds in authentic championship conditions.  

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