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Statue of footballing pioneer presented to PFA
SPORTING ICON: Shaun Campbell presents a statue of Arthur Wharton to PFA chief executive Gordon Taylor
THE work of a North-East foundation aimed at furthering the reputation of a footballing pioneer has received a boost from the professional players’ union.
Shaun Campbell, founder of the Arthur Wharton Foundation, presented a bronze statue of the world’s first black professional footballer to Gordon Taylor, chief executive of the Professional Footballers’ Association (PFA).
Wharton, who was born in Ghana, was both a goalkeeper and an outfield player and appeared for Darlington FC in the late 19th Century.
The Darlington-based foundation has previously presented statues to FIFA president Sepp Blatter and Fred Crentsil, chairman of the Ghanaian FA.
Mr Campbell handed over the statue on Monday (October 28), the 148th anniversary of Wharton’s birth.
The foundation will, in return, received an undisclosed financial donation from the PFA.
Mr Campbell is hoping to see October 28 designated as Arthur Wharton Day and also has plans for a full-sized permanent statue of Wharton in Darlington.
Mr Campbell said: “The PFA will make a donation to the foundation for the continuation of our work and it will look forward to using the statue symbolically at a forthcoming event.
“It was a wonderful thing for the PFA to do on Arthur’s birthday.
“This followed a phone call from Gordon Taylor on Arthur’s birthday last year, when we were in Ghana for a memorial match in Jamestown, where Arthur was born.”
Wharton, who grew up in Ghana, was an amateur keeper for Darlington in 1885 before signing professionally for Preston North End.
Mr Campbell was heavily involved in a campaign to preserve the site of the former Feethams ground, home of Darlington FC between 1883 and 2003.
Earlier this month, he and fellow campaigner Doug Embleton wrote to attorney general Dominic Grieve, to question the validity of the sale of the land. They have yet to receive a reply.
He also raised concerns following the demolition of crumbling brick towers which stood at the entrance to the ground.
They were demolished earlier this month as part of preliminary work on a future housing development.
The Northern Echo understands replicas of the towers will be recreated, using new materials, as part of planning conditions for the development, which is still in the very early stages.
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