A new perspective on the lives, careers and experiences of groundbreaking black footballers in England.


Ninety-two chapters tell the unique stories of the first black footballers to play for each of the English Football League clubs. Four years of original research have not only identified each of these history makers for the first time in a definitive and permanent record. They have also uncovered a wealth of fascinating, often eye-opening personal tales, which now comprise a collection of rich and hugely varied short stories.


The stories span the period from Arthur Wharton’s debut for Sheffield United in 1885 to Forest Green fielding six black players in their first league game in 2017, covering over 130 years of social history.


Includes personal interviews with many first black players – Chris Kamara, Viv Anderson, Tony Ford, Neville Chamberlain, Roland Butcher, Tony Cunningham and Carl Valentine, to name but a few – along with countless family members of players from the more distant past.


Football’s Black Pioneers features an incredible variety of emotive human stories and forgotten characters, together with a powerful theme of struggle against now-unthinkable attitudes, and the revelation of many unexpected historical facts.

Football’s Black Pioneers