Walter Tull
(1888-1918)

Died aged 29

Walter Daniel John Tull (28 April 1888 – 25 March 1918) was an English professional footballer who played as an inside forward for Tottenham Hotspur and Northampton Town. He was the third person of mixed heritage to play in the top division of the Football League, after Arthur Wharton of Sheffield United and Billy Clarke of Aston Villa. His professional football career began after he was spotted playing for top amateur club, Clapton. He had signed for Clapton in October 1908, reportedly never playing in a losing side. By the end of the season he had won winners' medals in the FA Amateur Cup, London County Amateur Cup and London Senior Cup. In March 1909 the Football Star called him "the catch of the season". From the age of 9, Tull was brought up in the (Methodist) Children's Home and Orphanage (now known as Action for Children) in Bethnal Green, London, along with his brother, Edward, following the death of their parents. He joined Tottenham in the summer of 1909. His first senior games were in Argentina and Uruguay on the club's close season tour to South America. He made his home Football League debut against FA Cup holders, Manchester United, in front of over 30,000. His excellent form in this opening part of the season promised a great future. However, at a match away to Bristol City in October 1909 Tull was the target of vicious racist abuse. So incensed was the 'Football Star' reporter, DD, that his match report was headlined 'Football and the Colour Prejudice'. This is possibly the first time racial abuse was headlined in a football report. DD was keen to emphasis how Tull remained professional and composed despite the intense provocation. 'He is Hotspur's most brainy forward ... so clean in mind and method as to be a model for all white men who play football ... Tull was the best forward on the field'. However, soon after he was soon dropped from the first team and found it difficult to get a sustained run back in the side in which he started so well. He played most of his subsequent games for the reserves and was eventually transferred to Herbert Chapman's Northampton Town in 1911, where he made 111 first-team appearances. Interestingly, Chapman - also a Methodist - was a former Spurs player and had played as a young man with Arthur Wharton at Stalybridge Rovers. He went on to manage both Huddersfield Town and Arsenal to FA Cup wins and League championships and is recognised as one of the great managers in the history of the Football League. During the First World War, Tull served in the Footballers' Battalion of the Middlesex Regiment, and fought in the Battle of the Somme in 1916. He was commissioned as a Second Lieutenant on 30 May 1917. Tull fought in Italy in 1917–18, and was mentioned in dispatches for "gallantry and coolness" while leading his company of 26 men on a raiding party into enemy territory. He returned to France in 1918, and was killed in action on 25 March during the Spring Offensive; his body was never recovered. Campaigners have called for a statue to be erected in his honour. In December 2006 Phil Vasili and Northampton South MP Brian Binley launched a campaign for Tull to be posthumously awarded the Military Cross.

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footballer of Clapton Football Club 1908-09, footballer of Tottenham Hotspur Football Club 1909-11 and footballer of Northampton Town Football Club 1911-14

Commemorated on 3 plaques

Walter Tull 1888-1918 pioneering footballer for Tottenham Hotspur and pioneering British Army Officer lived in a house on this site 1909-1910

77 Northumberland Park, Tottenham, London, United Kingdom where they lived (1909-1910)

Walter Tull born 28th April 1888 died 25th March 1918 began his career here at Clapton FC season of 1908-09

Clapton FC, Forest Gate, London, United Kingdom where they played

In memory of Walter Tull 1888-1918 born in Folkestone and educated at Munfella Primary School he was the first black officer in the British Army and the first black outfield player to play professional football in Britain. Killed in action during the Second Battle of the Somme. Proudly remembered

the bandstand, Folkestone, United Kingdom where they was born near (1888)