Black History Month 2023 - Walter Tull

Walter Tull
This year’s Black History Month theme - ‘Before Windrush’ - is dedicated to honouring the lives of Black Britons living in the UK before the arrival of Empire Windrush. One such Briton was Walter Tull, whose legacy has left a lasting mark on British history, English football and the PFA.  

Born by the coast in Folkestone in 1888, Walter Tull was the son of a Barbadian father and English Mother.  Following the death of his parents in his childhood, Tull spent his early days in an orphanage in Bethnal Green alongside his brother, Edward. It was just over a decade later that his talent for football led him to sign for Clapton FC. He was soon recognised by scouts from Tottenham Hotspur where he signed at age 21, thus becoming just the second ever Black player in the top division of the football league.  

His professionalism and composure in the face of racial abuse during this period was recognised by football commentators at the time, but his lack of game time and relegation to the reserves side was attributed by some to the prejudice he suffered.  

A later spell at Northampton Town was interrupted by the outbreak of World War One in 1914, and Tull became the first player at the club to enlist in the British Army. Tull served in the two Football Battalions of the Duke of Cambridge’s Own (Middlesex) Regiment, rising to the rank of lance sergeant and fighting in the Battle of the Somme in 1916. Tull was later commissioned a second lieutenant and became one of the first mixed-heritage infantry officers in a British Army regiment.  

After years of fighting, at age 29, Tull was sadly killed in action in northern France.

The PFA has been proud to support a range of projects over the years that commemorate the vast contributions Water Tull has made to British history and football. The PFA also joins others across the industry in acknowledging our continued support for the appeal to commemorate Walter Tull posthumously with the Military Cross. 

Featured News

News Listing