Wednesday 6th July, 20113 years ago, at the start of July

Celebrating 106 Years of Black Footballers at Valley Parade

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In the popular imagination pioneering black footballers are epitomised by Cyril Regis and Viv Anderson, at Valley Parade thoughts turn to those icons of the 1970s Ces Podd and Joe Cooke. However, they were far from being Bradford City’s first black players, over sixty years earlier the Bantams signed the mixed race winger Billy Clarke from Aston Villa.

In 1901 Billy Clarke had already become the first ever black player to score a goal in the first division whilst at Villa. After moving to Valley Parade in 1905 he helped Bradford City win the second division championship and in September 1908 he scored Bradford City’s first ever goal in the top flight of English football.

At Valley Parade on 22 October 2011 this forgotten piece of the Bantams’ history will be celebrated, along with the contribution black footballers have made to the history of Bradford City in the ensuing 106 years.

Our visitors on 22 October, Northampton Town, had another pioneering black footballer Walter Tull in their team prior to the Great War. He signed from Tottenham Hotspur in 1911 and when war broke out he was the first Northampton player to enlist. Tull eventually became the first ever black combat officer in the British Army. Sadly, he was killed during the conflict. The home match against Northampton is the perfect occasion to celebrate 106 years of black footballers at Valley Parade.

Several events are being lined up for the day, but at the moment we can confirm the attendance of Joe Cooke. Join the big man himself in the bantamspast museum from 1.30pm where you will hear of the exploits of Billy Clarke and the experiences of the more recent black footballers at Valley Parade.

We have invited the great Ces Podd and are endeavouring to contact Bradford City’s Wembley hero Des Hamilton. Which other former black Bradford City players would BfB readers like to see at Valley Parade on 22 October? Here’s your chance to suggest the players we should invite and why? Jamie Lawrence? Darren Moore? Stan Collymore?

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  1. nigel greenwood says:

    Although it seems strange to celebrate 106 years rather than a round figure such as
    100 years or 110 years, I think this is an excellent idea. Personally, I’d like to
    see Des Hamilton, Darren Moore and Jamie Lawrence there as they were great players
    and ambassadors for BCFC. Hopefully in a few years I’d like to see a celebration of
    what Asian players have done for BCFC – hopefully all the sensoble development plans
    that are underway at the moment will include more plans to encourage local Asians to
    support and play for the club – it would be great to see BCFC as a multicultural
    team representing our multicultural city

  2. Andy Garrard says:

    I would personally like to see the return of Gus Uhlenbeek. Erratic? Yes. Fun to watch? Definitely

  3. Adam Hepton says:

    If there’s an exhibit about black footballers, as sad as it might be, it’s intrinsically tied to intolerance and racial tension. I’d ask Donovan Ricketts, not only because of the idiocy suffered at Southend in the 21st Century, but because he was a top, top bloke.

  4. Jo Billingsley says:

    October is also Black History Month, held to promote knowledge of Black history, culture and heritage in the UK making the date very apt from that point of view.

    Jamie Lawrence will rightly always be a welcome visitor to VP. For this occasion he could offer an insightful contribution to the discussion. His sporting achievements were particularly significant going, as he did, “From Prison to the Premiership”.

  5. Kieran Wilkinson says:

    Maybe Andy Kiwomya as a less obvious choice who had some good times at the club. Definitely Jamie Lawrence.

    Probably not Gavin Grant…

  6. Glyn Maxwell says:

    FHS Don Goodman! The memory of him leaving Kenny Burns sat on the half-way line as he went and scored will live as long as I have mind to hold it.

    Also: is it correct that Ces Podd was the first ever black footballer to be awarded a testimonial by a Football League club? Anyone got the line-up of the all black 11 that played at his testimonial game?

    1. David Pendleton says:

      Yes, Ces was the first black footballer to be granted a testimonial. I was at the game and have the programme somewhere. We also know where Ces’ testimonial shirt is.

      Don Goodman is also another Sky pundit, but we will invite him. The puddle incident at Odsal when Don overtook the ball at high speed sticks in the memory.

  7. David Pendleton says:

    Thanks for the comments. I have invited Chris Kamara, but given his involvement with Sky it’s a long shot, but worth a try. Jamie Lawrence has seemingly left Ashford Town and his own soccer school website contact is not working, so any help contacting Jamie would be more than welcome! Andy Kiwomya is possible as the last I heard he was still in Bradford. I am also trying to contact Noel Blake, he is heavily involved with the England set up, so getting him on a Saturday might be problematical – likewise Darren Moore.

    106 years is an odd number, but only because we have only recently rediscovered Billy Clarke. We could have waited another four years for the 110th anniversary, but there is no time like the present! Keep the ideas coming and if anyone can help contact any of the former players please step forward.

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