RUFC - Chairman Talks About 'Arthur's Statue'
Rotherham United are hoping to host a special game with Manchester United as part of the Arthur Wharton Tribute project.
The project, which was launched yesterday at the New York Stadium, is to include a tribute dinner and the 125 Challenge Match involving the Millers and Manchester United.
This year marks the one hundred and twenty-fifth Anniversary of Arthur Wharton becoming the first black professional footballer when he signed for Rotherham Town (later to become Rotherham County and now Rotherham United).
At the launch yesterday along side Millers Chairman Tony Stewart was former Manchester United goalkeeper Alex Stepney and former England International Cyrille Regis plus Jim Cadman from the Arthur Wharton Guild.
Mr Cadman addressed the meeting saying, 'Something that happened in Rotherham all those years ago has reverberated around the world and what he (Arthur) did then led the way for others years later and it is a truly important part of football history.`
Mr Stewart said, 'I knew about Arthur Wharton but I was approached about six months ago by Jim (Cadman) and he revealed a lot about Arthur that I didn't realise like the fact that he`d won the fastest hundred yard dash, was an athlete and a boxer as well as a goalkeeper who started his professional career with Rotherham.`
Speaking about the statue that will stand outside the New York Stadium, Mr Stewart said, 'I think it needs to be celebrated that he was the first professional black player and signed for Rotherham. We know his great-great grandchildren are still living in Rotherham and it will commemorate what the man achieved.
'It`s also about racism and I think it`s right and proper that we, in Rotherham, celebrate the fact that not only have we got a new stadium, we`ve got ease of access, we welcome all and I think it`s about being able to see at all levels that there`s equal opportunities and everyone is accepted. And I think that`s a big statement that fights against racism and that Rotherham United, and Rotherham town, are demonstrating with the statue that it represents the part we are playing in combating racism.
'We`d like the statue in place this year. We are against racism and people will see this, even when passing the stadium on a train, and ask what it`s about and we will be delighted and honoured to have it. Arthur`s is a truly remarkable story.`
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