On March 12th 1881 a British Guiana-born defender, Andrew Watson, made history at Kennington Oval when he led the Scottish National team out for an international against England. A match, which, I as an Englishman must admit, saw Scotland thrash England 6 goals to 1. He inflicted a terrible defeat on England.
So, who was this true sporting pioneer?
Well, he was born in Georgetown, British Guiana. His father, Peter Miller Watson, was a sugar planter, a wealthy middle-class Scot while his mother is thought to have been a black lady called Anna.
He was sent to England as a young child, to board at the Free Grammar School in Halifax, West Yorkshire. From there he went to King’s College School in London, finally on to the University of Glasgow, where he matriculated in 1875. It was here that he started playing football at a club called Parkgrove and forged his career as football’s first black player.
He became known as a formidable back, who was famed for his fine tackling and neat kicking. They say he had one fault, that of kicking over his own lines when hard pressed by a dashing forward. This led to him, at the age of 23, joining the greatest Scottish team of the time, Queen’s Park, and once there his team won three cups.
From here an international career was inevitable, which he achieved on that famous day in March when he walked out at the Kensington Oval. He only had two further caps as he moved south to London to join the London Swifts. However, the rules in those days said that only Scotland-based players could play for the national team. With the London Swifts he went on to become the first black man to play in the FA Cup.
Therefore, Andrew Watson was not only the first black Scotland international player, he was the first to play in the FA Cup, also, of course, the first to play in the Football League.
Isn’t History Interesting?