Walter Tull will be commemorated through community engagement projects
One hundred years after his death, the achievements of Walter Tull, the first man of black heritage to become an officer and lead men into battle in the British Army and one of this country’s first black professional footballers will be commemorated through a series of community engagement projects, backed by the governing bodies of football in England.
Born in Kent to a Barbadian father and local British mother, Tull was orphaned at the age of 8 and spent his formative years in east London children’s home. After making his mark as a talented local football player, he went on to become one of Britain’s first professional players from a black heritage, playing first for Clapton FC before being signed by Tottenham Hotspur and later transferring to Northampton Town in the then Southern League.
Abandoning his career and enlisting in the ‘Football Battalion’, Walter Tull rose through the army ranks to become an officer despite the explicit restrictions to promotion at the time. After serving on the Western Front, then in Italy, Walter Tull was killed in action at the second battle of the Somme in March 1918.
Communities Minister Lord Bourne said:
Walter Tull is a true British hero, who went to great lengths to overcome the barriers of class and colour to fight for his country. Tull 100 is an excellent opportunity for all of us to learn more about his courageous actions in the First World War and his extraordinary football career.
This ambitious project will also hold a mirror to our times; allowing young people to see how far we have come and ensure progress continues in creating a society where everyone, regardless of background, can reach their full potential.
The Tull 100 project launches on the centenary of his death, 25 March 2018, and will work through football clubs, youth groups, schools and community networks across the country to undertake innovative projects. Small-scale funding will be available to support activity.