Former Tottenham Hotspur payers Sol Campbell and Garth Crooks join medal fight for Walter Tull

Forgotten hero: Walter Tull

Forgotten hero: Walter Tull

First published in News
Last updated
by , Reporter

Two former Spurs players have today written to the Prime Minister to ask for posthumous recognition for a Tottenham Hotspur player who became Britain’s first black Army officer.

Former Spurs and Arsenal star Sol Campbell and ex-Spurs striker Garth Crooks joined the campaign to see Walter Tull recognised for service to his country during the First World War.

Mr Tull, who was the first black professional outfield football player in Britain, was recommended for a Military Cross for heroism on the Western Front in 1918 but was reportedly spurned due to his skin colour.

Campaigners have called for Mr Tull to be given the honour as part of events marking the centenary of the Great War.

The calls have been given the support by the two former players and Simon Astaire — Mr Campbell’s biographer — as well as Simon Woolley, head of campaigning organisation Operation Black Vote.

Posthumous medals are rarely awarded by the Ministry of Defence but sports minister Helen Grant, who is also responsible for First World War centenary celebrations, said: “I’d like to explore what more we can do to recognise Walter Tull’s incredible story and sacrifice.”

Mr Tull’s six-year playing career took in spells at Clapton and Northampton, as well as a tour of Argentina and Uruguay during his Spurs career.

The grandson of a slave, he grew up in an orphanage in Bethnal Green.

Tull fought at the Somme in 1916 and died on the battlefield in France two years later but his body was never found.

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