Walter Tull

English professional footballer and army officer (1888-1918)

Walter Daniel John Tull (28 April 1888 – 25 March 1918)[1] was an English professional footballer. He played as an inside forward for Tottenham Hotspur and Northampton Town.[2] He was the second person of mixed race to play in the top division of the Football League. He was the first mixed-race British outfielder in the top division of English football. His professional football career began after he was spotted while playing for his local amateur club, Clapton F.C.. He began playing for Clapton in 1908. Within a few months he had won winners' medals in the FA Amateur Cup, London County Amateur Cup and London Senior Cup. In March 1909 the Football Star called him "the catch of the season".

Walter Tull
Walter Tull Epitaph, Sixfields Stadium, Northampton.jpg
Personal information
Date of birth (1888-04-28)28 April 1888
Place of birth Folkestone, Kent, England
Date of death 25 March 1918(1918-03-25) (aged 29)
Place of death Pas-de-Calais, France
Playing position Midfielder
Senior career*
Years Team Apps (Gls)
1908–09 Clapton  
1909–1911 Tottenham Hotspur 10 (2)
1911–14 Northampton Town 111 (9)
* Senior club appearances and goals counted for the domestic league only

Tull was brought up in a National Children's Home orphanage in Bethnal Green, London, along with his brother.[3] They were placed there following the death of their parents.[3] He joined Tottenham in 1909 and transferred to Northampton Town in 1911, where he made 111 first-team appearances.

During the First World War, Tull served in the Footballers' Battalion of the Middlesex Regiment.[4] He fought in the Battle of the Somme in 1916. Tull was commissioned as a Second Lieutenant on 30 May 1917. This was in spite of the fact there was a ban on black people being given that status.[5]

Tull fought in Italy in 1917–18. He was noted for his "gallantry and coolness" while leading his company of 26 men on a raiding party into enemy territory. He returned to France in 1918. Tull was killed in action on 25 March during the Spring Offensive. His body was never recovered.

Campaigners have called for a statue to be erected in his honour.[6] Northampton South MP Brian Binley has campaigned for Tull to be posthumously awarded the Military Cross.[7] He was honoured with a commemorative plaque in London placed close to where he lived.[8] A Walter Tull commemorative coin is part of a set of £5 coins released by the Royal Mint.[9]


  1. "Second Lieutenant Walter Daniel John Tull". IMW. Retrieved 22 November 2015.
  2. "Walter Tull, the first black officer in the British army, to feature on £5 coin". The Guardian. Retrieved 22 November 2015.
  3. 3.0 3.1 "Walter Tull". Spartacus Educational Publishers Ltd. Retrieved 22 November 2015.
  4. "Walter Tull & Arthur Wharton, Britain's First Black Professional Footballers" (PDF). Islington Ethnic Minority Achievement. Retrieved 22 November 2015.
  5. "British Army's first black officer Walter Tull remembered on coins". BBC. 3 September 2014. Retrieved 22 November 2015.
  6. Dennis Ellam (9 March 2013). "Footy soldier: Campaign to honour black football star Walter Tull, who died in World War One". Mirror Online. Retrieved 22 November 2015.
  7. Ian Drury (20 November 2012). "Campaign launched for Britain's first black army officer to be honoured with Military Cross for bravery during the First World War". Daily Mail. Retrieved 22 November 2015.
  8. "Pioneering footballer and WW1 soldier Walter Tull honoured with plaque in London". Centenary News. 23 October 2014. Archived from the original on 18 November 2015. Retrieved 22 November 2015.
  9. "British Army's First Black Officer, Walter Tull, Commemorated on £5 Coin". War History Online. 5 September 2014. Retrieved 22 November 2015.