Andrew Watson: the first black international player?

Jul 15, 2020

Life Stories

Andrew Watson

Beginnings

Andrew Watson was born in British Guyana in 1856, His father was a wealthy Scottish plantation owner; his mother was Guyanese, Hannah Rose. Andrew came to England as a young boy and was educated at grammar schools in Halifax and Wimbledon. His father died in 1869. Andrew inherited a lot of money. He was a brilliant sportsman at school and went to Glasgow University to study maths and engineering. He was an outstanding full back for the university soccer team.

Fame and Football

Andrew Watson was an educated young man with a career in business and marine engineering. His life as an amateur footballer followed his life in work. Andrew played for Queens Park in Glasgow before moving to London, where he played for Corinthians and London Caledonians. In 1887 he moved to Liverpool as a marine engineer and played for Bootle. Andrew won 3 caps for Scotland, the first against England in 1881. Although it was his first international, Watson was made team captain. Scotland won 6-1. His last game for Scotland was in Glasgow in 1882.

Legacy

Andrew Watson would have played many more times for Scotland if his working career had not taken him to London and Liverpool. It was a rule of the Scottish FA to select only men playing in Scottish football. It was 93 years after Watson’s last game until the next non-white footballer, Paul Wilson, played for Scotland. Andrew Watson died in London in 1921.

Thinking points

Educators could look at the life story of Andrew Watson and work with young people to consider these questions:

  • What does the story of a boy from British Guyana educated at elite schools in England tell us about colonial migration?
  • How should Andrew Watson be remembered, and what is the role of context in developing remembrance?

Find out more

Find out more about his life at the Scottish Football Museumd. HistoryPod also made a short video about him. Recently artist Ashley Rawson added Andrew Watson to a very visible mural in Glasgow, commemorating the Scotland-England game, following a crowdfunding campaign initiative. He is also featured as a Football Pioneer of Leicester City FC.

COVER Image

Andrew Watson (top centre) with the Scottish team that played England at Hampden Park on the 11 March 1882 (The Glasgow Story)

Andrew Watson (top centre) with the Scottish team that played England at Hampden Park on the 11 March 1882 (The Glasgow Story).

Life Story

Andrew was the first black player in international football. His story is one of colonial migration and education.

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Article Tags:   19th century  |   diversity  |   Empire  |   ethnicity

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