Google Doodle celebrates Andrew Watson - the world's first Black person to play association football
Updated: Dec 4, 2022
Andrew Watson was a Scottish footballer who is widely considered to be the world's first black person to play association football at international level.
On the 18th October, Doodle celebrated Scottish footballer Andrew Watson as he looks into the future at Black football legends to come and was illustrated by London-based guest artist Selom Sunu. Watson is considered to be the first Black international footballer, the first Black footballer to captain his country, and the first Black football administrator in history. On this day in 1884, Watson took the field for Scottish football team Queen’s Park in the first game played at the new Hampden Park stadium.
Watson was born in 1856 in Georgetown, Guyana to a wealthy Scottish former plantation manager and slave owner and Guyanese woman. At age 5, Watson and his father moved to Britain where football was becoming increasingly popular. He fell in love with the sport while attending English public schools in Yorkshire and Wimbledon.
After his father’s death, Watson inherited his wealth and became financially independent. This allowed him to enroll at the University of Glasgow where he studied engineering, natural philosophy and mathematics. Instead of graduating, 21-year-old Watson started a wholesale warehouse business and played football on the side.
Watson gained a reputation for his fast and skillful style of play as a full-back for Queen's Park FC, one of the best football clubs in Scotland. Thanks to his experience as a businessman, he was also match secretary. After Queen’s Park FC won a Scottish football title, Watson earned a chance to play for Scotland’s international team. He became the first Black man to captain his country and led Scotland to multiple wins over their rival, England, including a 6-1 victory—which remains the biggest home loss for England, ever!
His success on the international stage spurred offers from the best clubs in Scotland and England. In 1887, Watson signed with Bootle FC in northern England. At this time, amateur clubs didn’t pay their players, but Bootle FC was known to pay high-profile names. If Watson had received money to play for the Liverpool club, he would technically be the first Black professional footballer.
Over the course of his 14-year career, Watson won the Scottish Cup three times and won all three matches he played in against England. The Hampden Bowling club in Glasgow, the site of Scotland's third victory over England, features a mural of Watson. Over a century has passed since Watson’s playing days, but his impact can still be felt across the sport today, as a shining example of lighting the way for past, current and future generations of Black footballers.