The world's first soccer card! Fact. The 1st soccer player on a sports card! The 1st professional black soccer player!. The world's first rookie card! Wharton was a top goalie in his day - and even an outfield player! He would have played for England had it not been for the colour of his skin. In the late 1880's he was the best goalie for the best team: the Invincibles, the unbeatable Preston North End team.
The card shows him earlier in his career, at Darlington CFC, 1895-1896. This is the Arthur Wharton rookie card! It's the earliest of all Baines cards of Wharton and it's earlier than the copy, a later card made by Briggs. Later fan-shaped and other cards are just as rare but this is THE first, the very earliest and the undisputed rookie of rookies.
Arthur Wharton, the legend himself, the first soccer player on a card -and the first black soccer player on a card. The legend of whom the Cass book, "The First Black Footballer, Arthur Wharton 1865-1930", was dedicated, and written for, by Phil Vasili.
Not just a great footballer he was fast! He held the world sprint record,and was champion at the time this card was made.
The mythic Darlington Cricket & Football Club goalie - and an outfield player of extraordinary speed and style - and, prospective England goalie. When he played with the Preston Invincibles he played in the best team in the land. It was a great injustice that he was kept out of the England side by dint of the colour of his skin.
Also, later on, a Rotherham Town legend - both on and off the field.
This is the first, the earliest Baines card of Wharton. The similar Briggs card was made in the style of this, soon afterwards, but the Briggs image lacks definition and is obviously a copy taken from this card.
A fan-shape card is also known, a very beautiful 2nd edition to this. The fan cards came out a little later than than these classic shields.
SHOWN FOR PLEASURE. This is in the collection of the author, the site owner and it's not necessarily for sale but the owner will consider serious offers.