Today’s Google Doodle honours Andrew Watson, a Scottish Football player widely thought to be the first black footballer to play in the Football League and in an English Cup match. The illustration, created by London-based artist Selom Sunu, shows Watson playing for the Scottish club Queen’s Park, along with five black children, showing his long-standing influence on the game.
Today’s date is significant because it was on this day in 1884 that Watson made his way onto the field for the Scottish football team Queen’s Park in the first game played at the new Hampden Park stadium. This is everything you need to know.
Who is Andrew Watson?
Watson was a Scottish footballer who is thought to be the first Black person to have played association football at an international level. Watson was born on 24 May 1856 in what today we know as Guyana, but at the time was British Guiana. His father was a wealthy Scottish sugar planter named Peter Miller Watson, and his mother was a woman named Hannah Rose. He also had an older sister called Annetta.
Ged O’Brien, director of the Scottish Football Museum and leading member of the Association of Sports Historians has said: “We believe the findings, dated between the 1870s and 1880s, could prove that the first Black British footballer was Andrew Watson who played for Queens Park (Glasgow) and Scotland.”
When his father died in 1869 he left his children a massive inheritance, the equivalent of millions of pounds, and Watson became “financially independent for life”. Andrew Watson went on to attend Glasgow University where he studied mathematics but found a passion for the beautiful game, with his financial security, he was able to devote time to this which was fortunate considering Scottish football was thought to be ‘wholly amateur’ until 1893.
The name Andrew Watson would be very familiar to Scottish football fans even back in the Victorian era and this is because he was one of the most influential footballers of his day as he led Scotland to victory against England and Wales as a captain. He was also a player and secretary to Queen’s Park Football Club which was one of the biggest clubs in Britain at the time and he achieved three Scottish Cup wins in total.
He also played football professionally for clubs down in England and participated in the Football League for Exeter City. Lastly, as he is thought to be the first black footballer to play in the Football League and an English Cup match he is also celebrated for this symbolic victory. His final Scottish cap came on 11 March 1882 in a 5-1 win over England in Glasgow.
He married twice – first in 1877 to Jessie Nimmo Armour and then, after she died, to Eliza Kate Tyler in 1887. He had four children from both marriages: Rupert, Agnes, Henry, and Phyllis. Watson died on March 8, 1921, from pneumonia at the age of 64 in London. He retired from football 11 years before his death. Today his body rests at Richmond cemetery where his grave can be visited.