The illustration for today’s Doodle, which was created by London-based guest artist Selom Sunu, honours Scottish footballer Andrew Watson as he anticipates the next generation of Black football legends. In addition to becoming the first Black football administrator in history,
Watson is also recognized as the first Black player to play on an international level. In the first game ever played at the brand-new Hampden Park stadium on this day in 1884, Watson took the field for the Scottish football team Queen’s Park.
A wealthy Scottish businessman and a Guyanese woman gave birth to Watson in Georgetown, Guyana, in 1856. When Watson was five years old, his father and they relocated to Britain, where football was gaining popularity. While attending English public schools in Yorkshire and Wimbledon, he fell in love with the game.
Watson received his father’s riches after his death, which allowed him to become self-sufficient. Because of this, he was able to enlist at the University of Glasgow, where he studied engineering, natural philosophy, and mathematics. Watson, then 21 years old, decided not to graduate and instead opened a wholesale warehouse while continuing to play football on the side.
While playing as a full-back for Queen’s Park FC, one of the top soccer teams in Scotland, Watson developed a reputation for his quick and slick style of play. He was a successful businessman and also a match secretary. Watson was given the opportunity to play for Scotland’s national football team after Queen’s Park FC won a Scottish football championship.
He became the first Black man to serve as captain of his nation and guided Scotland to several victories over their arch-rival, England, including a 6-1 victory that still stands as England’s largest home defeat ever!
The top clubs in Scotland and England made him offers as a result of his achievement on the international level. Watson joined Bootle FC in northern England in 1887. At the time, amateur clubs didn’t pay its players, although Bootle FC had a reputation for doing so for well-known players. Watson would have been the first Black professional footballer if he had been paid to play for the Liverpool team.
The Hampden Bowling Club in Glasgow, the location of Scotland’s third triumph over England, has a mural commemorating Watson. Over the course of his 14-year career, Watson won the Scottish Cup three times and all three games he participated in against England. Despite the fact that Watson’s playing days were almost a century ago, he continues to have an impact on football today, serving as an inspiration for present-day Black players as well as those who will come after them.