Walter Tull is one of the most prominent and interesting people in the history 138 year history of Clapton Football Club. His footballing rise, after just one season of amateur football, to be part of the Clapton team that won the FA Amateur Cup in 1909 and to sign as a professional with Tottenham Hotspur within a year, is like something out of Boys Own Annual. Add that to his childhood in a Bethnal Green orphanage, his strength in dealing with racism on and off the football field, and his undoubted leadership and courage during one of the most horrific of Wars, it is not unfanciful to say that Tull is an important person from the 20th century and, I can proudly say, he was a member of my club.
Vince's club has announced their dedication of Armistice Day to Walter Tull this Wednesday and there will be an exhibition / talk to commemorate his life. I would certainly like to have been able to go and to have contributed, as would many others, but the late announcement, just five days beforehand, has caught everyone on the wrong foot. This includes the two organisations listed as partners in the event who make unfortunately no reference to it on their websites.
Whilst I applaud the sentiment,, I am unsure whether a day, which is supposed to commemorate all those who died in the First World War (estimates are not definitive but it is said that over 6 million military personnel from the 'Allied' forces alone), amongst others, should be dedicated solely to one person, whatever his talents or achievements.
Maybe there were other dates more specific to Tull (birthday, anniversary of his death etc) that might have attracted greater attention to the cause. It might also be an opportunity to liaise with his Regiment and Vince would have the contacts, as he was a serving soldier in the 1970s.
Whilst Tull remains an important part of the 'Clapton story' it is true to say that he left the Dog long before the outbreak of War in 1914. He had also left Tottenham and had signed for Northampton Town and had reportedly signed to play for Glasgow Rangers when the war was over.
The 1928 Jubilee Brochure of the Clapton Football Club is says that "From 1915 and 1919, every member took part in the Great War and H. Cameron, N. Coaksley, L.S. Dumbell, B.F. Packer, B. Page, C. Snow, W.M. Timson made the supreme sacrifice for their country."
Whilst it is undoubtedly correct to remember Tull's contribution as a footballer and a soldier, I hope, on Wednesday, that Vince and his colleagues will also remember the members of the Clapton Football Club, of which he claims to be the present owner/custodian, who like Tull and millions of others, met a premature end to their lives.