clapton players, heros & icons

WALTER TULL

Walter Daniel John Tull was born in Folkestone on 28th April 1888. His father was a carpenter from Barbados who had moved to Folkestone and married a local woman.

By the age of nine, Walter had lost both his parents, and when he was 10 he and his brother Edward were sent to a Methodist orphanage in Bethnal Green. His brother left the orphanage two years later, was adopted by a Scottish family and became a dentist. Meanwhile, Walter played for the orphanage football team, and in 1908, began playing for Clapton FC.

It has been widely, and mistakenly, reported in articles in both football and national press that Walter played for Clapton Orient (now Leyton Orient).  Other reports state that Clapton FC were a local team and infers that the Tons were a mere 'bunch of amateurs'. How wrong they are.

Amateur they may have been, however the Clapton team of this era were one of the best non-professional outfits in England.  Whilst playing for the Clapton FC, Walter Tull won winner's medals in the FA Amateur Cup, London County Amateur Cup and London Senior Cup. He, and Clapton FC, were certainly no 'bunch of amateurs'.

However, Walter Tull had been identified as a player of great skill and, in March 1909, the Football Star called him 'the catch of the season'. In the photo (above) of the FA Amateur Cup winning team of 1909, Walter Tull is in the front row, one from the right.

In 1909 he signed as a professional for Tottenham Hotspur and whilst with the Spurs he experienced, for the first time, spectator racism when his team travelled to play Bristol City. According to one observer, 'a section of the spectators made a cowardly attack on him in language lower than Billingsgate.' The correspondent continued:  "Let me tell those Bristol hooligans that Tull is so clean in mind and method as to be a model for all white men who play football whether they be amateur or professional. In point of ability, if not actual achievement, Tull was the best forward on the field"

In October 1911 Tull moved to Northampton Town where he played half-back and scored nine goals in 110 senior appearances. When the First World War broke out, be became the first Northampton player to sign up to join the 17th (1st Football) Battalion of the Middlesex Regiment, and in November 1915 his battalion arrived in France.

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