THE unveiling of the mural dedicated to Arthur Wharton is a very fitting tribute to the world’s first black professional footballer, especially as it comes at the end of Black History Month.

Darlington may initially be thought of as an unlikely home for such a nationally important sportsman, but goes to show that even outside the multicultural cities, people of different races and colours have been living together and celebrating one another’s achievements for a long time.

Wharton’s story, of becoming a national sprinting champion as well as ground-breaking footballer, should be an inspiration for youngsters growing up in the town.

It has taken a long time for Wharton to be fully recognised. It is worth noting how the story of Alf Common – who became the first £1,000 footballer in 1905 just as Wharton’s career was ending – is so much better known than Wharton’s. Common, who retired to run pubs in Darlington, has been revered in the town whereas Wharton was forgotten.

Congratulations to Shaun Campbell, who has campaigned tirelessly to get Wharton the notice he deserves. It is great to see how his energy has enabled Darlington to cherish one of its historic icons – if the town can keep another of its icons, Locomotion No 1, that too must be widely and vibrantly celebrated.