THE story of Arthur Wharton, the world’s first black professional footballer, is quite remarkable, and so it is great news that a short film is to be made about his life, starring the renowned Derek Griffiths.

In Black History Month, it is appropriate that we remember how Wharton came from Ghana to study in Darlington and starred sprinting bare-foot in races at Feethams – in 1886, wearing the colours of Darlington at the Amateur Athletics Association championship in London, he equalled the amateur world record of 10 seconds dead for the 100 yards.

He then went on to excel as in goal for the Quakers – “the goalkeeper with the prodigious punch”, is how the Echo hailed him – before signing professionally for Rotherham. In 1894, he became the first black player in the First Division, when playing for Sheffield United.

He was an all-round sportsman, excelling at cricket and cycling and even pedestrianism, and, in many ways, he is the start of the black presence in all of these sports.

As a black man, he stood out in 1880s Darlington where he was treated with great curiosity, with pernicious racism and also with much friendship – he lived with the family of his athletics coach, Manny Harbron, in Brunswick Street, and he became a loyal supporter.

The Arthur Wharton Foundation, in Widdowfield Street in Darlington, is doing great work in using Arthur’s story to bring people from all communities and across all age ranges together and to inspire them to achieve great things in the way Arthur did, against the odds.

The new film, to be made by a local film-maker, will play a part in that work. It will star Derek Griffiths, who has been in everything from Play School to Coronation Street, and Darlington should be so proud to have Arthur's story as part of its history and the foundation in its midst.