When Walter Tull took the field for Tottenham Hotspur in 1909, he became the first professional black outfield player in English football. In his brief time at Spurs he endured savage racial abuse from fans, all the while playing exemplary football. After a transfer to Northampton Town - for whom he played 110 matches - Tull enlisted in the Footballer’s battalion of the Middlesex Regiment. Tull’s leadership led to a commission as a Second Lieutenant in 1917 despite that fact that the Manual of Military Law forbade “negroes” from receiving command commissions. Tull was killed in the second Battle of the Somme on the 25th of May 1918. His body was never recovered.
As Tottenham Hotspur looks forward to building its new stadium in N17, we have the opportunity to celebrate Spurs’ greatest players in powerful ways. To that end, we the undersigned formally petition Tottenham Hotspur Football Club to name the entrance tunnel to the pitch at the new stadium after Walter Tull.
We specifically request that the tunnel bear Tull’s name for its architectural significance. The tunnel, after all, provides literal access to the pitch. Walter Tull was a trailblazer, bravely cutting a path that players of all backgrounds and identities walk today. It is therefore fitting that the architectural feature that provides physical access to the pitch take its name who provided cultural access.
To be clear, this should not be undertaken as a self-congratulatory or laudatory gesture on the part of the club; despite Tull taking the field as the first black outfield player in 1909, some 100 years later the gross spectres of racism, homophobia and sexism still haunt England’s pitches, including White Hart Lane. Instead, the Tull Tunnel should stand as a constant reminder of the ongoing work diversity and inclusion demand of all people interested in justice. Walking through the Tull Tunnel should be for players, managers and staff an act of reaffirmation and recommitment each and every match to the values Tull embodied. Anything else would sully the ongoing work started by Walter Tull and others.
Thank you for considering this petition.
Submitted by the staff of Cartilage Free Captain - www.cartilagefreecaptain.com
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