Pablo Fanque


Pablo Fanque (28 Feb 1796 – 4 May 1871)

Even though there is much speculation about when he was born, many sources agree that William Darby was born in Norwich to an African-born father and English mother. He joined a circus as a horse rider and rope walker and became known by his stage name of Pablo Fanque. His performances in 1847 was very successful, with The Illustrated London News raving about this ‘artiste of colour’ and his ‘extraordinary horse training skills’. The circus historian George Speight said that ‘by his own industry and talent, he got together as fine a stud of horses and ponies as any in England’. He even performed in front of Queen Victoria in his run at London’s Astley’s Amphitheatre as well as employing Elizabeth Sylvester who was Britain’s first female clown. He went on from there to operate his own circus for 30 years, during which time he toured extensively through England, as well as Ireland and Scotland. Even the legendary Jem Mace toured with Fanque in 1861. His circus’ were regarded as the most popular in Victorian Britain for 30 years in spite of the fact that he was the first non-white circus proprietor in Britain.

It’s entirely normal to see reference to his African heritage, but unusual to see a Black man in such a prominent position in the entertainment industry not as a performer, but as a businessman. And well-respected at that. A quote in the Blackburn Mercury reads as follows:

I am sure that the friends of temperance and morality are deeply indebted to him for the perfectly innocent recreation which he has afforded to our population, by which I am sure hundreds have been prevented from spending their money in revelling and drunkenness

He seems to be one of the earliest examples of prominent Black entertainers in the Western world along with Ira Aldridge, who performed in London as an actor as early as 1825, albeit as a slave named Oroonoko in The Revolt of Surinam. Unfortunately, his wife died as a result of a structural accident at a show, and Fanque himself died penniless. His story becomes more incredible when noted that a funeral procession, band and four coaches and mourners marched ahead of his coffin when he died.  On their Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band album, the Beatles pay homage to Fanque by mentioning him in a song entitled Being for the Benefit of Mr.Kite!


The Black Poor of London

150 years before Marcus Garveys plan for people of African ancestry in the diaspora to return to Africa, there were a group of Blacks based in London who managed to do just that.

In the 18th century, The Black Poor were a group of people living in London, who for different reasons, were unable find work or who simply couldn’t find it. They generally lived around Covent Garden, the East End and Marlybone, and Eliabeth I on more than one occasion referred to the ‘great numbers of negars and blackamoors’ she wanted to be deported. God save the Queen. The funny thing is, they actually weren’t all Black. Originally, the Committee for the Relief of the Black Poor was set up for Lascars (Indian sailors) who were sometimes abandoned in England by the East India Company. In 1786, The Committee found that there were about 250 Black and Indian people who needed help and some of the most prominent figures of London’s financial elite began to plan. Ironically, these abolitionists and members such as Thomas Boddington and John Angerstein, while raising money for aid, were themselves slave owners and benefited from the slave trade.

Whether it was in an effort to remove Blacks and Indians from London, or a purely altruistic endeavour, on 9th April 1787, 3 ships left Portsmouth bound for Sierra Leone. Even Olaudah Equiano was employed to help arrange supplies for the long journey. They arrived on May 5th and their descendents are called the Krio, and make up approximately 4% of Sierra Leone’s population.


The Rooney Rule

The Black athlete has often times been the first to break colour lines, with the Brooklyn Dodgers starting Jackie Robinson on first base in 1947, to Jesse Owens’ feat in the 1938 Olympics in Munich. The physical prowess of the Black athlete has never been in question, but it took a long time for the Black intellect to be recognised in sport.

Dan Rooney & Mike Tomlin

Dan Rooney & Mike Tomlin

Rooney Rule – since 2003

The Rooney Rule was established in 2003 for the NFL, and states that teams must interview a minority candidate for a head coaching or senior footballing operations job. Even though Black athletes make up about 60% of the total athletes in the NFL, at the time of the Rooney Rule, there were only 2 Black head coaches (the NFL consists of 32 teams). In 2006, the overall percentage had jumped from 6% to 22%. Currently, it stands at 12.5% which compared favorably to the 12.4% of total African-Americans in the US. It could well be more, but as long as Black athletes keep beating their wives, kids and can’t stay Off the Weed, the sterotypes and prejudices will remain.

In England many people like Paul Ince and Chris Powell are calling for the Rooney Rule, as it seems that even though there are qualified coaches and managers with eperience, they aren’t being considered for the top jobs. Or maybe there aren’t so many potential Black managers out there. Many like Chris Kamara, Stan Collymore and Robbie Earl choosing to become TV personalities and pundits. Do they do that because they know their chances are slim? Or is the small number attributed to better oppurtunities?

Perhaps the implementation of the Rooney Rule can stop someone like John Terry getting a coaching job one day. God forbid.


Oh England…



So England are officially out of the 2014 World Cup. Lost their first two games in the World Cup for the first time since 1958. 2 goals scored, 4 conceded. So much was hoped for from Sterling, Sturridge, Barkley and the rest. Sisappointment is a gross understatement when it comes to describing England’s World Cup campaign.

By Costa Rica first beating Uruguay (albeit without Suarez) and now Italy, they look like a tactically sound and hungry team – like Chile but without any star names. They must be regarded as the surprise team of the World Cup so far. Although they won’t all of a sudden be tournament favorites, it will be interesting to see how they perform against England. The English media will look at Costa Rican squad, the manner of their performances and demand an English victory. Only a convincing win will do. Speaking of England…

It’s almost as though the two senior members of the team couldn’t handle the pressure. So much was made of Rooney being in his prime and ready to show the world he is a world class player, but he failed to deliver. He was guilty of missing a few clear cut chances against Italy and Uruguay, chances that players like van Persie, Müller and Suarez would surely score. Speaking of Suarez…

England knew all about him. He terrorized the Premier League this season, had keyhole surgery at the end of the season and still managed to score twice against a shaky England defense. He stepped up where PSG’s £50million rated striker Cavani couldn’t. Maybe Costa Rica wouldn’t have beaten Uruguay if Suarez had featured in that game. A player of that quality demands attention at all times. His first goal showcased his movement while his second goal showed his mental sharpness and clinical finishing after Gerrards mistake led to his second goal. He has probably added a few million pounds to the fee that Real Madrid or Barcelona are reported to be thinking of bidding. Speaking of Gerrard…

This tournament is probably the last time we will see Gerrard in an England shirt. His misjudgment of the header on thursday night and his slip against Chelsea at the end of the season, are more signs that he is no longer the player he used to be. It’s a shame that its ended like this but maybe Roy Hodgson felt pressured into playing Gerrard (and Rooney for that matter) for the sake of having more experience on the pitch. Maybe Wilshere would have made a bigger impact. Rickie Lambert was given a few minutes at the end of the Urugauy game, but maybe he coud have made a difference and been a bigger physical presence in both games.

England go into the game against Costa Rica knowing that only a win will be good enough. Pre-tournament, for England to lose 3 games in a row would be unthinkable, but now it is clearly a possibility. On a positive note, they could actually finish the World Cup with a better record (even if it is just on goal difference) than Spain. Speaking of Spain…

Football eh? Bloody Hell.

It's not all bad.. at least we can catch the start of Wimbeldon

“It’s not all bad.. at least we can catch the start of Wimbeldon”