Who was the first black player to play for celtic?

Since his death in 2011, Gil Scott-Heron’s work has only grown in artistic influence. His jazz poetry, political commentary and early rap music saw a development through the ensuing wave of mourning that had not been seen since its heyday in the 1970s and 1980s. Be Televised, its influence on contemporary rap and hip-hop has been hailed by artists and musicians around the world. Recognized as a true cultural icon, he has been hailed as the King of Bluesology. Less recognized and celebrated is his father, who was also something of a cultural icon.

Gil Scott-Heron was born in Chicago in 1949 to an opera singer, née Bobbie Scott, and an aspiring Jamaican footballer, Gil Heron. His father had been born in Kingston 27 years earlier, but had emigrated to Canada as a young man, enlisted in the Canadian Air Force and made a name for himself as both a boxer and an athletic talent during his time in the army. He was also an increasingly promising footballer, using his natural pace to his advantage and making a name for himself as a lightning-fast centre-forward. After joining Detroit Corinthians in the mid-1940s, he became the North American Soccer Football League’s top scorer in 1946. While in the United States, he met and married Bobbie, and before long Gil Scott- Heron had arrived on the scene.

With his son still in infancy, Gil Heron was about to offer his life. While the club was on a North American tour, Celtic played a friendly match against Heron’s side in which they impressed the coaching staff and scouts. Speaking to The New Yorker in 2010, Gil Scott-Heron explained it this way: “It was after the war, [he] was working for Western Electric. He also played for the Chicago Maroons or something. A Scottish team came in and he scored against them which they didn’t come for. They were all white. He went to Scotland and legend has it that he scored a goal the day he arrived. He was nicknamed ‘The Black Arrow’ and played professionally for three years.”

Speaking to an American publication, Gil Scott-Heron may not have been as forthcoming about football as he could have been. In the context of the interview, the rather banal description of Celtic as a “Scottish team” is forgiven. Celtic had won the Scottish Championship 19 times by the time his father joined them, along with a host of domestic trophies and silverware of all kinds. Although they had yet to see their golden age under Jock Stein, they were still one of the biggest and best supported clubs in Britain and an offer to play for them abroad, Gil Heron did not could resist it.

While this was a serious professional blow for Heron, it also destroyed his family life. He and Bobbie split up and he wouldn’t see his son again until the then-musician was 26. Although he didn’t necessarily know it at the time, his move to Celtic would relegate him to a relatively minor position in his son’s life. . However, after being invited to Scotland for a trial, he signed permanently for the club in 1951.

On his debut against Morton, Heron scored for his new employer, making an immediate impression on the fans and earning his nickname “Black Arrow”. The reference to race was significant as he was the first black footballer to play for Celtic at a time when there were few non-white faces in British football as a whole. Although he appears to have been warmly welcomed by Celtic fans and even gained cult hero status, little is known about his reception by their opponents when he first appeared at the club. While there is little evidence of racial abuse relating to his time in Scotland, it may stem from the realities of the 1950s, as opposed to a lack of vocal prejudice. It is possible that no one cowered in the face of racism, just as it is possible that Heron’s background was not as controversial as one might now imagine.

Despite his reception in the stands, Heron’s opportunities on the field were dwindling rapidly. Celtic had an abundance of talent up front, which limited the signing to five appearances during the season, in which he scored two goals in total. By the end of the season, Heron’s time at Celtic was over before it had really begun. He was sacked by the club and went on to play for Third Lanark. From there he joined Kidderminster Harriers before returning to the United States and Detroit Corinthians in 1954.

Considering the impact it has had on his family, Heron’s story might seem rather tragic. He tried to fulfill his dream of him in football, he sacrificed a lot and in the end he failed. However, he has clearly conquered the hearts and minds of Celtic with his nickname of him, which evokes grace, agility and deadly speed. Maybe he wasn’t ready for Scottish football, or maybe Scottish football wasn’t ready for him. In the long run, however, the cultural value he accumulated at Celtic was disproportionate to his numbers.

With few black players appearing for Scottish teams until the late 1980s and early 1990s, the “Black Arrow” became part of football’s folklore. Despite his relatively short stint at Celtic, he has distinguished himself in a sea of ​​white faces that stretches from the beginning of the Scottish League in the 1890s to the second half of the twentieth century. Then, as Gil Scott-Heron became a phenomenon in Britain and his records began to fill the shelves, the legend of his father’s Celtic career resurfaced even more strongly in the national consciousness. At the time Scott-Heron was touring the UK, fans would go to his concerts wearing Celtic T-shirts in memory of his late father.

In the great Celtic book An Alphabet of the Celts, published in the early 1990s, Gil Heron is described as “a great and very interesting man”. By this time, Heron had become a cult legend, even though he had only played for green-and-white baskets in five competitions. For his part, Heron has always kept an eye on Celtic’s fortunes, as his son proved after his father died in 2008. While he may not have had the creative success of Gil Scott-Heron, he was still an idol and a reference point. In fact, after seeing the colors of Celtic in the crowd at one of his performances in Glasgow, his son is said to have said, “Here you are – eclipses a parent again.”

Source: www.emmacitizen.com

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