The picture attached, which was found in an old local newspaper, shows the Bootle FC Liverpool Cup winning side of 1888. Tam Veith, the club captain, stands to the right of trophy while his full back partner, Andrew Watson, stands on the left of the back row. Watson is now acknowledged to be the Worlds first black football player.
Andrew Watson was born in British Guyana in 1857. He was the son of Peter Miller, a Scottish Sugar Planter, and Rose Watson who was a local plantation worker. Peter Miller, following the death of Rose, brought the young Andrew back with him to Scotland and provided well for his education. He was first sent to the prestigious Kings College, London, before returning to Scotland where he enrolled at Glasgow University. It is around this time that he is first reported to be playing football and carrying out the secretarial duties of a local football club who played under the name of Parkgrove.
His football skills must have been considerable because he later signed for the famous Queens Park club at Hampden Park where he became the club secretary. In 1881 he captained the Scottish International side in their 6-1 victory over England on the Oval cricket ground in London. Two days later Watson was in the Scottish side that defeated Wales 4-1 at Wrexham. Later that year he won the first of three Scottish Cup medals when Queens Park defeated Dumbarton in the final. Watson played one more game for Scotland, a 5-1 win over England, before sacrificing his International career by moving south to play for the Swifts football club in England
Andrew Watson now became the first black player to take part in an FA Cup tie when played for the Swifts against the Old Etonians at the Oval. While living in London he also played football for the famous Corinthians and represented them against Bootle at Hawthorne Road in 1884. He later moved back to Glasgow where again he won another two Scottish Cup winners medal with his former club, Queens Park.
In 1887, at the age of 28, Andrew Watson moved to Merseyside and began playing football for Bootle. He quickly formed a formidable full back partnership club captain Tam Veith and took part in the infamous Liverpool Cup tie, against Everton. Later in the season the Metropolitan supporters warmly applauded him when he appeared for Bootle in their F.A Cup tie against the Old Carthusians at the Oval. (Bootle lost the game by 2 goals to 0.) On the 14th April 1888, Watson made his last appearance for Bootle against Bolton Wanderers. He was injured in the game and missed the Liverpool Cup final. It is not known where Watson lived during his time on Merseyside but it is likely that he lodged with one of his fellow Scotsmen on the Bootle team. Andrew Watson ended his football career at Hawthorne Road and returned to live in Scotland.
On the 1891 census Andrew Watson is living with his wife and two children in the Govan district of Glasgow. There the trail goes cold. It is believed he later lived in Bombay before moving on to Sydney, Australia where he died and was buried. Andrew Watson is assured of his place in Bootle folklore as the first black person ever to have played football on Merseyside.
By Willie MacGorbals