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Tottenham Fans' Recommendation For Walter Tull

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This petition is in support of the growing campaign for ex-Spurs player Walter Tull to be awarded the Military Cross that he was recommended for his efforts in the First World War and never received because of his ethnic heritage. Walter Tull was originally spotted by Tottenham Hotspur whilst playing for amateur outfit Clapton FC. He demonstrated such great speed and skill with a football that in 1909 Spurs made him their "catch of the season" and he immediately made the inside-left position his own, impressing the fans with his consistent performances. However, Walter's signing was not popular with the footballing community at large who were unable to see past the colour of his skin. He was one of the first black players to have appeared in the Football League and Tottenham Hotspur should be rightfully proud that they were able to see through the controversy and focus on his talents to give him his opportunity to shine. Walter took that opportunity with both hands and ran with it but he was constantly being reminded that he was out of place, a black man in a white man's world. Everytime he stepped out he was met with a barrage of abuse from the rival supporters but Walter always conducted himself with utmost decorum, never reacting negatively to the continuous insults and giving as good as he got where it mattered most, on the pitch. However, when things came to a head Tottenham were unable to stand beside their player. Despite Walter's own ability to ignore the hostility towards him, the directors no longer could do the same and felt that he was beginning to harm the club's public profile. Walter agonizingly found himself being left to sit out games on the bench as the derision was redirected from him to the club as a whole and in 1911 Tottenham sold him to Northampton Town. We shall never know just how good Walter could have been for Spurs, leaving the club aged only 23. In 1915, after the outbreak of war in Europe, Walter joined up along with the rest of his footballing companions to fight as part of the Army's 1st Footballer's Battalion. On his first expedition to France Walter again demonstrated his qualities and was fast promoted to the rank of Sergeant. However, he was soon sent home to England after being diagnosed with shellshock where Walter spent his recovery period resting at his brother's house near Glasgow. During his stay he received a recommendation from his superiors that he should be allowed to train as an officer. This in itself was a revelation as the Army's attitude at the time toward it's non-white representatives was of suspicion and contempt. Although not going low enough to officially sanction segregation or ridicule, there were clear guidelines that prevented a soldier who was not of pure European descent from further advancing their rank. Walter defied the odds and when he returned to duty in 1917 he had successfully become the first ever black officer in the British Army, having been awarded the position of Second Lieutenant in the Middlesex Regiment. Early in 1918 the Austro-Hungarian Army decided to launch a decisive assault on the Italian forces but their generals could not decide where best to attack and split their forces between the Asiago Plateaux and the River Piave. They had hoped to divert some of the allied forces from higher up the Western Front but only a handful of British and French troops arrived. Walter was part of the British contingent and was ordered to defend the River Piave which he did with aplomb. The Italians utilised unique tactics, dividing themselves into smaller factions which would then be independently lead back and forth across the treacherous river to attack specific points in the Austro-Hungarian line. Walter was given charge of one such faction whom he successfully led through the strong currents under heavy gunfire and brought them all back again without suffering a single casualty. It was an extraordinary achievement and his bravery brought accolades from the highest level with Major-General Sydney Lawford citing his appreciation for Walter's "gallantry and coolness". After the Italian victory Walter was redirected back to the Western Front to help repel the German's spring Offensive in the Second Battle of the Somme and, on the Ides of March, Walter was shot in the neck in No Man's Land. Despite the best efforts of his men his body was never recovered, a tragic end for a remarkable man. However, the tragedy does not end with his passing. Walter had achieved so much in his short life, always prevailing in the face of adversity and winning the respect of all he came into contact with but in death he has not been so fortuitous. He had already won a British War medal but his heroics had earned him further endorsements for a Military Cross, the third highest decoration awarded to officers in the British Army. This would mean that the country would have to recognise Walter's position, regardless of the colour of his skin, and that they were unable to do. His rise to Second Lieutenant was seen as a wartime necessity and now that peace had descended upon the nation it was once again declared that a black man could not be an officer as it was not allowed in the rules. However, many people believe that Walter's exploits merited the Military Cross and, despite it now being over 90 years since his death, there is a growing campaign in favour of presenting this long overdue medal to a man most deserved. Tottenham Hotspur may have, for whatever reason, failed to stand by him all those years earlier but we are all extremely proud of Walter Tull at White Hart Lane, a true Spur through and through, and we will not desert him again. We, the undersigned, demand that his case be reviewed and that the only rightful course be followed so that Walter Tull can finally receive the Military Cross that he has earned by paying the ultimate sacrifice for his country. R.I.P Walter, forever a Spur. Please note: A valid email address is required but will not be shown.


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