“At first you won’t hear about Frank Anderson, but I hope we will take that into account.”
Northampton enters black history in the game: Walter Tull was the first black player at a home club and the first black president of the British army to lead a white army.
His inspirational story is now being told in school.
However, nothing is known about the former black mix or the Northampton Saints. Till now.
As a result of the discovery by Northampton sports editor Graham McKechnie, while looking at some old photos of the team, he was discovered by Frank Anderson.
Together with England defender Lewis Ludlam – who describes himself as the club’s head coach of the Saints’ first runners – they have put together Anderson’s unique story.
Anderson’s rugby career is a little further ahead of him, but he has made a history of not being recognized for over 120 years.
Born in 1878, he made his Saints debut 22 years later, produced the first nine, and was vice president and clubhouse secretary.
Like many of his teammates, he works as a shoemaker.
McKechnie, also the spokesperson for The Saints and editor of the club.
At the time of World War I, Anderson was 37 years old, but instead of joining the Northamptonshire Regiment, he joined the 17th Middlesex Regiment, known as the Athletes’ Battalion.
This meant, surprisingly, that the Northampton Saints’ first black player went to war in the same battalion as the first black captain in Northampton Town.
“It’s great news that Northampton has these two black games linked together – it’s an incredible story,” said McKechnie.
Promoted to the rank of lieutenant colonel, Anderson was wounded at Delville Wood during the Battle of the Somme in July 1916, and the military medal was awarded at Courage in the Field three months later.
McKechnie said, “There is no doubt that they will prevent racism in the workplace in the world of racism and industry, including the military, which is inherently racist,” McKechnie said.
“But in those companies, there were people who saw it in the past, and I think you’d see Walter Tull and Frank Anderson, people who saw their colors and saw them as real leaders and soldiers. . “
Anderson did not leave the ranks but his struggles ended in November 1917 when a broken rib held him back, he went back to work in the footwear industry until his death from tuberculosis on July 4, 1921, at the age of 42.
For Ludlam, a 25-year-old Palestinian and Lebanese father and mother from Guyana, this is an exciting story.
He said: “As a racing player for the club, I felt like I met the first racing player to play for the Saints.”
“Trying to get an idea of what it was like to grow up a character at the time – it’s almost impossible to tell, but in everything we’ve seen, Frank doesn’t seem to be in the pack.
“If anyone is worth remembering, he is himself, for what he did and for whom he represented”.
Anderson was buried in the city cemetery in north London, with no approval or recognition of his accomplishments.
Ludlam, who has 10 appearances, said: “It’s very sad for a man like Frank, what he’s been through, not to accept and come to a community cemetery like this is a sad ending.”
“Unfortunately, this story isn’t as well understood as it should be.”
Speaking with the Anderson family
There was at least some excitement he didn’t have in this story.
Northampton was able to find Anderson’s nephew Martin Faulkner, who lives with his family near Wellingborough, to see what he knows about his life.
He said: “I know it’s a different game but I don’t know anything about him as a Saints player.
“Walter Tull is a symbol in the land of the Grahams, so to think my grandfather was his true friend.
“For someone like Frank, if you like him, he raises his voice at that moment and makes a name for himself, it makes me proud because he makes me feel good.”
Ludlam gave Faulkner a sacred shirt before a recent game at Franklin Gardens, with Anderson’s name written on the back (166).
Where Anderson’s story is published, there are plans to teach it in local schools such as Tull’s story.
Ludlam said: “It was a great story and what I learned broke.”
“Before this week, I didn’t think much about black history – obviously I knew about it, but a story like Frank’s shows how important it is and repeats itself. It’s important and it inspired a generation.”