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About the Author - Phil Vasili

At a Black and Asian Studies Association (BASA) conference at Nottingham in October, 1993, David Killingray, a historian of Blacks in the British armed forces asked if, while researching the history of Black footballers in Britain, I had come across Walter Tull.

I had, briefly, in Maurice Golesworthy’s Encyclopaedia of Association Football under Coloured Players. He is listed as D. Tull, forward with Northampton Town (then Southern League), Tottenham Hotspur, 1908-1914.  A founder member of BASA, Marika Sherwood had also sent me a note mentioning Walter Tulland his older brother Edward, encountered while she was perusing the League of Coloured People’s News Letter from 1940. Edward was correcting his friend Harold Moody’s assertion that his son Charles Arundel Moody had recently become the first Black infantry officer in the British Army, reminding readers that Walter had achieved that status some 23 years earlier.

Neither Killingray nor Sherwood were pursuing Walter but wondered if I was. I hadn’t been with any great effort, until these casual enquiries. Close by verdant Sherwood Forest, I was beginning to see the wood for the trees. Probing, poking and delving it appeared there had been no previous research into his life. Yet his status as a footballer and officer suggested a much more significant figure in Black and working class British history than Golesworthy’s few lines indicated. That’s how my Tull journey started sixteen years ago.

Phil Vasili's previous books include The First Black Footballer. Arthur Wharton 1865-1930. An Absence of Memory (Edinburgh: Mainstream 2000) and Colouring Over the White Line. A History of Black Footballers in Britain (London: Frank Cass 1998).


Lovingly researched, Sukhdev Sandhu, Guardian Saturday Review, 3 April, 1999.

The deeds of Arthur Wharton have been exhumed…thanks to Phil Vasili’s brilliant Burke and Hare job, Simon Turnbull, Independent on Sunday, Section 2,  22 November 1998.

A labour of love…has rescued this black hero from obscurity, Eddie Gibb, The Scotsman WeekEnd, 22 August 1998..

Mr Vasili is passionate about Arthur and the iniquities of his life, Richard Pendlebury, Daily Mail, 27 November 1997.

A welcome addition to academic works on sport, Desmond Davies, West Africa, 21 December, 1998.

What may turn out to be the [sports!] book of the decade, Peter Markie, Sheffield Telegraph, 2 October, 1998.

Football Enthusiast Vasili is clearly engaged on a mission here of rehabilitation
and reconciliation, Richard Voeltz, International Journal of African Historical Studies, 1999.

Phil Vasili’s book succeeds ably…exhaustively researched…packed with valuable historical information…will undoubtedly become required reading, Andrew Ritchie, International Journal of the History of Sport, March 1999.

Journalistic persistence and exhaustive research, Four Four Two, April, 1999.

The story it tells is absolutely compelling, BBC Focus on Africa

'Colouring Over The White Line...' - Book Reviews

Independent Book of the Week, 24 April, 2000

Featured in ‘Buy the Book’, Daily Telegraph, 3 April, 2000

A groundbreaking new book…provides a fascinating insight into soccer’s pioneers, Caribbean Times, 31 March 2000.

The stories he unearths are…warm and moving, Total Football, May 2000. 

Phil Vasili’s…chapters on black players who graced English football…are fascinating and revealing, Brian Glanville, The Sunday Times, 9 April, 2000


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