The recent announcement that a couple of Clapton pre-season friendlies will form a competition called the Walter Tull Cup is a credible attempt by Vincent McBean to align his ‘club’ with one of England’s most famous footballing sons. In recent years there have been numerous articles written, (our own included – link) as well as radio programmes, tv documentaries, a film and a stage show, all on Walter Tull. All such efforts can only be for good and, should they raise awareness of Tull, his achievements and bravery, then they are to be applauded and encouraged.
Unfortunately, in announcing the Walter Tull Cup on his website article, (see The Legend of Walter Tull,) Mr McBean is shockingly ill-informed as to Tull’s football career.
As most Clapton supporters will know, Walter Tull did not make his ‘professional’ debut with Clapton at the Old Spotted Dog ground.. Clapton were a staunchly amateur club and, it was only when he joined Tottenham Hotspur in 1909, that he joined the professional ranks in the Football League. Two years later, after less than 20 appearances for the Spurs, Tull was transferred to Northampton Town of the Southern League for a considerable fee. In 1914, he was lined up to play for Glasgow Rangers when the War was over. As we know, this never happened for Walter.
A further bizarre and erroneous statement on the website was that Clapton have “won the FA Cup five times more than many of today’s famous football clubs”. Those with any interest in Clapton FC, or football generally, will probably know that Clapton have never won the FA Cup. One suspects that the confusion may be with the Tons’ successes in the FA Amateur Cup, a very different competition altogether.
Despite this, the idea of a tournament recognising Walter Tull’s achievements can only be for good and one hopes that the idea might be expanded in future to include club in areas which were relevant to Tull’s life. Maybe matches with Folkestone (his birthplace) or Tower Hamlets (where he lived in an orphanage), Northampton or Tottenham. These are all possibilities for the future. However, in promoting the event, it would help that the accompanying information was correct. Credibility is so important, and Walter Tull’s memory deserves that.