Black History Month: The Watsons of AmericFootball

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The United States has over 100 years of football history. Much of this has yet to be told. Leagues don’t have the bandwidth to cover it, which lets sports history clubs and fans find out. Recently, the Society for American Soccer History produced an incredible relationship about Fred and Oliver Watson, the first known African American footballers in the United States.

Oliver (born 1872) and Fred (born 1875) Watson were born in Rhode Island and on September 26, 1894 the Pawtucket YMCA soccer team hired Oliver Watson to play for their team. That day they played against the Fall River Olympics and as Pawtucket YMCA was shattered by a score of 8-2, Oliver scored a goal. He became the first African American to score in a football match.

A year later, Fred also joined the team and they were the first African Americans to play in a football match in this country. In 1901, they both became the first to win a league championship when they were part of the Rhode Island Amateur League’s Attleboro and Dodgeville team.

Fred lined up as a defender, playing mostly full-back but eventually switched to center-back. Oliver, or Allie as he was known to his teammates, …

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