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Tommy Best

1949–1950  Cardiff City
Playing position  Centre forward
Name  Tommy Best

Years  Team
Role  Footballer
1947–1949  Chester City
Position  Forward
Tommy Best wwwchestercitycouktommybest150pxjpg
Date of birth  (1920-12-23) 23 December 1920 (age 94)

Place of birth  Milford Haven, Wales

Thomas Hubert "Tommy" Best (born 23 December 1920) is a Welsh former professional footballer who played as a centre forward. A veteran of the Second World War, serving in the Royal Navy, he made over 70 appearances in the Football League for Chester, Cardiff City and Queens Park Rangers. Best was the first black professional footballer to play at the top level in Ireland and was also the first black player to appear for Chester in the Football League.

Early life

Best was born in Milford Haven to a Barbadian father and Welsh mother.

Ireland

Best joined the Royal Navy as a teenager and was stationed aboard HMS Gloman, a Minesweeper vessel. When the ship was damaged by a German air raid, it docked in Pollock Dock at Belfast Harbour and the chief petty officer on the ship introduced Best to the football teams in the area. Best attended a match between Belfast Celtic and Drumcondra in the Dublin and Belfast Inter-City Cup at Grosvenor Park and was asked to play when Drumcondra proved to be short of a full team. He played against Ireland international Bertie Fulton in the match, scoring one of Drumcondra's goals, and impressed enough to be offered a deal with Belfast Celtic. He was given the nickname "Darkie Best" during his spell at the club, although Best maintained that any reference to his skin colour was affectionate, later stating: "I was never subjected to racial comments by anybody – team-mates, officials or supporters. Indeed, I looked upon Belfast as my second home." By playing for Celtic, Best became the first black professional player to appear at the top level in Ireland at the age of 19. He spent one season with the club, playing alongside internationals such as Jimmy McAlinden and Norman Kernaghan. Best also played for fellow Irish side Cliftonville and went on to play football in Queensland, Australia after being stationed there.

Football League

In July 1947, Best joined Chester after a successful trial, making his move into the professional game at the late age of 26 due to the hostilities. He made a goalscoring debut for the club on 23 August 1947 in a 2–1 win over Oldham Athletic, becoming the first black player to represent the Blues in the Football League. He scored 14 goals in 40 league appearances for Chester and, after his first season, attracted attention from a number of clubs, including Blackpool and Blackburn Rovers, but eventually chose a move to Cardiff City for a fee of £7,000. His fee was a club record at the time and would stand until the sale of Billy Foulkes to Newcastle United in 1951. He spent just over one season at Ninian Park before joining Queens Park Rangers. He later had spells with non-league sides Milford Haven, Hereford United and Bromsgrove Rovers.

Later life

Following his retirement from football, Best worked in a Mother's Pride bakery. He retired to live in Hereford.

References

Tommy Best Wikipedia


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