YA History: Steve Stacey in England

Discussion in 'Yanks Abroad' started by Dave Marino-Nachison, Jun 1, 2021.

  1. Dave Marino-Nachison

    Jun 9, 1999
    Here's a name I'd never heard before:

    Though he was unaware of it at the time, when Stacey made his debut for Wrexham in 1966, he was the first player of Afro-American heritage to play in the Football League. Three years later, representing Ipswich Town against Liverpool, he became the first to appear in the top tier of the English game.

    Born in Bristol in 1944, Stacey’s father was a black American, born in Mississippi and then serving with the US forces in England. His mother was a local girl and he was brought up by her family, not meeting his father until the 1980s. Stacey takes pride in his middle name, ‘Darrow’, a mark of respect for Clarence Darrow, the famous US civil rights lawyer.


    He is alive and published this book in 2019:


    More bio:

    Stacey started his career at Bristol City Football Club, before joining Wrexham in Wales. A stint at Ipswich came next, before a return to Bristol City, which was followed by tenures at Exeter Football Club and Bath City. He emigrated with his wife, Dorothy, and two children to Australia in 1974, where he continued to play football whilst also adding coaching to his skillset.

    At nearly 40 years of age, Steve managed to track down his father in the US. The experience opened his eyes to the suffering of black communities in the States, including Kemper County, where his father was born and raised, and the infamous "killing fields" for African Americans. His book, The Colour of Football, is Steve's story - growing up, playing football, and discovering his ancestral roots.

  2. Sandon Mibut

    Sandon Mibut Member+

    Feb 13, 2001

    Thanks for finding this and sharing it, Dave.
    Winoman repped this.
  3. Dave Marino-Nachison

    Jun 9, 1999
    I ordered his book -- hope to get it (from the UK) soon and give it a look.
    Winoman and felloveranddidanadu repped this.
  4. Dave Marino-Nachison

    Jun 9, 1999
    I recently finished this book. It was an interesting read, certainly worth the time and expense (less than $20).


    A capsule review: It's a memoir, of parts memory and parts research. He clearly read a lot of newspaper clippings to piece together events, but in a few cases he appears not to have found what he needed; consequently, in some places, you're reading stuff like "We beat So-and-So FC that day, 3-1 I believe; I think Jonesy scored a hat trick..." It arguably adds to the charm.

    For a book about a player with an unusual place in soccer history, and with a title like "The Colour of Football," it's probably worth noting that most of the story is not really "about race" -- which is to say that in the parts of the book that are about his English life and career, which is most of it, racial issues aren't portrayed as a defining part of his experience or identity. In a few cases, something happens (a rough tackle, say) and he wonders whether it might've been influenced by race, but concludes that he can't be sure, doesn't name names, and leaves it at that. So if you're expecting a searing tell-all, this isn't that.

    He does, however, clearly think in racial terms when contemplating what might be called his American identity, which came up more as a child who didn't know his birth father -- an American soldier he says was not permitted to marry the mother of his child, though her family would've supported it -- and, much later, found him in the U.S., with results that seemed to be significant if not entirely satisfying to him.

    Nevertheless, it's an interesting perspective on English soccer and life in the 1960s and thereafter. He worked his way up, essentially from the bottom, and made it pretty far, to be undone by injury issues. It doesn't appear U.S. Soccer was aware of him during his playing days or, if it was, they never reached out.

    I'm glad I read it. It adds a lot to a part of the American soccer timeline, in my view.
    Winoman repped this.

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