Eddie Parris – Wales’ first black footballer

Eddie Parris, who was born at Pwllmeyric near Chepstow, played his one and only international against Northern Ireland in Belfast in 1931 – nearly half a century before England’s first black player was awarded an international cap.

John Edward Parris (31 January 1911 – 1971), known as Eddie or Ted Parris, was a Welsh international footballer, who played for Bradford Park Avenue, AFC Bournemouth, Luton Town, Bath City, Northampton Town and Cheltenham Town. He was the first black player to represent Wales in an international.
His parents had come to Wales from Jamaica. He was born in or near Chepstow, Monmouthshire, Wales, possibly at Pwllmeyric.
He played for Chepstow Town F.C. before his talents were spotted by scouts for Bradford Park Avenue F.C., at the time a leading club, and he was signed as a triallist in 1928. He made his debut in January 1929, scoring his team’s only goal in a drawn F.A. Cup match against Hull, and thereafter established a regular first-team place at left wing. In his career at Bradford Park Avenue, he played 142 League and Cup games and scored 39 goals.
In December 1931 Parris made his first and only appearance for Wales against Ireland in Belfast, becoming the first black player to represent Wales in an international. Although sometimes cited as the first black player to play for any of the ‘home countries’, research now suggests that in fact the first was the Scotland player Andrew Watson.
Parris suffered an injury in 1934, and later played for Bournemouth (1934–37), Luton, Northampton, Bath City, Cheltenham Town and Gloucester City. He later worked in an aeroplane factory, and died in Gloucestershire, England in 1971.
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