Tuesday, April 9, 2013

9 April 1922 - The Launch Of The Black Arrow

On 9 April 1922, forward Gil Heron, the first black footballer to play for Celtic, was born in Kingston, Jamaica.

Although he was born in Jamaica, he moved to Canada as a child and later enlisted in the Canadian Air Force and played football for their team. When his military service ended, he turned professional, starring for the Detroit Corinthians and the Detroit Wolverines. There, he caught the attention of a Celtic scout who invited him to Glasgow for a trial in 1951 then signed him to a contract later that year.

He made his debut in a Scottish League Cup match against Morton on 18 August, scoring a goal in the 2-0 win. But although gifted with pace that prompted supporters to nickname him "the Black Arrow," he struggled to handle the physical side of the Scottish game and stayed with Celtic for only one season, making a total of five appearances and scoring only one other goal.

Upon leaving Celtic in 1952, he spent a season with Third Lanark and one with Kidderminster Harriers before returning to Detroit. He continued to follow Celtic with interest until his death at the age of 86.

In addition to his milestone achievement with Celtic, Heron is also known as the father of celebrated musician and poet Gil Scott-Heron.

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