1945 – Albert Osakwe, Oxford University captain

In the first half of the 20th Century it was a rare for black footballers to play professionally in England, so it was a surprise to me when I came across Albert Osakwe, who captained the Oxford University side against Cambridge University at Dulwich Hamlet in 1945.

Oxford and Cambridge captains shake hands before game at Dulwich Hamlet.

1945 – Oxford and Cambridge captains shake hands before game at Dulwich Hamlet. Note the wonderfully marked out centre-spot.

University sport in England has never really hit the heights that it has in the United States. The only event that even comes close to the American college football matches is the boat race between Oxford and Cambridge. It’s not just the boat race that Oxford and Cambridge compete against one another, varsity rugby games and football games have been regular fixtures over the years.

The Cambridge side Osakwe's Oxford faced.

1945 – The Cambridge side Osakwe’s Oxford faced.

After the second world war, the varsity football matches between Cambridge and Oxford resumed, with one of the first matches being held at the famous non-league club Dulwich Hamlet in London.

Captains

1945 – Captains

Not only did Oxford University include Albert Osakwe, from Lagos in Nigeria, in their line-up, he also captained the Oxford University side. Playing at inside-left he scored in his side’s 2-1 victory over Cambridge in 1944. However, he could not repeat his goal-scoring exploits in 1945, with the two teams playing out a 1-1 draw.

1944 - Goal scorer

1944 – Goal scorer

Albert Osakwe, inside-left, captain, goalscorer, trailblazer and nice jumper.

All images and information from the excellent http://www.britishnewspaperarchive.co.uk/