Arthur Wharton was the world's first black professional footballer, and the first African to play professional cricket in Yorkshire and Lancashire leagues. Those promoting Empire as an expression of white supremacy found him a supreme irritation, and he eventually died in poverty.
Phil Vasili was born in London but grew up in Cambridge. He now lives back in Kentish Town, London very close to where he was born. As a boy he dreamed of becoming a professional footballer. His mum wanted him to be a dentist (like her father) while his father wanted him to work alongside in an electronics factory. Though he played at representative and semi-professional level he never achieved his ambition of becoming a full-time pro. He now coaches at youth level and scouts in London for a northern premiership club.
Writing, like football, is a passion he has had since childhood. He wrote his first book length manuscript in his late teens. 'A load of pretentious tosh' it is browning at the edges in a cupboard in his study! However, it was, he admits, good practice. Unable to separate his obsessions he writes mainly about footballers, having had published two biographies and a social history.
He has also written a novel 'Felt and Batten' and drama scripts. He was executive producer of 'Antonio's Breakfast' which won the 2006 short film (drama) BAFTA.
Phil has four children, Andrea, Fionnulla, Alex and Louisa and a granddaughter, Coco Brooks, daughter of Fionnulla and Darren.
Writing is a punishing self-indulgence that hardens you: 'you're constantly broke, eat crap food and have a cabbie's knowledge of local charity shops and poundsaver locations but what else are you going to do?' And, sitting on your backside for hours on end makes the attraction of marching against capitalism and for socialism even more exciting.