The Nigerian Governor’s 1949 Letter to The English FA

Early 1949, the English Football Association’s Match Permit Committee received letters from the Nigerian Football Association and the Gold Coast (Ghana) Football Association. Both associations requested permission for their national teams to visit the United Kingdom and play football matches against English amateur clubs. The requests were approved in February 1949 and the Nigerian Football team toured England later that year {August 29 — September 29} while the Gold Coast (Ghana) Football team toured England in 1951.

In May 1949, the Governor of Nigeria, John Macpherson, sent a letter to the English Football Association regarding the upcoming tour. This was the first time that a Black African football team would tour in England.

We in Nigeria are very grateful to the English Football Association, to which the Nigerian Football Association is affiliated, for inviting a team of Nigerian footballers to visit England to play a series of matches against some of the leading English amateur clubs and against teams from the Isthmian, Corinthian and Athenian Leagues.
I am very happy to learn that, although the matches will not take place until September, the visit is already arousing a great deal of interest in the United Kingdom. I can assure the teams against whom our footballers will play, and all who hope to watch the matches, that here in Nigeria the interest and the excitement are intense.
I often watch matches here in Nigeria and I am invariably impressed by the good sportsmanship not only of the players but of the large and enthusiastic crowds of spectators. I know that the same friendly sporting spirit will be shown by the English teams against who they play and by the spectators who attend the matches.
Too many of the people of the United Kingdom have had little opportunity to learn about the colonies and their peoples. This visit will help the people of Nigeria and of the United Kingdom to get to know each other, and I am sure that the result will be satisfactory — and heart-warming to both. I have spent more than twenty-eight years in the service of Colonial people. They are my friends. We have learned from each other. There is much that we of the ‘home country’ can be proud of in our Colonial record, and I believe that high on that list we can place our passing on of our love for games — football, perhaps, most of all.
I very much regret that I shall not be in England to watch the matches. But I am confident that our players will be good ambassadors from Nigeria and that the visit will cement the friendly feelings between the peoples of the two countries.

2nd May 1949.

J.S. Macpherson, Governor.