It’s not often I come across something as strange as this squad, but when you are surfing Wikipedia’s defunct English football squads page, you are bound to come across something good.
The Zulus were one of England’s first professional squads. In a time of hard-line amateur play, this caused a bit of a stir. What made The Zulus truly stand out was their *ahem* commitment to playing the part. From the Wiki:
They played in an all black kit and decorated themselves with beads and feathers. Instead of using their own names they also adopted Zulu names such as Ulmathoosi.
Lest you doubt that this was not quite the sight, let’s take a look at their garb.
While there is no mention of these guys (all English players, of course) playing in black face, they did have a few other ornamental touches. SASoccer365.com notes the following:
. . . these highly experienced footballers (who also used assegais and shields as part of their regalia) performed tribal dances before each game.
Eventually the team was forced to disband, as their Professional status caused the local amateur teams to fall by the wayside. An important local tournament had to be canceled in 1881 because there were not enough amateur players to field teams. On the upside for all of us at this blog, The Zulus can be cited as an early force of change for moving the game from its amateur roots to the lovely money-grubbing game we all follow slavishly today.
Image liberated from www.historicalkits.co.uk