A PLAQUE commemorating Wales’ first black international footballer has been installed at his birthplace in Chepstow.

Saturday, February 27, marked the 50th anniversary of the death of John Edward “Eddie” Parris.

His career spanned 21 years, from 1927 to 1948, amassing 268 league appearances and scoring 60 goals.

At the age of 20 the left-winger, then with Second Division side Bradford Park Avenue, made his one and only appearance for the Welsh national team in Belfast on December 5, 1931 when Wales lost 4-0 to Ireland.

South Wales Argus: Eddie Parris during his time at Luton

Eddie Parris during his playing days at Luton

He was born on January 31, 1911 at Ivy Cottage, Pwllmeyric, just outside Chepstow.

In 1927, at the age of just 16, he started his professional career at Chepstow Town AFC.

It had been planned to hold a commemorative event on February 27, 2021 at the Chepstow Town ground.

A plaque commemorating Mr Parris was to be presented to the club. However, due to the coronavirus restrictions at the time, the event could not be held.


Instead, the plaque has been installed at Mr Parris’ place of birth recording his career: Chepstow Town, Bradford Park Avenue, Bournemouth, Luton, Northampton, Gloucester City and Cheltenham Town.

South Wales Argus: Eddie Parris' plaque Picture: John Charters

Eddie Parris plaque. Picture: John Charters

South Wales Argus: Eddie Parris' plaque Picture: John Charters

Eddie Parris plaque. Picture: John Charters

In November 1933, a journalist in the Sports Argus mentioned Eddie Parris and said: “Football is a great athletic pastime, good for all men and for all nations, and it should not matter the nationality of any man providing he plays the game earnestly and intelligently.”

Much has been written about Mr Parris by Professor Martin Jhones of Swansea University and, more recently, by historians Bill Hern and David Gleave, authors of the book Football’s Black Pioneers.

Before the outbreak of the Second World War Mr Parris had been contracted to play for Gloucester City, now in the Southern Wartime League Western Section.

He moved to Gloucester in October 1939 andstarted work at the Gloster Aircraft Company at Brockworth which manufactured military aircraft such as Hawker Hurricanes, Hawker Typhoon and the Gloster Meteor.

After a short spell at Cheltenham Town Mr Parris returned to Gloucester in 1947 as player coach.

The last record of Mr Parris playing football was printed in the Gloucester Citizen on April 20, 1948, having played for Gloucester City Colts and scoring four of six goals against Longford.

Mr Parris and wife Agnes lived in Gloucester until his death in 1971.

A plaque commemorating Mr Parris is now at his birthplace in Pwllmeyric and perhaps one day he will be similarly recognised in Chepstow and by the Football Association of Wales.

His parents, Jack and Annie, have no such memorial. They are buried in unmarked graves.

However, this is to change. Permission has been granted for the graves, at St John the Evangelist Church, Beachley, to be appropriately marked.

Mr Parris’ father, Jack, was born in Barbados on October 3, 1874 - just 40 years after slavery finally ended and 70,000 slaves were freed on the island.

Around 1900, he travelled the 4,200 miles to Britain, where he became a trained General Post Office Linesman and lived in Tutshill.

On October 2, 1909, at Chepstow Register Office, Jack Parris married white widowed 24-year-old Annie Alford.

South Wales Argus: Eddie Parris in his playing days at Bradford

Eddie Parris during his time at Bradford

During the First World War, Jack Parris was enlisted in the Army at Newport with the Royal Engineers as he was a qualified telegraph linesman.

Normally, at that time a black man would have been enlisted in the British West Indies Regiment.

His enrolment papers record his age as 36. He did not know his correct date of birth and was actually 42. At that age he would have been exempt from military service.

He was sent to Salonika, Greece, to take part in the campaign on the Macedonian front, but was invalided back home at the end of the war after suffering burns during an accident in camp.

Mr Parris’ mother Annie came from what had once been a relatively well-off family in Staffordshire.

However, when she was born her mother was living at Leicester Union Workhouse.

Nothing further is known about Jack and Annie until September 1939, when they were living at 7 Tubular Cottage, Beachley Road, Tutshill.

Jack Parris was working as a general labourer in Chepstow shipyard.

Living with them is their daughter-in-law Agnes who married their son Eddie.

South Wales Argus: Eddie and his wife Agnes Parris

Agnes and Eddie Parris

Annie sadly passed away on February 10, 1944, she was 58 years old.

Jack Parris died, aged 78, on 17 March 1953 at the Royal Gwent Hospital, Newport. Jack and Annie are buried in separate unmarked graves at St John the Evangelist Churchyard, Beachley.

Production of two plaques will be crowdfunded online. For more information, email parrisappeal@gmail.com

  • Thanks go to John Charters for his help in researching the life of Eddie Parris.