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Street on Red House Gardens named in memory of Fergus Suter

A footballer who made his name as the first-ever player to be paid a wage has been honoured by having a Blackburn street named in his memory.

Glasgow-born Fergus Suter moved to England to play for Darwen FC in 1878 and gave up his trade as a stonemason soon after. He led Darwen to become the first northern side to reach the quarter-finals of the FA Cup.

Two years later goalkeeper Fergus moved on to play for Blackburn Rovers, which sparked even more of a fierce rivalry between the two teams.

He was the first player to be paid a wage, as the sport was known to be amateur at the time.

Blackburn with Darwen Council has worked with residential property development company Wainhomes for the past two years to build the houses on Fergus Manor, located near Bolton Road.

The name came about as the developers asked for something a bit different to catch the eye of buyers.

Darwen councillor Dave Smith said: “I am pleased that the developers have recognised Fergus Suter in the naming of this new street.

“Fergie Suter was probably the world’s first professional footballer and having played for both Darwen FC and Blackburn Rovers FC, it’s appropriate that his name will live on near the boundary of the two towns.”

Fergie played for Partick between 1876 and 1878 before moving south of the border and turning out for Darwen FC between 1878 and 1880.

He then made the move to Rovers and played for them for nine years until 1889.

Fergie’s career was all but over by the time the Football League formed in 1888. He made only one appearance for Blackburn Rovers in that competition, on December 22, 1888, against West Bromwich Albion as a replacement for Herbie Arthur.

He appeared in four FA Cup finals, and after Blackburn were runners-up to Old Etonians in 1882, he collected three winner’s medals, in 1884, 1885 and 1886.

In later life he ran the Millstone Hotel in Darwen, and died in Blackpool in 1916.

In 2012, author Keith Dewhurst told the story of Darwen’s 1879 FA Cup heroes - including Fergie.

At the time, football was dominated by the amateur clubs in the south, and Old Etonians had twice been runners-up in the FA Cup.

But times were changing and Darwen, who had just brought in the first professionals to play the sport – Fergus Suter and James Love, from Scottish club Partick – were real innovators.

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