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Palace Pioneers: Tony Collins

October 26 2010

Tony Collins

Tony Collins

In Black History Month, we recognise Tony Collins who was Crystal Palace's first black player.

Collins was mixed race and one of the few players of African-Caribbean heritage to appear in the Football League during the 1950s.

Manager Cyril Spiers signed the outside left from Watford three months into the 1957/58 campaign.

Palace were languishing in the lower reaches of the old Third Division (South) and a disappointing season saw them eventually plumet into the new Fourth Division.

Collins netted five goals in 20 appearances - including the team's only hat-trick of the season against Walsall in January.

Back in the country's bottom tier Palace performed better but failed to come back up at the first attempt. They finished seventh as Kensington-born Collins notched 11 goals in 41 appearances.

Collins moved onto Rochdale and became the country's first black manager when he was appointed Dale boss a year later. He led Rochdale to the League Cup final in 1962, despite being in the Fourth Division.

Tony Collins 1957-59. Appearances 61, Goals 16.

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