I thought members might like to read the whole piece:
In an effort to try to raise funds for the widows and families of men who had lost their lives in the Zulu War, a Mr Brewer of Fartown in Sheffield decided to get together a team of players from the Sheffield area to play charity matches and donate the funds raised to that particular cause.
In order to make the project as authentic as possible, the players decided to wear Zulu regalia, and managed to get hold of Zulu weapons picked up from the ships which soldiers had brought back from the conflict as war trophies. They adopted what they thought were Zulu names. Most of the names were genuine, such as Cetshwayo, the Zulu King; Sihayo, whose kraal was the first to be attacked when the British invaded, and Dabulamanzi, who led the Zulu attack on the garrison at Rorke’s Drift’ However, one of them called himself Jiggleumbengo, which was pushing it a bit. They even blackened their faces with cork, which would of course be frowned upon in modern times. They usually did a tour of the towns in which they were playing to promote interest in the matches, and Thomas Buttery, who was Cetshwayo, went among the spectators at the matches to sell programmes before the kick-off. They also performed their version of a Zulu tribal dance to entertain the crowd, brandishing their assegais and shields.
As it happened, the real Zulus had gained some degree of notoriety in Britain after the initial phases of the war, when hundreds of British soldiers of the 24th (2nd Warwickshire) Regiment had been massacred at Isandlwana on 22 January 1879; and a party of soldiers of the 80th (South Staffordshire) Regiment had been massacred on the banks of the River Ntombe on 11 March 1879. Contemporary news reports from Nottingham, Dublin and Glasgow refer to black men being heckled, abused or even assaulted after being accused to be Zulus. However, it also meant that the word ‘Zulu’ invoked curiosity, which was exploited by the football team.
Some of the players were well-known footballers in the region. Thomas Buttery had played against the Royal Engineers during their Northern Tour in 1873, and on 14 October 1878, he appeared for Reds against Blues at Bramall Lane in the first ever match aided by electric lights. Jack Hunter became an FA Cup winner in 1883, playing for Blackburn Olympic, the first ‘working class’ club to win the trophy. James Lang played for Sheffield Wednesday, being employed by one of the club officials. This was a ploy which came to be known as Shamateurism.
The Zulus began their series of matches in Scarborough, before taking on a strong selected XI from Sheffield before 2000 spectators at Bramhall Lane, which they won 5-4. Their first two games had generated considerable interest among the general public which encouraged them to start a tour of other towns. Next came a match held in bad conditions on 24 November 1879 at the Recreation Ground in Chesterfield, which resulted in a 2-2 draw. A 2-1 win over Notts and Derby Lambs, was followed by a 6-0 thrashing of Barnsley Victoria and District.
It was clear from the outset that the Sheffield Zulus were a popular fixture, which resulted in them receiving an invitation to play in Scotland. However, their exploits north of the border were not so successful. On 21 April 1880, they lost 7-0 to Queen’s Park at Hampden Park in Glasgow; and 2000 people turned up at Easter Park on the Christmas Day of 1880, but they lost 6-0 to Hibernian.
It was a time when football was considered to be a recreational game, and it was frowned upon for players to be paid for appearances. The project eventually ran into controversy when FA officials started to get reports that the Zulus were being paid for their appearances. William Pierce-Dix, honorary secretary of the Sheffield FA and a well-known referee, was fiercely opposed to professionals. The Football Association got involved and the Zulus were no more.