Raising funds for a statue to honour the footballer denied an England cap in 1925, just because he was black.
We Did It!!!
A message from Greg and Matt
We planned this campaign last year, started early this year, and launched the Crowdfunder Appeal on 1st July with an ambitious target of raising a minimum £100k within a six week period.
Now with your help we have reached it!
Nearly 2000 people have contributed amounts from £1 and we have had hundreds of positive comments on the Crowdfunder page.
We did this without a paid fundraiser or advertising, so thank you all for donating and sharing news of the campaign. This really has been a people’s campaign and we thank you all!
We are grateful for all who have contributed their money, their gifts and prizes, their art works and their ideas – too numerous for this post but we will do a proper thank-you in due course!
We’ve had this message from Argyle Chairman, Simon Hallett, too who has been hugely supportive.
“I’d like to congratulate The Jack Leslie Campaign on reaching its goal of raising the £100,00 necessary to fund a statue of one of Argyle’s great players at Home Park. This campaign got going a few months after the Club named our boardroom in the Mayflower Grandstand after Jack, but the effort has been planned, organised and brilliantly executed solely by a group of fans. That’s important – the Club has supported the campaign but wanted it to be clear that Argyle and its fans stand together in fighting racism and recognising one of its victims. Jack was not just a great footballer. He has become a symbol of the injustices in our game and in our society. I hope that, when we have his statue up, it will become an enduring symbol of the progress we can make in fighting the evil of racism.”
Our fundraising effort has been helped massively by being hosted on the Crowdfunder platform. The team has been fantastic in providing advice and support throughout and we are delighted the project has been a success for them and us.
Rob Love CEO Crowdfunder said, “Wow. Congratulations to all involved in the Jack Leslie campaign. We are looking forward to seeing the statue go up after such an amazing amount of hard work and public generosity. This campaign is exactly what we hoped people could achieve through the Crowdfunder platform. Enabling good people to secure funding for causes and issues that bring about positive change and ultimately make our society a better place. The team has done tremendously well, and galvanised support to right history. We are pleased to be providing the platform fee free, and covering transaction charges to ensure all money donated goes direct to the cause.”
AND NOW THE NEXT CHALLENGE!
We can confirm that thanks to your generosity there will be a statue of Jack Leslie outside Home Park. But having reached our initial target with such positivity, we are encouraged to go further.
More money enables us to have a bigger, better statue.
It also allows us to begin work on our aspirations to tell the Jack Leslie story, and use his story to challenge prejudice and discrimination.
We will continue, at least in the short term, to raise money with our stretch target in place to ensure the best possible memorial to Jack. There are several offers in the pipeline and we would like to see some business and corporate support to match the generous donations made by individuals.
We will begin the process of a tender for the best possible statue design. That is the fun bit… and now it’s real! We will, of course, consult on proposals.
We will also begin preparing educational materials to ensure we can use this campaign to promote and share Jack’s story, as well as challenge prejudice and discrimination.
Keep an eye on this site, and twitter for updates
Everything we do will be guided by and consistent with the aims and objectives on our home page.
Jack played 401 games for Plymouth Argyle, scoring 137 goals, often in partnership with club legend Sammy Black.
Jack finished up, post-retirement at West Ham and many fans and former players have been supportive. The campaign have asked West Ham United for support.
Moving forward, we hope to engage with the Premier League, EFL, and all football clubs that are taking positive steps to challenge discrimination. To do this, we have secured an offer of support from the PFA, and will be doing partnership work with the FSA.
We have been kindly gifted a signed shirt by the players of Liverpool FC -which we have yet to auction or raffle. We also have a rather special bottle of whisky, and several more art-works.
Once it is safe to do so, we plan to hold some live events- and the Green Taverners have offered to host one for us at Home Park to kick that off!
When school restarts, we will be hoping to do some project work within schools – and of course aiming to have materials ready for black history month in October.
Thanks to all the volunteers who have helped us and everyone who has supported us so far. This is just the beginning of the story of the Jack Leslie statue you will have helped to build.
Livestream with Special Guests including Josh Widdicombe, Ronnie Mauge and Raffle Draw – Mon 10th Aug: 8-9pm
To celebrate (we hope!) as we approach our target and the Crowdfunder reaches it’s climax, we are hosting an online event including a raffle draw with some great prizes (especially for Plymouth Argyle fans – bringing it back home for the finale!)
Join us on our Facebook Page at 8pm on Mon 10th Aug to catch up on the campaign and hear the legend, Ronnie Mauge’s thoughts on the statue as well as his love for Plymouth Argyle and comedian and Argyle fan, Josh Widdicombe, who, like us, was at Wembley in 1996 to see Ronnie score the winner! We’ll be joined by Jack’s granddaughters too. Join us!
The fantastic raffle prizes are:
A replica ’96 shirt signed by Ronnie Mauge and Neil Warnock
A shirt signed by the current Argyle squad.
A Rob Bullen print
And 4 tickets to the Home Park dining experience (lunch on 22nd Aug if you need to check your diary!)
The England and West Ham star remembers Jack Leslie as a lovely man who quietly got on with the job of looking after his boots.
Jack Leslie was picked to play for England back in 1925, then denied his England cap when the selection committee realised he was black. The Jack Leslie Campaign wants to right this past wrong and build a statue of Jack at the ground where he was a club legend, Home Park in Plymouth.
Jack Leslie was a prolific goal scorer who was born in East London and played for Plymouth Argyle from 1921-1934, scoring 137 goals in 401 appearances. He was the only professional black footballer playing in England for much of his career and was a popular figure at Argyle where he helped the team win a championship and promotion, toured South America and became club captain, probably the first black player to do so in the professional game. In his later years he returned to East London and after retiring from his trade as a boilermaker, he was offered a job by West Ham manager Ron Greenwood. He worked in the club’s “boot room” for fifteen years shining the leathers of World Cup winners like Bobby Moore, Geoff Hurst and Martin Peters. And it’s where he met the young Sir Trevor Brooking.
Sir Trevor said, “I remember Jack very well. He was a lovely guy who would do anything for you. In those days we only had two pairs of boots for the whole season, one with long studs and one with rubber studs for hard grounds. Jack looked after all of us brilliantly in a quiet, unassuming manner. The incredible thing though was that none of us – me, Geoff Hurst or Bobby Moore included – knew he was a player! Jack never mentioned it; that was how humble he was. I was amazed when I read about the campaign and heard about Jack’s history in the game. I just wish he’d told us at the time, but that was Jack and I’m only too delighted to support the campaign for a statue to be erected at Home Park in his honour.”
Trevor Brooking played 647 games for The Irons, winning two FA Cups including in 1980 when he scored the only goal. He also won 47 England Caps. Playing alongside him from 1968 to 1976 was Clyde Best, one of the first black footballers of the modern age, who scored 58 goals in 221 outings in a West Ham shirt. Like Sir Trevor, he didn’t know Jack had been a professional player, but remembers him fondly.
Clyde said, “It tells you what he was like. He never boasted or shouted out. He just did what he had to do and he did a great job, not only for myself but all the other guys at West Ham. We would call him Uncle Jack and go and pick up our boots from him when we had away trips or brought him in after a home game and he would look after everything for us. At the time I played it was tough, but finding out what Jack had to go through, I’m sure it was a lot harder. He would have been by himself, just like I was by myself and it makes you a different individual when you have to face that. I’m just glad that people have joined together to get something that he richly deserves, a statue.”
The Jack Leslie Campaign is keen to see Jack recognised in East London as well as in Plymouth and urges West Ham fans to support the campaign. In nearby Essex, Barking FC has committed to raising a significant sum to create a memorial to Jack at the club where he began his career in non-league football as a teenager. Now we hope there could be recognition at West Ham United too.
Campaign Co-Founder Matt Tiller said, ‘We are delighted to see legends of the game support the statue and it’s even more amazing to hear those memories of Jack from the likes of Sir Trevor Brooking and Clyde Best. It just makes it even more meaningful; the fact that he never boasted about his man achievements or showed bitterness at the England rejection. A memorial to Jack at West Ham and Barking as well as Plymouth Argyle, of course, would tell the full story of his life in football.”
Jack’s family are West Ham fans and had a close connection with the club during the time he worked there.
Jack Leslie’s granddaughter Lyn Davies said, “I remember going to Trevor Brooking’s testimonial, he was a real hero of ours and Jack loved working with him too, they got on really well. I can’t believe he didn’t tell him about his football career, but that was granddad. He didn’t make a big thing of his achievements but he clearly made an impression on the people he worked with at West Ham. It’s wonderful to hear such lovely memories from legends like Sir Trevor and Clyde Best.’
Campaign Co-Founder, Greg Foxsmith said, “We hope that Sir Trevor’s support will raise awareness and gain support from West Ham FC and their fans, as well as other Premier League clubs, who should unite to support this campaign and kick out racism.”