WE'VE BUILT THE STATUE, NOW WE'RE TELLING THE STORY
The Lion Who Never Roared Launch
The ‘heart-breaking, yet inspiring’ biography of Plymouth Argyle legend Jack Leslie, The Lion Who Never Roared, launched with a packed event at Home Park on the anniversary of the England game he was selected for. ORDER SIGNED COPIES HERE.
The audience enjoyed a Q&A with author Matt Tiller hosted by The Athletic’s Richard Amofa, who consulted on and contributed to the book. The event was filmed by the National Football Museum and will be released online as part of its Football Writing Festival.
After talking through Jack’s fascinating story, guests were able to ask their own questions delving into the events of 1925 when the exciting young forward was called up for England but then cruelly denied his chance due to the colour of his skin.
Tiller, a lifelong member of the Green Army who co-founded The Jack Leslie Campaign with his friend and fellow fan Greg Foxsmith. The Lion Who Never Roared is now out in hardback and includes a fantastic section of photographs, many from the Leslie family archive.
It is available from the Argyle superstore and Matt will at the outlet by the Jack Leslie statue at midday on 4th November ahead of the Middlesbrough game to sign books. He’ll have Jack’s honorary cap with him for fans to have a look and take photos too.
On 6th November he will be giving a talk in Camberwell, South London – details HERE. And on 16th November in East London – details HERE.
Matt said, “The interest Jack’s story has generated in Plymouth and beyond has blown me away. He lived an incredible and pioneering life and it’s been such a joy to research and write it. The feedback from the crowd about the campaign and book was so lovely to hear and people have already been in touch to say how much they are enjoying it. The questions from a very knowledgeable crowd were challenging too, which kept me on my toes, something I really appreciated.“
Football writer Richard Amofa added, “The turnout was quite humbling – I wasn’t expecting to see so many people there. Better still, it was a diverse crowd, from students to the elderly, from Argyle fans to historians and others who were interested in Jack’s story. Better still, they were fully engaged with the story. This was reflected not only in vast number of questions asked by the audience, but by the breadth and depth of them. It really shows how Jack’s story – one of huge injustice, but also of a wonderful life – has struck a chord with so many people, not just football fans.”
Among around one hundred guests were two of Jack Leslie’s granddaughters Lesley and Lyn who shared their memories too. They said, ‘It was such a lovely evening and to hear how much our grandad’s story has affected people and in such a positive way was heart-warming. We loved being a part of it and are so proud that our family story has been preserved in such a loving way.’
Jack’s legendary striking partner was left-wing Sammy Black, who is still Argyle’s all-time top scorer. His daughter, Gloria, and granddaughter, Tracy, attended the event and shared their memories of the diminutive, yet explosive Scot. Gloria said, ‘He was such a quiet man, you would never believe he had been a great footballer.’ The left-wing partners shared a special bond on the pitch and, although Jack moved back to London after his playing career ended while Sammy stayed in Plymouth, they stayed in touch with Jack visiting Sammy’s home when he visited the city after the Second World War.
You can find out more about The Lion Who Never Roared on the Pitch Publishing site HERE.
Jack Leslie was the first black footballer to be selected to play for England back in 1925, but was not allowed to play because he was black. In 2020 the Jack Leslie Campaign was launched to tell his story, in 2022 a statue of Jack was unveiled in Plymouth, and in 2023 the FA awarded Jack’s family an honorary cap. Read more on the campaign website https://jackleslie.co.uk. (Please also watch Timeline video on homepage)
For Black History Month, we have launched Three Competitions- aimed at (but not exclusively for) years 6, 7 and 8. (See more about our offerings for Black History Month here)
1 (Art/Technical Design) : Design a Campaign Logo!
Design a logo that represents the Jack Leslie Campaign. Can be purely artistic/graphic or can incorporate letters. (it may be helpful for pupils to look at other logos/emblems for examples)
2 (English/History) : Write a poem or short piece about Jack Leslie.
This can be written in any format-poetry, prose, journalistic, or as if for a “spoken word”, song lyric, or rap performance.
3 (Drama/Music) : perform a short piece about Jack Leslie
As (2) above, but a filmed recital (poem, spoken word, music) Can be individual or collaborative, but short is preferable and absolute limit of 2 mins max.
Selected contributions may be posted on our website, and/or circulated on our social media. Submission confirms consent for distribution unless requested otherwise. For safeguarding, contributors will be identified by first name and school/year group only (or by initials if preferred) eg “Alice from Barking School, year 7”.
Submissions must be submitted via a contributing school not by individual entrants.
The Campaign judging panel will announce and certify winner/winners at competition end. Deadline for submission: 08/11/2023
Note for teachers- please pre-select the best entries and send from school to email@example.com. Maximum 3 entries per class per category.
Following Argyle’s promotion to the Championship at the end of last season during which Jack’s statue was unveiled, this season continues to be busy for the Campaign! Jack Leslie’s posthumous honorary cap has now been presented to PAFC by Jack’s family (see here) and we are engaged in numerous activities throughout October as part of Black History Month-read more here.
Now, finally, Matt’s biography of Jack, The Lion Who Never Roared, has been released by Pitch Publishing! (Published 23rd October)
It is also available to order (see link below)
On 6th November at St. Giles Crypt, Camberwell, London, Matt will talk about Jack, the campaign, and his book. Tickets £10 (£7 conc) include a free drink – available here
On 16 November, The Wanstead Tap, London E7, there is a talk about The Lion Who Never Roared in Jack’s old stomping ground of East London – tickets £8 available here
And here’s what people who have had a sneak preview have said:
“Moving, sad and uplifting. Everyone should know the legend of Jack Leslie.”
Matt Barlow, Daily Mail
“Inspiring and important. An extraordinary life story.” Viv Anderson MBE
“A beautifully written and fitting tribute for an unfairly overlooked legend.” Josh Widdicombe
“An evocative and gripping portrait of a remarkable football pioneer.” Debbie Hewitt, Chair of the FA
Matt said, ”It has been a huge privilege to research Jack’s life and writing it has been a real labour of love over the last year. Jack lived a fascinating and important life and I hope people enjoy reading it, not only the chapters about what happened with the England selection but also his early life, achievements with Barking Town and Essex as well as those great years with Plymouth Argyle and all the incredible characters at the club in the 1920s and 30s. Those years in the boot room with West Ham United are covered too.
I can’t thank Jack’s granddaughters Lesley, Lyn and Gill enough for sharing their family stories with great honesty and integrity. So many other people have helped and there is a full list in the acknowledgments, but I must thank Greg, of course. None of this would have happened without him but also Richard Amofa, Bill Hern and John Eales who have made vital contributions and suggestions.
If you would like to find out more about the book or have any suggestions for events or people to contact to spread the word then do get in touch. There are events being lined up which I’ll share when I can, but if your local bookshop or workplace might be interested in a talk then do give me a shout.
Thanks so much for all your support throughout the campaign and I really hope you enjoy learning more about this wonderful player and remarkable man.‘
Keep in touch with us on social media and on here and wishing you all the best this season whoever you support!
JACK LESLIE’S FAMILY PRESENT HIS HONORARY ENGLAND CAP TO ARGYLE!
One year ago, Jack Leslie’s bronze statue was unveiled at Home Park, and this incredible occasion was marked by a historic pledge. Debbie Hewitt, FA chair, announced that Jack was to be awarded a posthumous honorary cap in recognition of the adversity he faced due to the colour of his skin. Jack was the first black footballer to be selected for England back in 1925, but due to prejudice he then never got the chance to represent his country (read “Jack’s story” here) The honorary cap was presented as promised to Jack’s family in March this year ahead of England’s 2-0 victory over Ukraine (see here)
On the morning of the Swansea City match on 7th October, the anniversary of the unveiling, Jack’s family, the campaign team and Argyle legend, Ronnie Mauge, met at the statue to show off the cap and talk to fans. Appropriately, the game was Argyle’s designated Kick it Out fixture and the charity’s CEO Sanjay Bhandari joined us and the club for the day. The cap was also shown to fans in a packed Green Taverners, before finally being presented to Ronnie (in his role as club ambassador) by Jack’s granddaughters on the pitch at half-time.
The cap means a huge amount to Jack’s family, and they have loved having it. But they too had made a pledge. To bring the cap home… to Home Park. It was here that Jack made his name, was told he’d been picked for England and bounced back after his cruel deselection. He went on to score 137 goals in 400 appearances for Plymouth Argyle between 1921 and 1934 and captained the club to its highest league position, something that has only been equalled once in the decades that followed.
Jack’s granddaughters, Lesley, Lyn and Gill feel this the right place for the cap, ‘The campaign to recognise our grandad has meant so much to the whole family and to have the support of so many people after so long is mind-blowing. When granddad returned to Plymouth Argyle as a guest of honour in 1965, he got a standing ovation from the thousands of fans who remembered and loved him. He welled-up when he shared those special memories. So, the three of us knew that the cap had to come here. Jack Leslie embraced Plymouth just as it embraced him. We are proud to present his cap to be displayed at Home Park where our grandad became a hero.‘
When Jack’s name was in the papers 98 years ago as part of the England team to travel to Ireland there was a huge buzz in Plymouth. ‘Everyone in the town was full of it,’ said Jack. Then everything went quiet, and this young talent was cruelly dropped before the game due to the colour of his skin. He was frequently tipped as an England player in the years that followed but the FA had already made its decision.
Jack Leslie Campaign co-founders Greg Foxsmith and Matt Tiller said, ‘For the FA to accept that Jack was the first black player to be selected for England and to recognise that it was the colour of his skin that put an end to his chances was a massive step. And for Jack’s family who have carried that injustice with them all these years to now bring the cap here to Plymouth is a wonderful gesture. We are proud of them, the club, the Green Army and Jack.‘
The cap is now displayed in the Jack Leslie Boardroom alongside a unique maquette. It can be seen by fans doing one of Argyle’s stadium tours. It has been donated on permanent loan to the club with a view to making it available to fans as much as possible through events and exhibitions.
The Jack Leslie Campaign co-founders Matt Tiller and Greg Foxsmith continue to tell the story in schools and organisations including football clubs. Read more about the campaign at jackleslie.co.uk, and the other presentations and events for October (Black History Month) here.
Matt’s biography of Jack Leslie, The Lion Who Never Roared: The Star Robbed of England Glory is out on 23 October and will be available in the Argyle Store (or pre-order here)
The Jack Leslie Campaign are delighted to have partnered with highly regarded photographer Jonathan Ward and Kaya Gallery to offer a stunning, limited edition framed photograph of the iconic statue at Home Park.
Each sale will include a contribution to the Jack Leslie Campaign, as we continue our work telling the Jack Leslie story, taking the story into schools and using the campaign positively to celebrate diversity and challenge prejudice.
The artwork will be available exclusively through Kaya Gallery (known as ‘the people’s gallery”), a much-loved feature on Southside Street, famous for it’s quality art framed artwork including the iconic “Beatles on the Hoe” photo, and pieces by Brian Pollard and Robert Lenkiewicz.
Proprietor and Argyle fan Chris Warne said “The photograph is on top quality paper and with a deep mitre cut cream mount, anda fantastic bronze coloured frame to reflect the statue”
Photographer Jonathan Ward (TMW photography) said “ I am proud to have played a small part in supporting the Jack Leslie Campaign and its incredible work. The statue is a beautiful piece of art, with an important history, and makes for a compelling subject”
Each limited edition print will be uniquely but discreetly numbered on the mount of the frame and initialled by Jonathon.
Campaign co-founder Greg Foxsmith said “ Everyone loves the Jack Leslie statue, beautifully sculpted by renowned artist Andy Edwards, and it needed a top-quality photographer to capture the essence of the piece. Jonathan has delivered a beautiful art-work, and we are delighted to team with him and Kaya Galleries to bring a limited number of these to the public, whilst also helping the campaign”
The artwork is on sale in the gallery from 08 October.
For further information contact Greg Foxsmith 07980846330 or Kaya Gallery 01752 267474
4 Curious coincidence: Kaya Gallery at 53 Southside St. used to be Foxsmith Galleries, where the proprietor was the late William Foxsmith, father to Campaign co-founder Greg Foxsmith. Greg observes “my father loved fine art and was a highly regarded picture-framer. That’s why it was important to me that this magnificent piece was given a high quality frame, and this has delivered”
JACK LESLIE CAMPAIGN SPONSORS TIANA CAMPBELL AT LISKEARD WFC
The Jack Leslie Campaign are delighted to confirm that this season (2023/24) we are sponsoring Tiana Campbell of Liskeard Women FC.
Tiana is a supporter of the campaign, and was inspired by Jack’s story which resonated for her. The campaign sponsored her last season at Argyle Women’s First Team , after she came through the women’s development team.
Greg Foxsmith of the Campaign said “our campaign challenges discrimination and prejudice in football, and that applies in women’s football too. We are delighted to continue to support Tiana and work with her and wish her every success. We have been impressed with how Liskeard WFC are supporting women’s football and have positive values”
Tiana said “I am delighted to be sponsored by the Jack Leslie Campaign for the second season in a row. The values of the Campaign fit perfectly with what I believe in. Football is an inclusive sport that should support all participants whatever their background”
We are proud to support Tiana, and wish her and the team every success this season!
A representative of the Campaign will attend Liskeard Athletic WFC home game on 08 October to see Tiana in action. Come and say hello!
The Campaign continues our programme of presentations this year with talks at Championship football clubs. The Jack Leslie Campaign achieved our primary objective -unveiling a statue of Jack Leslie at Home Park Stadium, Plymouth in October 2022- read about that momentous day here.
Since then we have focussed on our other aims and objectives – continuing to tell Jack’s story, and using that to celebrate diversity and challenge racism, prejudice and discrimination.
We continue to do this in schools, and for companies or organisations.
Last year we have began to share Jack’s story with fans from fellow football clubs- from non-league to Premier League. Jack’s story goes down well “on the road” as football fans recognise this is a story that transcends rivalries, celebrating our shared football history and heritage.
We can speak in board-rooms at director level, in fan-zones or to other fan groups, and perhaps most effectively to fans in hospitality areas as part of the pre-match build up.
Our presentation features the main highlights of Jack’s incredible story, and resonates with fans, particularly because presentations are bespoke and customised to each club, also acknowledging the history and pioneers of that club. The presentation is upbeat and fun, never preachy.
Although a full presentation to an organisation can be 45 mins, those to fans groups can be concluded as quickly as 5 mins, mindful of time constraints and other speaker slots.
Please contact Campaign co-founder Greg Foxsmith for more details or to book a presentation.