Jack Leslie turns out at Upton Park, but not for West Ham!

Jack played a few cracking games for Plymouth against his home town club in the 1930s, including a 2-2 draw at Upton Park and scoring in a 4-1 win at home. His final appearance was a charity match for Fairbairn House Boys Club Old Boys against the Hammers.

Jack v West Ham


Jack Leslie returns to his East London roots.

After his retirement from the game through injury, Jack and his wife Lavinia ran The White Swan pub in Truro. He even turned out a few times for Truro at centre half. But home was calling and the couple decided to settle back in East London with their daughter Evelyn. 

Jack was a boilermaker by trade and worked in the East India Docks through the Second World War and into the 1960s when he retired. 

August 1938

Jack is back at Barking Town

Jack’s passion for the game never left him. A career in football after playing wasn’t even a possibility or consideration, but Jack continued his association with the sport throughout his life. He was appointed as trainer at his original club, Barking Town. When reporting this, The Western Morning News of 4th August 1938 described Jack as, “one of the finest players ever to wear an Argyle jersey. He played at inside-left and was a tactician of outstanding quality.”


Jack retires from his trade as a boilermaker

Listed on his death certificate, Jack’s profession simply reads ‘boilermaker’ rather than footballer. But the career in which he made a name for himself is finally being recognised and celebrated. 


Jack knocks on Ron Greenwood’s door at West Ham United

When his daughter, Evelyn, saw that her father was bored in his retirement she suggested Jack go to Upton Park and ask for a job. Ron Greenwood, who would go on to manage England, was aware of Jack’s prowess as a player from memories passed down by his father and he happily found the old pro a role at the club. 

Jack was put in charge of the boot room, tending the leathers of West Ham United’s three 1966 World Cup winners with England, Geoff Hurst, Martin Peters, and Bobby Moore…

Another job well done as former Argyle favourite Jack Leslie hands back the boots of England and West Ham skipper Bobby Moore after cleaning them.

November 29th 1978

The selection of Viv Anderson prompts interest in Jack Leslie 

Known in football circles, Jack’s story was never totally forgotten even though the man himself didn’t shout about his achievements or the injustice of 1925. But Brian James of the Daily Mail saw the irony in Jack’s job shining the leathers of England footballing heroes. And he wanted Jack to tell the story in his own words…

Newspaper cutting from the Daily Mail with the headline 'No, I was the first, says Jack the boot man'
Interview with Jack – Daily Mail 1978

May 1980

Jack prepares the West Ham United players for the FA Cup Final against Arsenal

Ahead of the game Jack says, ‘It’s got to be West Ham. I’m not just saying that – I really think they’re the better team.’

Newspaper clipping from 1980 with the headline 'Footman Jack - giving Irons a shine'
Footman Jack – giving Irons a shine

May 1980

Trevor Brooking wins the cup for the Hammers

The England and West Ham legend scored the only goal of that final. He remembers Jack Leslie very well indeed and, like other players, tells of how incredibly humble Jack was. He never even told them that he’d been a professional player, let alone the fact that he had once been picked for England. 

30th October 1982

Jack Leslie finally retires from the game

As West Ham United welcomed Manchester United to Upton Park, Jack prepared the home team’s boots for the last time. Billy Bonds and Frank Lampard Snr. were among the players who beat the visitors 3-1. The farewell from manager, John Lyall, and the players was captured by ITV’s The Big Match… 

ITV’s The Big Match:

25th November 1988

Jack Leslie dies age 87 just months after his wife Lavinia

Black and white photo of Jack in football top looking at camera, arms folded.