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Who was Jack Leslie?

For much of his career, Jack Leslie was the only professional black footballer in England playing for Plymouth Argyle from 1921 until his retirement in 1934. From his position at inside left, he was a prolific goal-scorer and went on to captain the team. He was set to become the first non-white player to represent England at international level in 1925 when he was named in the team but then denied the opportunity when some selectors were made aware that he was “a man of colour.”

You can read more about Jack Leslie on the brilliant Greens On Screen website and there are further links on “finding out more” below.

What is the Jack Leslie campaign?

The campaign is to raise the money for a statue of Jack Leslie in Plymouth. The campaign will also promote the story of Jack Leslie, using his story to combat racism in football, and supporting the aims of the “Kick It Out” campaign. See the “aims and objectives” on website.

I’m not a football fan, what does this have to do with me?

We believe the prejudice and discrimination from his England rejection Are reflective of societal issues, and deserve to be addressed rather than swept under the carpet. By putting up a statue to Jack Leslie now, we are making a proud statement that what happened then was wrong. We believe that ongoing issues of racism in football and wider society are of national significance, and we aim to use the Jack Leslie story in a positive way to challenge racist attitudes. People should be able to succeed in any field, regardless of the colour of their skin.

I’m a fan of another club, not Argyle, what does this have to do with me?

We aim to attract support from fans of all 92 league clubs and beyond. 

We will be working with The FA, the PFA, the Football Supporters Association, and we hope with Kick It Out and other organisations to promote diversity and challenge racism in sport throughout our campaign.

Why did the FA deny Jack Leslie a chance to play?

It is clear from the evidence – Jack’s selection made the papers, then he was listed in the initial team in the press and the incident was reported in Plymouth, albeit in a censored manner – that Jack was picked to play. England selectors in the 1920s would have received match reports and seen stats from the top divisions, so would have become aware of Leslie’s ability and phenomenal scoring record. However, in an era without TV footage, colour photographs, social media or the internet, they may not have known much more about his personal attributes.

It’s certainly clear that, whether or not some officials did know Jack’s heritage and wanted him to play, others clearly saw it as a reason to deny him the chance.

What do Jack Leslie’s family think of the campaign?

Jack’s daughter, Evelyn, his granddaughters Lesley, Lyn and Jillian are delighted he is finally getting the recognition he deserves. Our original launch was planned to coincide with a visit to Home Park in April when many family members were due to attend. We’ve had messages of support from several and are looking forward to meeting them all when we can.

Jack’s great-great-nephew George is active in the campaign, also participating in our committee meetings.

Who is running the campaign?

The campaign was set up by two volunteers, Matt Tiller and Greg Foxsmith. See Matt’s account of how and why we started this here

We have been joined by others – full list here – but please do contact us if you would like to help!  Note of caution – none of us are or will be paid, and you won’t be either – but don’t let that put you off!

Who supports the campaign?

We are supported by Jack Leslie’s family members, Plymouth Argyle, a range of footballers and fans, celebrities and more – see full list here. Know somebody who may be interested in becoming one of our high profile supporters? Get in touch!


Where will it be?

The statue of Jack Leslie will stand outside Home Park – the exact location will be decided in collaboration with Plymouth Argyle and in consultation with Plymouth City Council. We’ve had initial discussions and will update on this once we are able to discuss this with club officials on site but don’t want to preempt this, lest a particular location prove to be unfeasible!

What will it look like?

The aim is for an imposing, landmark bronze full body statue of Jack in his prime on a stone plinth. We are not prescriptive as to the design

We have began talks with a number of sculptors with experience in this field, But no decisions have been made, even as to the commissioning process. In due course we will announce how we anticipate that working, and ultimately drawing up a shortlist of proposals before deciding the exact design. We expect the committee will have a say, together with key partners, commercial backers, and larger contributors. What we can promise is that the process will be fair, and transparent.

How much will it cost?

Having researched other similar statues and spoken to people behind other similar statues, we have a good idea of cost and process.

We estimate that we’ll need at least £100,000 but would hope to raise much more, both to provide the best possible statue in terms of design and finish, and to ensure a legacy fund to maintain the monument long term and continue the work raising awareness of the Jack Leslie story.

This looks like a huge total but with your help we know we can hit and exceed the target. Other crowdfunded campaigns have achieved success, and we believe Jack is as deserving of this memorial as any of the many excellent statues across the nation. Check out the comments on the crowdfunder page, left by the many contributors- and don’t forget to leave your own comment after donating.


How will the funds be raised?

This is a crowd funded campaign asking for donations from the public. If you are able to then please donate here.  Please forward the link Far and wide, to friends, family and colleagues. We have spent no money on advertising, and we rely wholly on word of mouth.

The campaign is on Crowdfunder, which is a great site for such efforts, there are several rewards available for donors, and please talk to us if you are thinking of making a larger donation so we can properly acknowledge that. Please also put us in touch with your company or organisation, as getting some larger-scale backing is also key to hitting target, and allows those companies to be properly recognised.

Where does the money go?

All the money raised will go towards the statue itself, costs associated with the construction and events surrounding it. These costs include the sculptor and materials, ideally bronze, logistics around the site itself – planning, surveying and installation. There will be expenses around some of the events such as the unveiling. Any expenses incurred for events during the campaign will be offset by the benefit in funds raised. But we have and will continue to do our damnedest to keep those to a minimum and all the team are volunteers.

What accountability is there?

We have a treasurer who will audit the campaign accounts and there are two signatures needed for any outgoings. The committee members are all volunteers with connections to Plymouth Argyle or other campaigns and charitable causes and all will ensure the project is delivered responsibly.

What will contributors receive?

There are rewards available on Crowdfunder. All donors who contribute in advance will be contacted and asked if they wish to take up a reward in line with the amount given.

One thing we are promising is that anyone who donates £100 or more will get an invite to the unveiling.

There is also be corporate sponsorships available. If you are a business interested in supporting us then please do get in touch.


How can individuals help?

Aside from donating to the Crowdfunder, you can do the following…

1 Sign up to our mailing list – we won’t bother you very often, but you will hear news of significant events, progress, our launch and regular updates once we do kick off.

2 Please “tell a friend” about our campaign! We have no marketing budget, so are relying on word of mouth to spread the news. Please forward a link to our site to those you think will find us of interest.

3 Follow! Please follow us on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram, and when following on twitter, please do give us the occasional “like” or retweet – it’s good for our morale! Please post a link to the crowdfunder page on any social media platforms that you use.

How can football clubs, supporter associations, campaign groups or organisations help?

Please consider whether you are willing:

  • to be listed as a supporter,
  • to make a donation, or
  • promote our campaign to your members/colleagues

How can businesses or companies help?

We welcome donations or support from the corporate world and will be happy to acknowledge that support. Significant contributions will be noted on our website, the contributor publicly thanked, and the contributor name listed on our “key supporters” plaque at the completed statue. Invites to the statue unveiling and other events will be extended, as well as media opportunities. See “funding” above. Email us if you’d like to discuss this.


Where can we find out more? (Useful links)

1 Inside Out

2 Article by Martin Johnes. 

3 Article on West Ham site.

4 Phil Vasili

5 Asif Burhan, blog for Kick It Out, 18/12/2019, and coverage of Barking FC partnering with the campaign in the Barking and Dagenham Post here

My question has not been answered! How do we find out further information?

Message us!

This page will be updated as further questions are asked. The committee aims to be open and transparent at all stages.