Raising funds for a statue to honour the footballer denied an England cap in 1925, just because he was black.
Jack Leslie Campaign and Hope FC at the Box-guest blog by Hayley Kemp
The opening of The Box in Plymouth was a much anticipated event for the Jack Leslie team as we were invited to host activities for their Black History Month sessions.
Hayley Kemp, from Plymouth community homes and the JLC team, worked with Beth Hart from The Box to organise the BHM sessions, and describes in this guest blog below how the sessions went:
I was delighted to organise and partake in Jack Leslie themed sessions for BHM at Plymouths fantastic new museum “the Box”. The sessions included partnership work with Plymouth Hope FC, a refugee football team promoting integration through sport, and Rob Bullen, renowned cartoonist (follow Rob on twitter @robbybullen)
The programme we came up with was an exciting, as well as educational one, which involved both indoor and outdoor activities.
The outdoor activities were football skills and tricks with members of Plymouth Hope FC and our very own Jamie Burton from the JL team. Plymouth Hope FC had players of of 11 different nationalities, (including ”Janner!”) Although the footballers couldn’t play outside on the first days session due to the weather, they enjoyed looking around The Box and talking to families about football and Jack. They were approached by a few families. They sat close to the entrance when stopping for a snack, which (With allowances for social distancing) encouraged discussion and interaction with visitors, including discussions around racism in football.
On the second day play was able to commence and as well as teaching the children skills and tricks, Hope also provided entertainment for those outside in the queue waiting to go into The Box. Although one confident 10 year old advised ‘I didn’t learn any new tricks, but I liked showing mine!’
The indoor activity was learning to draw cartoons with cartoonist Rob Bullen. Rob is a massive Argyle fan who has done some great pictures for the Jack Leslie campaign. Rob, Jamie and I also told the story of Jack Leslie in these sessions and showed this amazing feature by Sky Sports about Jack Leslie and the Campaign: https://jackleslie.co.uk/news/jack-leslie-sky-sports-feature/)
The film included some previously unseen photos of Jack discovered in the archive of The Box. We had conversations with the children, making allowance for their age, by used words like “kind, unkind” and “fair, unfair”, (rather than words like discrimination & systematic racism)
The children started by drawing smiley & sad faces and progressed to drawing a picture of Jack Leslie. The sessions were in family groups all socially distanced and the families were also given one of Rob’s JL cartoons to take away as well as JL postcards designed by MayflowerD7 at the end of the sessions. What was really great about these sessions is that the children really grasped the unfairness of JL being dropped to play for England because of the colour of his skin. Also the adults got involved with learning to draw cartoons as much as the children.
In all 41 family groups,( 87 children and 71 adults) took part in the sessions. We had the most amazing feedback from the family groups that attended. Not just the children enjoyed it but also the adults. Many commented that they ‘really enjoyed it all’ and ‘learnt something new’. Including one ‘granny’ who said ‘you’ve unleashed my artistic ability that I didn’t realise I had!’ One of the Dad’s said he was going to straight home to get his pencils out. ‘You’ve inspired me’. He said he’d never drawn before but loved it and realised he could draw!
For some it was the first time they had heard about jack Leslie, ‘It’s so important to know about Jack and Plymouth- thank you.’ The parents really appreciated the message we were getting across through the jl story. One Mum with a mixed heritage family, ‘Thank you so much for doing this for our children. It’s really important that they learn about treating everyone equally and that they don’t treat anyone like us differently. I am so glad that you have put on this session. I know that Plymouth really needs this and I am so happy you’re doing it. Thank you’. And from another parent, ‘So good to learn more about Jack Leslie. I’d already heard a bit about him from the news. The population in Plymouth has changed. There are many more people from different backgrounds now’.
It was also nice to hear that jack was still inspiring the young people. One young girl told us, ‘I want to do better with my football to be like Jack and want to switch from defence to attack when I start again’. We even helped spread the popularity of museums, one 8 year old remarked, ‘I didn’t think museums did things like this, but it’s really good.’
The Hope players and the cartoon workshop were also filmed by the BBC for the Sunday Morning Politics Show.
It was a great piece of partnership work, not only enjoyed by the children and their parents but also by all those facilitating the workshops. JL is a great way to teach children about racism and discrimination. We hope to develop what we did at The Box and roll this out as a schools programme, as well as work more in partnership with The Box, Plymouth Community Homes and Hope FC.
Of course the most heartening thing for us at the JL team is that through raising awareness about discrimination and racism in sport, Jack’s legacy is helping to create a more accepting and cohesive society today.
1 Thanks to Hayley for this blog, and to Hayley, Rob, and Jamie Burton who made this event a success. Read more about them and our amazing team here https://jackleslie.co.uk/the-team/
It’s been a phenomenal month for The Jack Leslie Campaign, and we have been very busy throughout October, with a range of activities for Black History Month!
Of course our fund-raising continues, to enable us to deliver the best possible statue. However, the aims and objectives of the campaign have always included sharing the Jack Leslie story, and using that to challenge prejudice and discrimination. We will do that throughout the year, but here are some of the things we achieved this month:
We have partnered with the ACT to deliver an exciting educational project throughout schools in Devon – and will he happy to roll this out to other areas next year! Read more here.
The Box, Plymouth
We did some amazing work in Plymouth during half-term, in partnership with the stunning new museum “the Box” , led by our committee member Hayley Kemp and cartoonist Rob Bullen, with support from the amazing Hope FC – read more here!
We continue to engage with schools, presenting the Jack Leslie story as part of an assembly, sometimes in person for tier 1 areas but usually delivered remotely.
We present at corporate level, as a discussion platform for companies or organisations who are interested in engaging with black history. In October that included e.g. presentations with the CPS, the General Dental Council and Kingsley Napley solicitors. Our presentations are interactive, challenging but fun. Contact us for details!
To allow us to continue presenting the Jack Leslie story and interact with schools and organisations, we need specific funding, and are happy to work with organisations or companies interested in sponsoring our work. This month eg we were delighted to partner with they Football Supporters Association – see here. Commercial sponsors can be credited on our website and on the statue plinth, so for further details contact Greg or Matt by email.
For Black History Month Sky Sports were keen to cover the campaign and tell Jack’s story. Reporter, Jonathan Oakes, and his team did a fine job including interviews with Plymouth Argyle‘s Frank Nouble as well as Sol Campbell and Micah Richards with fantastic images from The Box and the brilliant children of Whitchurch Primary School. The film’s a great watch…
The wonderful photos were recently unearthed by archivist Stacey Anderson at Plymouth’s new museum/art space, The Box. Incredible to see pictures of Jack in action – the glass plates nearly went in a skip.
Educational activities take place at The Box this half-term week with Hope FC, an incredible football team attached to the charity that encourages social inclusion, campaign cartoonist Rob Bullen and curated by committee member, Hayley Kemp.
Most importantly the film showcased some of the educational work we are doing, with Greg talking to primary schoolchildren in Devon. They were attentive, enthusiastic and asked challenging questions.
The Jack Leslie Campaign hit its original fundraising target and has secured enough money to ensure there will be a statue of Jack Leslie outside Home Park. However, fundraising continues, as we seek to deliver the best possible statue.
In addition to installing a statue, the aims and objectives of the campaign include telling the Jack Leslie story, and using his story to challenge prejudice and discrimination. Although we are committed to those objectives throughout the year, there is no doubt that Black History Month (October) has triggered renewed interest in Jack Leslie and the Campaign. We set out below how we are responding to that interest.
Jack Leslie-part of black history
Jack Leslie played professional football in the 1920s/30s, and for much of that time was the only black player in the league and became, we believe, the first black footballer to captain a professional team (Plymouth Argyle).
Jack was the first black footballer to be selected to play for England (1925) but then denied his opportunity to play. He really is part of black history and is one of many figures whose story should have been recognised sooner. At last people are learning about figures like Jack Leslie who were significant in their time, who sufferered injustices and were later forgotten. And, although the treatment he received by the England selection committee would not happen today, racism in football persists. These are the type of issues that our campaign reflects and challenges.
We are happy to engage with schools presenting the Jack Leslie story as part of an assembly, delivered remotely.
We are able to present at corporate level, as a discussion platform for companies who are interested in engaging with black history month. We are booked for presentations with the Crown Prosecution Service, Environment Agency, and local businesses. Our presentations are interactive, and challenging but fun. Contact us for details!
For Football Clubs
There are still issues of discrimination and inequality throughout society and sport, from the professional level to grassroots. We are happy to engage with and present to football clubs.
To allow us to present the Jack Leslie story, and interact with schools and organisations, we need specific funding, and are happy to work with companies interested in sponsoring our work. Get in touch!
For further detail, contact:
Greg Foxsmith, firstname.lastname@example.org 07980846330
Matt Tiller, email@example.com 07887616408
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.”
On Mon 10th August we held a Facebook Live event with Jack’s granddaughters, Argyle legend Ronnie Mauge, comedian and Argyle fan, Josh Widdicombe and a very special guest and you can watch it here…
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.
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.”
We launched the crowdfunder appeal on 1st July. it has been an amazing month!
Massive thanks for all your donations and efforts to spread the word. Your positivity has been amazing to see and we are so grateful for all your help. 10 days to go now and we’ve passed £82000! Please help us continue to spread the word and get the final donations in. This campaign is run by volunteers, has no paid fund-raisers or advertising, and we rely on you to share news of our campaign by word of mouth, social media, or just text/email the crowdfunder link to your friends, families and colleagues. Thank you!
FA CUP FINAL SOCIAL TOMORROW: London based supporters can join a select band (it’s a fully compliant, socially distanced event so numbers now very limited) in a great pub to watch the Cup Final and raise some money. Booking details here https://jackleslie.co.uk/news/fa-cup-fundraiser/ (We will have more events in Plymouth and across the country as we progress)
2 Our resident artist James Curnow (@Mayflower7) has some Jack leslie artwork – a Number of these 12x12cm Jack Leslie postcards left and now available to order from website jamescurno.co.uk/shop/ )100% of all profits going towards Campaign)
Linda Gilroy’s Photo of Michael Foot has been auctioned for the Jack Leslie Campaign!
This photograph is of Michael Foot, former leader of the Labour Party, sitting for a portrait for renowned artist Robert Lenkiewicz. The photo was taken circa 2001 by Labour MP, Linda Gilroy who served as the Member of Parliament for Plymouth Sutton from 1997 to 2010.
It is one of only 2 prints of the photograph currently in existence, of which no more than a maximum of 20 copies will ever be reproduced.
The photograph, kindly given to the campaign by Linda Gilmore, was auctioned on eBay ( here) and raised over £250 for the Campaign!
The painting, unfinished at the time of the artist’s death, was acquired by the House of Commons Art Commission and displayed in Portcullis House London (detail here)
The original photograph itself was exhibited in 2001 as part of an exhibition of photographs taken by MPs, originally in Westminster & later touring the country.
The image captures Michael Foot sporting the green and black scarf of his beloved home-town team Plymouth Argyle. It shows him sitting in Robert Lenkiewicz’s atmospheric studio in the historic Barbican area of Plymouth, amongst the artist’s other works. It also captures the canvass that Lekiewicz was working on. A piece of art in it’s own right, it captures the artist’s process as well as the effervescent nature of the late great Michael Foot.
The rear of the frame is signed by Linda Gilroy, to whom the Campaign expresses it’s grateful thanks.
ALL PROCEEDS FROM THE AUCTION WENT TO THE JACK LESLIE STATUE CROWDFUNDING CAMPAIGN.
If you have something you wish to donate for the Campaign to raise funds, please get in touch via the website. Follow @JackLeslieCamp and @LeslieRaffle on twitter for details of future sales.
CURRENT RAFFLE – England top signed by Ian Wright-tickets £2- draw on 1st August- detail here
Devon supporters unite behind the campaign to build a statue of football legend Jack Leslie
The Jack Leslie Campaign is delighted to receive a substantial contribution today from Supporter Trusts of the three major professional clubs in Devon.
There is no doubt that rivalries between the county’s teams are always intense, but those feelings have been put aside in reaching a joint statement – backed by a donation – from the Supporter Trusts of Exeter City, Torquay United and Plymouth Argyle.
Fans of all three clubs agreed there is unity in the wish to fight racism and prejudice in football, and in the county.
This kicks off week 3 of an intense 6-week crowdfunding appeal, which has already attracted more than £70,000 in donations since its launch on July 1st.
The following statement was agreed between the trusts:
The Devon Football Supporters Trust’s Group, Comprising of The Argyle Fan’s Trust, Exeter City Supporters Trust and Torquay United Supporters Trust, are proud to support the Jack Leslie Campaign.
The Devon Football Supporters Trust Group believes in the spirit of community and collaboration. They will both collectively and individually challenge all forms of discrimination and hatred.