Raising funds for a statue to honour the footballer denied an England cap in 1925, just because he was black.
Event: Jack Leslie Plaque unveiled!
On Friday 19th November at 3pm, a blue plaque was unveiled at Jack Leslie’s former home at 12 Gerald Rd, Canning Town, E16. Members of the Jack Leslie Campaign attended, together with Jack’s grand-daughters and great-nephew, football historians David Gleave and Bill Hern (co-authors of “Football’s Black Pioneers”) and representatives of Newham Council including councillor Terence Paul.
History: Jack Leslie was born on 17th August 1901, to John Francis Leslie a sailor from Jamaica, and Ann Regler, a seamstress from Islington.
At the time of his birth the family lived at 60, Clifton Road, but later moved to 12, Gerald Road, Canning Town, which would remain the family home for many years.
Jack played football for nearby Barking FC, before signing for Plymouth Argyle in 1921, where he remained for 14 years, scoring 137 goals in 400 appearances. In 1925 he became the first black footballer to be selected to play for England, before being dropped because he was black. Full bio, story of the England call-up, and stats here: https://jackleslie.co.uk/jack/
The Jack Leslie Campaign have been invited to attend Barking FC, at a pre-match event to celebrate Jack Leslie’s Barking roots. At 1pm in the clubhouse on match-day the Campaign will tell the jack Leslie story, with an emphasis on his incredible exploits for and with Barking 100 years ago! (see note 1 below)
THIS EVENT WILL TAKE PLACE ON A MATCH DAY-(date to be confirmed)
check website or follow us on twitter for updates.
The Campaign will then present Barking FC with a bronze statuette, created by artist Andy Edwards.
This event will be open to anyone to attend. Barking FC are a welcoming club, and proud of their Jack Leslie connection. Chairman Rob O’Brien says : “we are delighted to continue our partnership work with the Jack Leslie Campaign, and share their aim of telling Jack’s story, which began here in Barking. We are equally proud of our ongoing role in celebrating diversity -Barking Football Club is a club rooted in the local community, welcoming to all”
After the celebration, everyone will be encouraged to stay and watch the Blues in their match (KO 3pm) –
1 Spoiler alert- Jack was part of a cup-winning Barking team that competed in London and Essex, but also played overseas -find out more on the day!
6 The Club and Campaign would like to see a commemorative cup game between Barking and Plymouth Argyle for the “Jack Leslie Cup”, and are looking for a business or company to sponsor that event -get in touch if interested!
Guest blog by Jack Leslie’s grand-daughterLyn Davies.
Our Grandad and Nan always lived with us, so they had a great impact on our lives. They were always there to support us and help when ever they could. Grandad was a hard working man, always on the go. When he retired from football in 1935 due to an eye injury from a lace on the ball, which resulted in him not being able to look into the sun, he and nan ran a pub in Truro called The White Swan. All the locals would bring any animals they found injured or sick to the pub for Nan to look after and Grandad used to invite his mates for a drink “on the house” and nan would complain that he was drinking all the profits away, but it didn’t stop him! Then they moved back to the East End in 1938 to East Ham just before the war broke out.
He was a boiler maker by trade and worked in East India Docks, he could use his left hand to rivet, so was in high demand. He worked there through the war, experiencing the London bombing as the docks were obviously a prime target. He worked there until he retired aged 65.
He got bored with retirement so our mum Evelyn suggested he go to the West Ham Football Ground, not far from where we lived in Wakefield Street, and see if he could get a part time job there. He met up with Ron Greenwood, the then manager, who recognised him straight away, and said “we will find you a job somewhere Jack”. He was given the job of “boot man”, getting the boots repaired and cleaned ready for the game, for the likes of Bobby Moore, Trevor Brooking, Martin Peters, Geoff Hurst, Frank Lampard and Billy Bonds to name a few. He never spoke a lot about his football years to his granddaughters, we presumed he would tell the West Ham players some of his stories, and were shocked to find out that he didn’t, he had told us that they would ask him for advice on football, which he gave along with a lot of cheek. Once Frank Lampard came in and said to him he had scored a goal, so Grandad said “ thats good -now go out and score another one”. One of his great grandsons Michael was good at football, so he asked John Lyall, who had become the manager by this time, if he could write to him, which Lyall did, telling the young Micheal about the importance of getting a good education so he had something to fall back on, because football players only have a short career.
He was a very caring, loving Grandad, the rock of the family. When we were young he was our “hair dryer”, he would say “come on me ansome” (part West Country accent mixed with part East End) and we would sit on the floor in front of him and he would towel dry our hair, doing a good job too. In return we would style his hair, it was short but his curls and the texture made it easy to stay in place and we loved making two little devil horns. He would keep us mesmerised with his story telling, “Joe the alligator” was our favourite and he could remember all the weird and wonderful names he would give the animals. When our friends came round they all wanted him to tell them a story. He had huge charisma as we are sure anyone who met him would agree, there was always a twinkle in his eye.
At school I used to have a bad time as the darkest of the three granddaughters, being told to go back to my own country and remarks like that, Grandad knew I was having trouble so when he saw me in the street with my friends he would cross to the other side of the road so I could pretend I didn’t know him. Of course I wasn’t having that and would run across the road to talk to him, or shout out “hello Grandad”, he did the same for Gill as well.
Every Saturday morning he would go early to the Bakers to get a hot bloomer loaf, then we all had “doorsteps” with butter and jam or sugar for breakfast. He brought Gillian lots of comics, she would sit on his knee and he would read every one of them to her, cover to cover. On Sundays he liked a couple of pints before dinner, when he came home be would bring a bag of winkles and a block of raspberry ripple ice cream for tea, he would go for an afternoon nap and always say “if you start on the winkles save some of the big ones for me”.
20 years after leaving Plymouth he was asked if he would go to Home Park for the celebration of the Silver Anniversary of the club getting promotion to second division. Over the loud speaker they were telling the supporters who the guests were at the match that day and when they mentioned Jack Leslie he got a standing ovation, he got very emotional, as he thought he would have been forgotten after all those years.
His poor old knees gave him a lot of pain with “Arthur Itus” (as he called it), but he would never complain, we would see him rubbing in a pain relieving cream every night. He always carried on the tradition of having a hot bath and then a cold one, to close the pores and he polished all our shoes. His teeth were little as they had worn down over the years, so he decided to get some dentures, but the teeth on them were so big, they just didn’t suit him, they made us all laugh, he couldn’t get on with them so never wore them.
We all went on camping holidays together (including the budgie Joey) and had lots of fun. Nan went to the butchers one day and Grandad waited outside, she brought some steak and some sausages, when she came out Grandad said “looking forward to a nice bit of steak for dinner tonight” nan said “the steak isn’t for you it’s for the dog you’ve got sausages”. Grandads face was a picture!
He loved a paddle in the sea with his trousers rolled up to his knees. In his youth he won medals for swimming, but we never saw him swim. He loved an ice-cream when we went to the beach. He also had a lovely voice and a choir master wanted to enlist him in the local choir, but he only wanted to play football. Mum said when she was young he made her cry singing “Danny Boy” with so much emotion. When Nan was in the Kitchen and she wanted Grandad she would sing “When I’m calling you” and Grandad would sing back “Will you answer too”.
A man of many talents, Granddad played cricket for Plymouth a few times, he also boxed, played bowls and played the violin. He is also in the Guiness book of records for the most goals scored by the Inside Left, a position that no longer exists.
Lesleys children, including the youngest who was 7 when Granddad died, remember him playing “Big Bear” chasing them around the house growling like a bear, they usually ended up hiding under the dining table.
Gillian remembers mum putting her to bed, then a few minutes later grandad would call her to come for a hot chocolate, and they would sit and chat. When Grandad took the dog for a walk, Gill aged 7 would go as well, he would walk so far then let Gill take the dog as far as the telephone box, and he would call the dog back dragging Gill behind.
Mum and Dad brought a shop in Essex, so nan and grandad came to live with me as I still lived in East Ham. When I moved to Kent in the 80’s nan and grandad came as well. Living in Kent Grandad started to get an interest in nature and would sit watching the birds for ages, but again he started to get bored and wanted something to do, we had wood burners then, so gave him the job of chopping the wood and kindling, which he did every day come rain, shine or snow, and he wouldn’t let anyone else do it, that was his job.
He and nan liked a little flutter on the horses every Saturday. He loved a fried breakfast, his favourite chocolate was Bournville dark chocolate. He smoked Players cigarettes. His favourite group were the Ink Spots and his favourite singer was Petula Clark.
When nan died Grandad seemed to give up and 7 months later he died (we think of a broken heart).
Grandad was simply the best, when he died he left a huge hole in our hearts, we lost our rock.
Lyn Davies. October 2021
Pictured below: Lyn reading “memories of Granddad Jack” at the Jack Leslie event in the Canning Gallery (Canning Town, Newham) on 18th October 2021.
October is Black History Month, and the Jack Leslie Campaign were kept busy delivering presentations about Jack’s story- at schools, for businesses and fan groups. Jack’s story got a lot of coverage, and also featured in an exhibition -see below!
We present at corporate level, as a discussion platform for companies or organisations who are interested in engaging with black history. Last year that included e.g. presentations with the CPS, the General Dental Council and Kingsley Napley solicitors. Our presentations are interactive, challenging but fun. This year amongst others we were delighted to do a presentation for the Environment Agency, and a virtual event with Norfolk libraries amongst others.
We believe that Jack’s story, and black history generally, should not be shoe-horned into one month, and we are happy to continue with events (live attendance or virtual) throughout the year.
Racism in sport and football continues, as we saw earlier this year with players being booed for taking the knee, racist abuse of England’s black footballers after the Euros, and ongoing issues with abuse on-line.
We therefore like to contrast the historical example of Jack Leslie’s exclusion from the England team on the basis of the colour of his skin, with contemporary issues, using Jack’s story to engage with audiences. History is nothing if we cannot learn from it, and Black History Month is an opportunity to engage with issues and stories otherwise ignored.
2 We also attended an Argyle Legends event at Home Park, and were delighted to get the backing of one of Argyle’s play-off final winners: Paul Williams! Updated supporter list here https://jackleslie.co.uk/supporters/
Exactly one year after the launch of our Crowdfunder appeal, the Jack Leslie Campaign are delighted to announce the sculptor for a statue of Jack Leslie, to be situated outside Plymouth Argyle’s stadium, Home Park.
After careful consideration, including thorough interviews of the four shortlisted candidates, the Campaign can now confirm the successful artist as……
Andy Edwards is a renowned sculptor, with a wealth of experience in delivering iconic sporting statues.
Examples of his work include:
-the acclaimed “Clough/Taylor” statue at Derby County’s Pride Park
-the Notts County legends Jimmy Sirrel and Jack Wheeler at Meadow Lane
– the highly regarded sculpture of Stanley Matthews at Stoke City.
But this is very much a personal project for Andy and one that inspires him greatly.
On hearing the news of his selection, Andy said, ” I am eternally grateful and very excited to have been chosen to work with the devoted members of the Jack Leslie statue group, the proud fans of Plymouth Argyle Football Club and the wider football community in furthering all of our appreciation of a real legend of the game, and a man whose story can still affect change nearly 100 years on. I hope to create a statue of peerless quality celebrating excellence, that will also represent respect, dignity, devotion and invigorate the quest for equal rights for all. To everyone who has given their support and backing to this initiative, I will not let you down.”
Campaign co-founder Greg Foxsmith said “We are delighted to give Andy this commission, butwe would also like to thank all of the shortlisted artists who spent so much time and energy on creating such brilliant proposals. It made it really difficult for us to make the final decision”
Jack’s granddaughter Lesley said “We love the range of ideas, and we look forward to working with Andy to see a statue that is an accurate portrayal of Grandad”
Campaign co-founder Matt Tiller said “ we have been impressed with Andy’s portfolio, his artistic vision, and his commitment to the project. Together with the team at Monumental Icons, we are confident that Andy will deliver an outstanding statue and a lasting legacy for Jack Leslie”
The campaign will now be reaching out to companies and businesses in the South West, with commercial sponsorship opportunities for an accompanying film of the project, landscaping, lighting, and enhancing the statue’s surroundings. All sponsors will be recognised on the statue plinth.
Jack signed for Plymouth Argyle from Barking in 1921 and scored 137 goals in his 13 years with The Pilgrims. The pinnacle of his career should have been in 1925 when Jack was selected to represent England in a game versus Ireland, but his name was removed from the team sheet when officials discovered that he was black. (See Jack’s story)
The Jack Leslie Campaign was set up in 2019 by a couple of Argyle fans (Matt and Greg) who had learned of the story, and they were soon joined by a diverse team of volunteers .
The Aims of the Campaign:
To raise funds for and build a statue of Jack Leslie at Home Park, Plymouth
In March 2021 the committee, together with Jack’s grand-daughters, Lynn Gill and Lesley, reviewed the initial submissions. They were blown away by the quality, imagination and scope of the proposals, before drawing up a long list and eventually a short-list of four finalists https://jackleslie.co.uk/news/statue-sculptor-shortlist-announced/
After an overwhelming response from exceptionally talented artists, the campaign can announce its shortlist.
The Jack Leslie Campaign is working towards a lasting monument to this pioneering football legend and is delighted to announce the four short-listed candidates to design and sculpt the statue, which will be situated outside Plymouth Argyle’s stadium, Home Park.
Through March the committee reviewed artist submissions and were blown away by the quality, imagination and scope of the proposals, before drawing up a long-list. The commissioning team is made up of the committee, together with Jack’s grand-daughters, Lynn, Gill and Lesley.
Campaign Co-founder Greg Foxsmith said, “We would like to thank all the artists who spent such time and energy on creating such brilliant proposals. It made it really difficult for us to select a shortlist but there were four artists whose ideas and portfolios stood out.
Jack’s grand-daughter Lesley said, “We love the design ideas and we are excited to see a statue that is an accurate portrayal of Grandad and reflects his significance in football history.”
Jack Leslie Campaign co-founder, Matt Tiller, said, “It’s such an important decision that we are taking great care working with everyone involved to create a fitting memorial. We will now be interviewing the short-listed candidates and, no doubt, have an even harder time ahead choosing the final sculptor but we are excited at the prospect.”
More Information on the campaign and process to date:
Jack Leslie signed for Plymouth Argyle from Barking in 1921 and scored 137 goals in his 13 years with The Pilgrims. The pinnacle of his career should have been in 1925 when Jack was selected to represent England in a game versus Ireland, but his name was removed from the team sheet when officials discovered that he was black. (See Jack’s story)
The Jack Leslie Campaign was set up in in 2019 by a couple of Argyle fans (Matt and Greg) who had learned of the story, and they were soon joined by a diverse team of volunteers .
The campaign is also keen to hear from businesses who would like to get involved. These extra funds will not only help the statue project, but also the educational work involving the monument and the Jack Leslie story. Please contact us for more information: email@example.com
From the very beginning of our campaign, we were contacted by sculptors and artists excited at the opportunity to create a suitable representation of Jack. At the end of last year we threw out an invitation to any other prospective sculptors to express an interest.
We have been delighted by the strong response, and have a large, diverse and talented pool to choose from! As promised, we have written to all potential candidates with set questions and selected criteria, in order that we can choose a “long-list”. The selection process will then continue, as we progress, together with our key partners and Jack’s family, to making the difficult final decision for the Jack Leslie Statue.
Ideally, we would still like to aim for completion of this project by the end of this year, the centenary of Jack arriving in Plymouth from Barking, but our main aim is to ensure a statue of suitable quality, so we will work with our successful candidate to confirm a realistic timetable, based on experience and factoring in the current pandemic.
We have required all answers to our preliminary brief and questionnaire to be received by 05 March.
We do not have a specific pose in mind, but the campaign and Jack’s family do want to represent him as a player and legend of Plymouth Argyle. This will be a representation of Jack to be mounted on a plinth. Indeed, the plinth and surround are almost of equal importance as the statue.
Firstly, we want to tell Jack’s story – to remember the injustice – but also to celebrate his achievements. Secondly, we need to recognise those who have made significant contributions, making the statue possible, ensuring that it can enhance the overall concept without detracting from the sculpture.
The location will be outside Home Park, Plymouth Argyle’s stadium. It must be able to stand the test of time and become an iconic piece of art for the club and city.
(Our prospective artists have then been set 7 questions, covering past experience, design ideas, budget, process, inclusivity and more)
FURTHER UPDATES TO FOLLOW
If you would like updates on progress, remember to hit the subscribe button on our home-page for our email bulletins.
Campaign Co-founders Matt and Greg continue to learn about statues. Greg is blogging about some of his statue visits here. Below: Matt visits the Mary Seacole statue in London
Below: Another artist impression of a Jack Leslie statue, this time by Martin Rawson (image copyrighted)
Christmas Raffle in support of the campaign and Mind Devon
We’ve teamed with the Jack Leslie Raffle (@LeslieRaffle on Twitter) to raffle off some fantastic Plymouth Argyle items in support of both the Campaign and Mind Devon. Here’s your chance to win a wide range of Argyle Themed Prizes including…
Prize 1 – A Signed 20/21 Home Argyle Shirt by Plymouth Argyle’s 20/21 Squad
Prize 2 – A Signed 12/13 Home Argyle Shirt by Guy Branston
Prize 3 – A Signed 19/20 Home Argyle Shirt by Joel Grant
Prize 4 – A Signed 20/21 Home Argyle Shirt, signed by former player and Campaign supporter Cherno Samba!
Prize 5 – Argyle Top Trumps and Monopoly Set
Prize 6 – A Signed Pair of Gloves by Luke McCormick
Prize 7 – A Pin Set donated by COYG Badges
Prize 8 – A Signed 01/02 Home Argyle Shirt by Paul Connolly
1. If you haven’t already got a PayPal Account, register at their Website or on their App.
2. Next go to this link – paypal.me/JLRaffle and donate money based on how many tickets you would want – £2 for 1, £4 for 2 etc. There is no limit on tickets.
3. Make sure the “Paying for goods or a service” is NOT ticked.
4. Add a note with your name and a way of contacting (Phone Number, Social Media or Email) where it says “Add Note”. Make sure it is sufficiently clear for us to contact you if you win!
5. Your name is then placed into a random wheel generator, in accordance with how many tickets you have purchased (eg if you have paid £6, your name is entered 3 times)
6. The Raffle will then take place SATURDAY 19TH DECEMBER at 5:00PM! We will live stream the draw on our Facebook Page.
7. The winners will then be contacted and the prizes delivered.
PS – If you win a prize other than the one you want, obviously it is yours to dispose of as you feel fit, but you can if you wish can gift your prize to either the Argyle Fans Trust or Argyle Community Trust, who can use a gift of this type to carry on their amazing work!
1 Read more about how and why we have teamed up with Devon Mind, in this personal blog from our youth ambassador and raffle organiser Jamie Burton here. (You can follow Jamie on twitter as @LeslieRaffle )
2 The Jack Leslie Campaign is able to run this small society raffle having registered with the Licensing Authority (Plymouth CC)
3 We are grateful to all at PAFC and in particular Kevin Nancekivell for supporting this raffle, and all the players and legends for donating prizes!