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JACK LESLIE CAMPAIGN SEARCHES FOR FAMILY OF MAJOR SUPPORTER 

As the unveiling of the Jack Leslie statue approaches, the campaign is on a mission to track down relatives of Michael Victor Dawson. Michael made a significant donation which helped the campaign pass its £100,000 target in August 2020.

When campaign organisers tried to contact its many supporters they discovered that Michael had sadly passed away that month.

Co-founder, Matt Tiller said, “We are in touch with all our supporters, particularly those who pledged a large sum and will be recognised on the monument. When we didn’t hear from Michael we took to the internet and were saddened to discover that it seems he died soon after making his donation.

We have tried to contact family members without success, but we would dearly love to invite them to the unveiling to see Michael’s name etched in granite on the statue surrounds. If his relatives or anyone who knew Michael can get in touch then we would love to send them a VIP invite to the event.”

The statue of Jack Leslie will be unveiled at midday on Friday 7th October. It will commemorate the pioneering footballer, Jack Leslie, who scored 137 goals for Plymouth Argyle in the 1920s and 30s. He was called up for England in 1925 but later denied his place due to the colour of his skin.

The statue has now been cast in bronze and work continues on the granite plinth and surrounds to create an impressive 12foot monument. It will stand outside Home Park at the ‘popular corner’ outside the Lyndhurst and Devonport stands.

The Jack Leslie Campaign raised more than £100,000 in the summer of 2020 to create a fitting tribute to this local and national legend. Since then, together with a committee of volunteers, the football club and Jack Leslie’s three granddaughters, they have worked to bring the statue project to fruition.

Co-founder Greg Foxsmith said, “The information we have been able to find online suggests Michael was a key part of a boilermaker business, Harris Pye. Jack Leslie’s original trade before and after his glittering football career was as a boilermaker. We can’t help but wonder if there was a connection there or if there is another reason for Michael’s support. Whatever the motivation behind his donation, we hugely appreciate it. It was made very early on in our fundraising campaign and helped us get this important project off the ground. It would mean a lot to us to be able to thank his family and hope it would mean a lot to them too.”

Born in East London, Jack Leslie signed for Plymouth Argyle in 1921 and scored 137 goals in 400 appearances before injury forced his retirement in 1934. Lauded as a true Argyle legend, he is now more widely known as the first black footballer to have been selected for England in 1925. Within days his name disappeared from the team to play Ireland in October that year. Back in the 1920s and 30s Jack Leslie was a huge hit with Plymouth fans as the team won promotion to Division Two in 1930 and then becoming club captain. But his talent also won him fame across the nation. The Daily Mail wrote of Jack in 1933, ‘Had he been white he would have been a certain English international.’

The unveiling ceremony itself will take place at midday on Friday 7th October and a crowd of footballing dignitaries, campaign sponsors and supporters, as well as many members of Jack’s family, will gather for the big reveal.

The following day, as the Pilgrims welcome Accrington Stanley to Home Park, will be a chance for thousands of fans to see the statue for the first time. The game will be a tribute to Jack Leslie and send out a message to celebrate and welcome diversity in sport and the community. More details of the event will be announced as the date approaches.

Please contact the Campaign for more information: jacklesliecampaign@gmail.com

Contributions are still welcome via the Crowdfunder site: https://www.crowdfunder.co.uk/jack-leslie-campaign