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Jack Leslie Hall of Fame Induction on TV

BT Sport covered the West Ham v Chelsea game on Saturday and included the news of Jack’s National Football Museum Hall of Fame Trophy, telling the story and interviewing Sir Trevor Brooking who knew Jack from his time managing the Hammers’ boot room from 1967-82.

Thanks to BT Sport for sharing the footage and covering the story.

Jack Leslie Inducted into National Football Museum Hall of Fame!

● Jack Leslie was inducted into National Football Museum Hall of Fame pitch side at West Ham United’s London Stadium ahead of their No Room for Racism fixture against Chelsea FC on 11 February 2023. 

● This induction continues the great work of the Jack Leslie Campaign, which has shone light on a true pioneer for ethnic minorities in football, with Jack now cast in bronze outside Home Park, and with confirmation of an Honorary England cap from the FA.

The Jack Leslie story

Born in Canning Town in 1901 to a Jamaican father and English mother, Leslie started his career playing for non-league Barking Town winning the London League title, before going on to become a goalscoring great and captain during 14 seasons at Plymouth Argyle between 1921-35.

Thanks to the Campaign, his story is now better known – and you can read more here.

The Jack Leslie Campaign was founded in 2020 by Plymouth fans Matt Tiller and Greg Foxsmith to celebrate, shine a light, and serve justice to his career and legacy. The pair contacted Leslie’s three granddaughters, Plymouth Argyle, Barking FC and West Ham United and, with the club’s support, Leslie has been eternalised in a bronze statue at Argyle’s Home Park stadium (unveiling story here)

Induction into the Football Museum Hall of Fame

Jack Leslie was inducted into the National Football Museum’s Hall of Fame in a pitch side ceremony at London Stadium on 11/02/23, where CEO Tim Desmond (pictured below) presented the award to Jack’s three granddaughters, alongside West Ham legends and the Campaign team.

Celebrating the news, Greg Foxsmith said on behalf of the Campaign: “We are delighted that fans from across the football community have responded positively to Jack’s story, and his induction into the NFM Hall of Fame is a great honour, welcomed by the Campaign and Jack’s family.”

Presentation of maquette to West Ham

West Ham United, who are proud to recognise Leslie as an important part of their Club’s history, commissioned a bronze maquette of the statue created by sculptor Andy Edwards, which was presented by Argyle legend and club ambassador Ronnie Mauge to Sir Trevor Brooking (representing West Ham)

L-R Greg Foxsmith, Ronnie Mauge, Sir Trevor, Carlton Cole

National Football Museum

The National Football Museum Hall of Fame aims to celebrate and highlight the achievements of those who have made an outstanding contribution to football. Judges voted unanimously to induct Leslie in recognition of his stellar career and important story, laying foundations for the ethnically diverse sporting community of the future.

The Hall of Fame, supported by the Professional Footballers’ Association, celebrates the achievements of those who have made an outstanding contribution to the game, either on or off the pitch.

For more information, visit www.nationalfootballmuseum.com  

Jack Leslie maquette in pride of place at National Football Museum

Statue Talks

NEXT STATUE TALK07/10/23 @1130

We are delighted that the statue unveiling was a success, and thank everyone for the positive comments! One of our aims and objectives remains telling Jack Leslie’s story – which we do through our Black History Month Programme and beyond.

We had many requests to use the statue as a focal point to share highlight’s of Jack’s incredible story as an Argyle legend and a Pioneer, and so are delighted to confirm that the Campaign will do presentations (5- 10 mins) before some home games.

We will update this post as well as social media, with details and dates.

Talks previously have been delivered by either or both of the Campaign Co-founders Matt and Greg, and were well received with good questions and comments from those attending, with positive feedback. Away fans are of course equally welcome.

The next statue talk will be on Saturday 04 November (12-1)

So, whether attending the match or not, do swing by and learn more about Jack Leslie, the campaign and the statue- as well as an opportunity to see the England cap, and buy a signed copy of Jack’s biography from the author Matt Tiller!

As Matt says (follow on X @Tillerpop) “ Come along to the retail unit by @JackLeslieCamp statue @Argyle’s @homeparkstadium today from 12-1pm and I’ll be signing copies of The Lion Who Never Roared. Jack’s cap will be with me. Stop by for a chat. @Boro fans welcome too!”

NEXT JACK LESLIE TALK

Date: 04/11/23 (from 12)

Venue: Jack Leslie Statue, Jack Leslie Way, Home Park, Plymouth

Speaker” Matt Tiller

STATUE SPEAKERS

Hayley Kemp, Greg Foxsmith, Patrick Strode, Matt Tiller

Bio details of above here: https://jackleslie.co.uk/the-team/

Jack Leslie Campaign: A review of Black History Month 2022

We believe that it is important to acknowledge black history every month, but nonetheless we are always happy to present a range of activities for Black History Month in October each year, and 2022 was no different!

With October out the way, you can still book us for in-person or or ”virtual” presentations -for schools, companies, football clubs, associations, businesses or other organisations. Contact us for bookings -contact details here.

We love telling the Jack Leslie story, and ensure that it is relevant to contemporary issues. The reason we do this is to fulfil our objectives to share jack’s story, celebrate diversity and combat racism:

Our aims include using Jack’s story to challenge stereotypes, prejudice and discrimination

You can read about our previous BHM presentations in 2020 here and in 2021 here !

REVIEW OF Black History Month 2022

1 Jack Leslie Campaign at Wembley

In the build-up to Black History Month we attendied Wembley stadium on 26th September for the England International, where Jack’s granddaughters were special guests of the FA. We were talking about Jack’s story and his England call-up, at a game where there was a special tribute to black football pioneers Benjamin Odeje and John Charles, both of whom played for England at school-boy or under 18 level. (1)

Jack was selected to play for England in 1925 (2) CARTOON BY ROB BULLEN

2 Sport In Words

#SportInWords

We kicked off the month with our role in a spectacular feature with BT Sports called Sport In Words, compered by Benjamin Zephaniah (pictured below with Jack Leslie’s granddaughters) and Jacqueline Shepherd.

Jack’s granddaughters with Benjamin

Different spoken word artists performed pieces about black sporting legends and pioneers, and Big Scoop performed a piece about Jack Leslie…..

Big Scoop performing, Jack’s family watching, and England legend Andy Cole speaking about Jack’s legacy

The programme aired on BT Sport 1 on 02 September, and was repeated on all BT channels throughout October- you can view Big Scoops piece about Jack Leslie here: https://www.bt.com/sport/watch/video/clips/2022/september/sport-in-words-jack-leslie

Matt, Greg, Big Scoop with Jack’s family

Big Scoop later attended the statue unveiling (see below) and performed his piece again- you can see and hear more about that here: https://jackleslie.co.uk/news/big-scoop/

3 Black History Came to Life: the statue unveiling

Our biggest event for Black History Month happened on the 7th October- the unveiling of the Jack Leslie statue at Home Park stadium- history being made as well as commemorated- detailed here: https://jackleslie.co.uk/news/the-unveiling/

Jack’s statue being unveiled

4 Schools and education

We delivered presentations at a number of schools, both on-line and in person, including Holy Cross and St Andrews Primary schools in Plymouth, Ashmount school in London

We also did a presentation for the Student Union at the University of Plymouth (pictured below)

Matt and Greg at Plymouth Uni
Greg outside Ashmount school

Looking forward

We have a number of bespoke options to make an informative and enjoyable presentation to help those companies who are interested.

NOTES

(1) Benjamin Odeje attended the game at Wembley as part of a wider plan from the FA to host a table of trailblazers who have a special place in the history of black footballers. We met with the Chief Executive of the FA, and later had confirmation that the Association will be awarding a honorary posthumous cap to Jack’s family!

(2) BLACK HISTORY-THE JACK LESLIE STORY :-

The England call-up (by Matt Tiller) https://jackleslie.co.uk/jack/england/

Jack Leslie life-story (by Bill Hern) http://www.gregfoxsmith.co.uk/the-jack-leslie-story-guest-blog-by-bill-hern/

BIG SCOOP

For Black History Month, BT Sports broadcast a programme in October 2022 featuring Spoken Word Artists performing pieces about black sporting icons.

One of the Artists -Big Scoop- did a piece (called ”Unsung Hero”) about Jack Leslie- and Jack’s grand-daughters were in the invited audience to hear the debut performance.

Big Scoop’s performance that night is available here.

The Jack Leslie Campaign and Jack’s family were so amazed and delighted, they invited Big Scoop to perform as special guest at the unveiling ceremony– and Big Scoop accepted, travelling from London on his first ever trip to Plymouth to wow the crowds from the stage outside Argyle’s stadium at Home Park. His performance was also live-streamed, and can still be seen on you-tube here. (at 31 mins 45 secs in)

You can follow Big Scoop on twitter @BigScoop_ and on Insta

Now Big Scoop has provided us with the words from his piece, reproduced below with his kind permission.

UNSUNG HERO. Words by Big Scoop

Now a lot of you may not know who this is so all I ask is please just try and hear, 

Coz I may not be an speakers salesman but I’m putting you on to a pioneer. 

This man excelled in the world of football which took his team to a higher tier 

In a sense he held back but still showed when you stay grounded your gonna take of like Ryan Air, 


In 1901 he was born in canning Town and his first team was barking, 

He knew how to score had pace and was wizard at passing, 

As a defender you couldnt day dream coz he was a night mare marking, 

I mean this man was no joke but if he was on your team you was laughing.


And when he left barking he had silverware but he was just getting started, 

You could say that he came from the mud coz right there where the seed was planted, 

He wasn’t just known for his skill 

But when he joined Plymouth argyle thats seed uprooted and we saw him grow on the field. 


At Plymouth argyle a star was born 

A black professional footballer in those days wasn’t the norm, 

In truth he was the only one and that fact just can’t be ignored,

He played in the 1920,s and that fact still has me floored, 

he took his window of oppurtunity and used it open doors. 


In 1925 he got that England call and im sure he was loving the fact

But what should be a joyous occasion was about to be taken back, 

His name would soon dissappear from records and the irony is he never heard Jack 

But we’re talking the 1920s he got denied coz he was black, 


And the truth is he could of called a wrap 

But he chose to stay in his lane and keep his carrer on track, 

This man is a unsung hero, who’s life had such a impact 

And for that I take my hat off too him coz he really should of been capped.


but he still left his mark and showed his world class pedigree, 

He retired a legend at Plymouth argyle it was there he created a legacy, 

And the one thing testament to that fact is the board room is now named in his memory.


This is a man that needs to be recognised 

But let his legacy be a reminder that race should never be weaponised, 

He played in a time before broadcasting but since then the revolutions been televised.

Big Scoop.

THE UNVEILING

On 7th October 2022 the Jack Leslie statue was revealed in front of a crowd of hundreds at Home Park stadium, Plymouth, and live-streamed* to the world. The event was a brilliant occasion covered by national and local media, including this BBC feature, and later on the One Show (21:45 mins in)

Jack’s granddaughters Lesley, Lyn, and Gill, who have been so warm, gracious, supportive, and stoic, unveiled the statue. It was an emotional day, topped by news from the FA that Jack is to be awarded a posthumous honorary cap. The campaign Co-founders Matt Tiller and Greg Foxsmith were joined on stage by sculptor Andy Edwards and Argyle legend Ronnie Mauge whose words and support meant a huge amount to us all. Spoken word artist Big Scoop performed his moving poem about Jack which went down a storm.

In the crowd were Argyle legends including Dwight Marshall, Mike Trebilcock, Rommy Bocu, Kevin Hodges and Chris Harrison, as well as the current Argyle men’s team (with manager Stephen Schumacher) and women’s team (including our sponsored player Tiana Campbell). In addition we were joined by representatives from Barking FC and West Ham United (including Carlton Cole)-see their film of the occasion here.

*Argyle TV live streamed the event and you can watch it back here (starts at 10:45)…

And Plymouth Argyle Heritage Archive‘s Matthew Ellacott took some fantastic pictures for us. Here are just a few:

NOTES

1 Further unveiling coverage on EFL website here

2 The Campaign are grateful to everyone who supported us or helped with the unveiling – too many to mention here, but special mention to PAFC, the Green Taverners, and for the staging of the event itself Mark Buckingham and PL1 events.

Jack Leslie campaign sponsors Tiana!

The Jack Leslie Campaign are delighted to confirm that we are sponsoring Argyle Women’s team player Tiana Campbell for this season. Tiana is a supporter of the campaign, and was inspired by Jack’s story which resonated for her. She broke into the team at the end of last season having come through Argyle women’s development team.

Jack Leslie joined Argyle in 1921, the same year that the FA banned women’s football. Although that ban has ended, and England’s Lionesses enjoyed spectacular support and success this season, discrimination within football remains an issue and one of the Aims of this Campaign is to celebrate diversity and combat prejudice.

Tiana said ”I am delighted the Jack Leslie Campaign have chosen to sponsor me. The Campaign is great, with very good ideals, and is helping to push football in the right direction by celebrating the diversity within the game”

We are proud to support Tiana, and wish her and the team every success this season!

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

UNVEILING DATE!!! FRI 7th OCTOBER 2022

Here’s the news you’ve all been waiting for and that we are thrilled to announce. Here is our press release. Do contact us for more details…

THE JACK LESLIE STATUE WILL BE UNVEILED AT MIDDAY ON FRIDAY OCTOBER 7th 2022

More details on timings and attendees here: https://jackleslie.co.uk/unveiling/

As the curtain is raised on a new football season, The Jack Leslie Campaign is excited to announce this highly anticipated event, which will be the culmination of its ongoing fundraising efforts.

  • The statue 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.
  • Work on the 12ft tall monument continues apace with the statue being cast in bronze this month. Foundations have now been laid by Plymouth firm Ryearch and the statue will stand outside Home Park at the ‘popular corner’ outside the Lyndhurst and Devonport stands. 

The brainchild of two Argyle fans, Matt Tiller and Greg Foxsmith, 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, Plymouth Argyle Football Club and Jack Leslie’s three granddaughters, they have worked to bring the statue project to fruition. 

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 chosen 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 became 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.’

Jack Leslie’s three granddaughters, Lyn, Gill, and Lesley, who have supported the effort from the very start are looking forward to the unveiling, which is certain to be an emotional day.  “We are all so excited to see the completed statue of Grandad and join family and supporters at the unveiling. It will be amazing to see him, at long last, being acknowledged for the brilliant footballer he was, and we hope this monument inspires the youth of tomorrow to reach for their own goals.

Cutting from Plymouth Argyle FC Programme September 25th 1965 when Jack Leslie and Sammy Black returned to Home Park and a standing ovation from the fans. (Courtesy of the Jack Leslie Family)

The campaign commissioned Andy Edwards, a renowned artist who has created many of the top sporting works in the country, including the Stanley Matthews monument at Stoke City FC. 

He has just put the final touches to his work, which is now being cast in bronze at Castle Fine Arts Foundry. Meanwhile, Plymouth construction firm Ryearch, which has been delivering the Home Park improvements this summer, has laid the foundations and will work with the foundry to install the final piece. 

The statue will stand atop a granite plinth inscribed with information about Jack’s exploits, while the surrounding landscaping will commemorate key sponsors of the project. 

Matt Tiller and Greg Foxsmith with a section of the statue which is being cast at Castle Fine Arts Foundry. The bronze statue will be assembled and patinated before it is installed outside Home Park in Plymouth.

Campaign co-founders, Greg Foxsmith and Matt Tiller, said: 

We are delighted to announce the unveiling after a long, but hugely rewarding journey. Telling Jack’s story in Plymouth and across the UK has been inspiring to us and those who have heard it. To have the support of so many is incredible, and we can’t wait to reveal the final work. The statue and plinth will celebrate Jack’s life and achievements as well as tell the story of that injustice of 1925. It will be a proud moment for everyone involved when the monument is revealed outside Home Park where Jack plied his trade for so many years. 

Plymouth Argyle has been supportive of this fan-led project from the outset and will welcome supporters and VIPs from the football community to Home Park for the unveiling. 

The 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 and found on the campaign website: https://jackleslie.co.uk/unveiling/

Plymouth Argyle Chief Executive Officer, Andrew Parkinson, said: 

We are extremely excited to see Jack’s statue finally installed at Home Park in October. The tireless work and financial contributions of countless individuals – a great proportion of them coming from the Argyle family – has been a resounding success, and we are honoured to be enshrining one of the great trailblazers of our club’s history in stone at Home Park. We all look forward to welcoming Jack’s family to the club for the unveiling, which will be a celebration of his legacy at Argyle and beyond.”

The project was supported by thousands of donations from the footballing community locally, nationally, and beyond. Organisations including The Football Association, the Professional Footballers’ Association and the Football Supporters’ Association backed the project, which also received a grant from Plymouth City Council’s City Change Fund. 

Backers of the Campaign receive recognition on the statue surround, and with the unveiling imminent this is now a final opportunity for local businesses to support the campaign and statue, and join the likes of the University of Plymouth, Shore Financial and others in having their name inscribed in perpetuity alongside this significant monument. Additional contributions will be used to create a legacy fund for the maintenance of the statue and to help continue to spread the story of Jack Leslie far and wide. 

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

Individual contributions are welcome via the Crowdfunder site: www.crowdfunder.co.uk/jack-leslie-campaign 

Molten bronze is poured to create a section of the Jack Leslie statue at Castle Fine Arts Foundry.
Jack Leslie’s shorts are chipped out of the ceramic shell ready for the next stage of the process… assembling the full figure itself.

NOTES:

The Aims of the Campaign: 

  • To raise funds for and build a statue of Jack Leslie at Home Park, Plymouth
  • To promote and share Jack’s story.
  • To celebrate diversity and combat racism.

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 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.

In July 2020 the Campaign launched a crowd-funded appeal and smashed its £100,000 target in six weeks. One year later Andy Edwards was commissioned to create the Jack Leslie Statue.

LINK0

The Jack Leslie Campaign: https://jackleslie.co.uk/

Crowdfunder page: https://www.crowdfunder.co.uk/jack-leslie-campaign

Andy Edwards: https://www.cornoviiedwards.com/

Tavistock AFC back Jack Leslie Campaign

Tavistock AFC welcomed the Jack Leslie Campaign at their pre-season friendly against Plymouth Argyle at Langsford Park on Sunday July 17th.

Campaign co-founder Greg Foxsmith was able to talk to members of Tavistock AFC and fans of both clubs about the campaign, which is due to see a statue of Jack Leslie unveiled later this year.

The day also saw an earlier game between an Argyle legends team v Tavistock legends, and was kicked off by former Argyle player and Everton FA cup goal-scoring legend Mike Trebilcock, who backed the campaign saying:

“It is great to finally see proper recognition of this footballing great”.

Trebilcock was himself a pioneer of diversity in the professional game, being credited as the first black player to score in an FA cup final, although with characteristic modesty he prefers to be celebrated as the first Cornishman to achieve that feat. Mike Trebilcock will be one of the many VIP guests from the football community attending the Jack Leslie statue unveiling, together with supporters who contribute £100 or more.

Acting Club Chairman at Tavistock AFC Martin Williams said “we at Tavistock recognise the importance of this campaign, and the Jack Leslie story resonates across the footballing community in Devon

Martin Williams of Tavistock AFC

Greg Foxsmith said “we were delighted to meet up with friends at Tavistock AFC, and are grateful for their positive support of our campaign

The Jack Leslie Campaign has attracted support from all parts of Devon and across the World- and as revealed earlier in the Campaign, that has included support from the Football Trusts of rival clubs Exeter and Torquay (https://www.pafc.co.uk/news/2020/july/devon-unites-behind-jack-leslie)

As momentum builds toward the unveiling later this year, this is the last chance for football clubs, individuals and businesses to support the campaign with a contribution, and gain permanent recognition on the statue plinth.