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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/