WE'VE BUILT THE STATUE, NOW WE'RE TELLING THE STORY
Jack Leslie Campaign: Black History Month 2023
It is important to acknowledge black history every month but we are always happy to present a range of activities for Black History Month each October, and 2023 was no different!
Last October (2022) was an incredibly busy but amazing month for the campaign which also included the statue unveiling. You can also read about our previous BHM presentations in 2020 here and in 2021 here! We do presentations al year round, and have worked with organisations such as the CPS, the GDC, a trades union, a leading law-firm, the Environment Agency and the University of Plymouth as well as commercial businesses. Commercial sponsors can be credited on our website, social media, and potentially added in perpetuity on the statue plinth. For further details contact Greg or Matt by email
21st October: The Campaign visited West Brom to talk to fans about Jack’s story at the Championship fixture between WBAFC and PAFC (as part of our ongoing series at football clubs -details here ) Thanks to WBA for their engagement and hospitality!
29th October: At the London stadium as guests of West Ham United, talking about the campaign
4 Jack Leslie statue – limited edition framed print!
October saw the launch of a limited edition framed photograph of the Jack Leslie statue, in conjunction with esteemed local photographer Jonathan Ward and Kaya Galleries – more info here. (and as reported in Evening Herald here)
JACK LESLIE’S FAMILY PRESENT HIS HONORARY ENGLAND CAP TO ARGYLE!
One year ago, Jack Leslie’s bronze statue was unveiled at Home Park, and this incredible occasion was marked by a historic pledge. Debbie Hewitt, FA chair, announced that Jack was to be awarded a posthumous honorary cap in recognition of the adversity he faced due to the colour of his skin. Jack was the first black footballer to be selected for England back in 1925, but due to prejudice he then never got the chance to represent his country (read “Jack’s story” here) The honorary cap was presented as promised to Jack’s family in March this year ahead of England’s 2-0 victory over Ukraine (see here)
On the morning of the Swansea City match on 7th October, the anniversary of the unveiling, Jack’s family, the campaign team and Argyle legend, Ronnie Mauge, met at the statue to show off the cap and talk to fans. Appropriately, the game was Argyle’s designated Kick it Out fixture and the charity’s CEO Sanjay Bhandari joined us and the club for the day. The cap was also shown to fans in a packed Green Taverners, before finally being presented to Ronnie (in his role as club ambassador) by Jack’s granddaughters on the pitch at half-time.
The cap means a huge amount to Jack’s family, and they have loved having it. But they too had made a pledge. To bring the cap home… to Home Park. It was here that Jack made his name, was told he’d been picked for England and bounced back after his cruel deselection. He went on to score 137 goals in 400 appearances for Plymouth Argyle between 1921 and 1934 and captained the club to its highest league position, something that has only been equalled once in the decades that followed.
Jack’s granddaughters, Lesley, Lyn and Gill feel this the right place for the cap, ‘The campaign to recognise our grandad has meant so much to the whole family and to have the support of so many people after so long is mind-blowing. When granddad returned to Plymouth Argyle as a guest of honour in 1965, he got a standing ovation from the thousands of fans who remembered and loved him. He welled-up when he shared those special memories. So, the three of us knew that the cap had to come here. Jack Leslie embraced Plymouth just as it embraced him. We are proud to present his cap to be displayed at Home Park where our grandad became a hero.‘
When Jack’s name was in the papers 98 years ago as part of the England team to travel to Ireland there was a huge buzz in Plymouth. ‘Everyone in the town was full of it,’ said Jack. Then everything went quiet, and this young talent was cruelly dropped before the game due to the colour of his skin. He was frequently tipped as an England player in the years that followed but the FA had already made its decision.
Jack Leslie Campaign co-founders Greg Foxsmith and Matt Tiller said, ‘For the FA to accept that Jack was the first black player to be selected for England and to recognise that it was the colour of his skin that put an end to his chances was a massive step. And for Jack’s family who have carried that injustice with them all these years to now bring the cap here to Plymouth is a wonderful gesture. We are proud of them, the club, the Green Army and Jack.‘
The cap is now displayed in the Jack Leslie Boardroom alongside a unique maquette. It can be seen by fans doing one of Argyle’s stadium tours. It has been donated on permanent loan to the club with a view to making it available to fans as much as possible through events and exhibitions.
The Jack Leslie Campaign co-founders Matt Tiller and Greg Foxsmith continue to tell the story in schools and organisations including football clubs. Read more about the campaign at jackleslie.co.uk, and the other presentations and events for October (Black History Month) here.
Matt’s biography of Jack Leslie, The Lion Who Never Roared: The Star Robbed of England Glory is out on 23 October and will be available in the Argyle Store (or pre-order here)
JACK LESLIE CAMPAIGN SPONSORS TIANA CAMPBELL AT LISKEARD WFC
The Jack Leslie Campaign are delighted to confirm that this season (2023/24) we are sponsoring Tiana Campbell of Liskeard Women FC.
Tiana is a supporter of the campaign, and was inspired by Jack’s story which resonated for her. The campaign sponsored her last season at Argyle Women’s First Team , after she came through the women’s development team.
Greg Foxsmith of the Campaign said “our campaign challenges discrimination and prejudice in football, and that applies in women’s football too. We are delighted to continue to support Tiana and work with her and wish her every success. We have been impressed with how Liskeard WFC are supporting women’s football and have positive values”
Tiana said “I am delighted to be sponsored by the Jack Leslie Campaign for the second season in a row. The values of the Campaign fit perfectly with what I believe in. Football is an inclusive sport that should support all participants whatever their background”
We are proud to support Tiana, and wish her and the team every success this season!
A representative of the Campaign will attend Liskeard Athletic WFC home game on 08 October to see Tiana in action. Come and say hello!
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/
If you subscribe to the newsletter you’ll be kept up to date with progress with a regular, but not too frequent, bulletin. Here’s April’s…
Hello and Thank You!
We just wanted to show our gratitude for getting on board early and let you know what we’re doing here at The Jack Leslie Campaign. Here’s the key stuff…
It’s a very difficult time, so we totally understand if you can’t donate right now. But if you can, it will really help us reach our target and get Jack’s statue built…TO DONATE CLICK HERE.
We’ll need to raise at least £100,000. Yes, it’s a big number but we know it is possible as many other statue campaigns show and are confident that with your help we can do it.
Our campaign will be officially launched on Crowdfunder at an appropriate time when football returns.
Please do VISIT THE WEBSITE for updated information on the campaign, the team, key supporters and donation information.
What have we been up to?
Spoken to Jack’s three granddaughters Lyn, Lesley and Gillian who are brilliant and totally behind the effort. They paint a wonderful picture of their granddad who was not only a fantastic footballer but a wonderful man. It has inspired us further to ensure that a fitting memorial is created.
Secured key support from individuals and organisations.
Won a place on Crowdfunder’s Big Impact Programme, which will give us help and support to reach our target.
Met (prior to the lockdown!) and spoken to several politicians who will assist in making this happen.
How else can you help?
We already have an impressive list of high profile supporters but are keen to attract more – do you know anyone that we might approach for potential support? Please put us in touch!
We are keen to expand our network and committee. We need people with time and energy, particularly with skills in marketing, promotion, fundraising, social media campaigns, football, diversity or anti-racism campaign. Interested in helping out? Please let us know!
This weekend members of Jack’s family were due to visit Home Park as VIP guests in the new boardroom. We were planning to attend and launch our plan to raise funds for a statue. Obviously we are all gutted this is not happening now but are proud of Argyle’s efforts to support the community and the NHS during this crisis.
We hope this visit will happen in the autumn and will be our springboard to launch our official Crowdfunder campaign.
We really appreciate your time and support. Please donate if you can and spread the word – ask your friends and family to sign up and join us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.