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)
Linda Gilroy’s Photo of Michael Foot has been auctioned for the Jack Leslie Campaign!
This photograph is of Michael Foot, former leader of the Labour Party, sitting for a portrait for renowned artist Robert Lenkiewicz. The photo was taken circa 2001 by Labour MP, Linda Gilroy who served as the Member of Parliament for Plymouth Sutton from 1997 to 2010.
It is one of only 2 prints of the photograph currently in existence, of which no more than a maximum of 20 copies will ever be reproduced.
The photograph, kindly given to the campaign by Linda Gilmore, was auctioned on eBay ( here) and raised over £250 for the Campaign!
The painting, unfinished at the time of the artist’s death, was acquired by the House of Commons Art Commission and displayed in Portcullis House London (detail here)
The original photograph itself was exhibited in 2001 as part of an exhibition of photographs taken by MPs, originally in Westminster & later touring the country.
The image captures Michael Foot sporting the green and black scarf of his beloved home-town team Plymouth Argyle. It shows him sitting in Robert Lenkiewicz’s atmospheric studio in the historic Barbican area of Plymouth, amongst the artist’s other works. It also captures the canvass that Lekiewicz was working on. A piece of art in it’s own right, it captures the artist’s process as well as the effervescent nature of the late great Michael Foot.
The rear of the frame is signed by Linda Gilroy, to whom the Campaign expresses it’s grateful thanks.
ALL PROCEEDS FROM THE AUCTION WENT TO THE JACK LESLIE STATUE CROWDFUNDING CAMPAIGN.
If you have something you wish to donate for the Campaign to raise funds, please get in touch via the website. Follow @JackLeslieCamp and @LeslieRaffle on twitter for details of future sales.
CURRENT RAFFLE – England top signed by Ian Wright-tickets £2- draw on 1st August- detail here
At this extraordinary, and sometimes polarising, time in our history with such a focus on monuments, it is great to be campaigning to build something positive with an anti-racist message at its heart.
We not only want to build a statue as a memorial to Jack Leslie, but also use his story to celebrate diversity and combat racism. We’ve updated our home page with our Aims & Objectives to say just that.
We’ve also just published some FAQs in case you have any… and do get in touch if you have any other questions, suggestions or offers of help.
And, of course, we welcome donations and we’ve had a flurry in the last few days. We are still very mindful of the current situation and won’t be launching in earnest until football returns to normal. But to all those who have so far, thank you. It really is appreciated and will help us get off to a flyer when the Crowdfunder finally goes live.
TO DONATE CLICK HERE – We need to raise at least £100,000. Sounds daunting, but we know we can do it with your help.
Please do VISIT THE WEBSITE for updated information on the campaign, the team and see our growing list of key supporters. What else have we been up to?
Had very fruitful discussions with the team at Plymouth Argyle who are supportive and will be crucial in helping us fundraise.
Welcomed Amanda Jacks from the Football Supporters Association on to our committee. The FSA will help us get our message out there and may also provide additional funding to help us spread Jack’s story.
We are always keen to add to our list of high profile supporters so if you know of anyone who might be interested then put us in touch!
If you know any businesses who may want to help and get involved in some way then do put them in touch.
We are keen to expand our network. We need people with time and energy, particularly with skills in marketing, promotion, fundraising and social media campaigns. Do get in touch if you are interested.
If you are a Plymouth Argyle fan (as many of you are!) then you will be celebrating promotion! It’s been a very odd time in football and commiserations if it hasn’t worked out for your team. We’ve been enjoying Rob Bullen’s Argyle ‘Fat Lady Sings’ cartoon updates through the EFL decision making process and Rob has also drawn these brilliant pictures of Jack. Find him @robbybullen on Twitter.
So, as we continue to prepare the ground for our launch, we wanted to thank you for getting on board and following our progress. Do encourage others to sign up, donate if you can and spread the word on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.