We've passed the £100,000 target. As you can see we are still fundraising but we now know this... the statue of Jack Leslie will happen.
Last night we had an event which became a celebration as we hit the target a few hours before we went live. Jack's granddaughters, comedian and Argyle fan, Josh Widdicombe, club legend, Ronnie Mauge, Chairman Simon Hallett and his wife Jane who have been big supporters joined us to talk about Jack and the campaign. We held a fantastic raffle which raised more than £2000 and a truly special guest to surprise Lyn, Lesley and Gill; a hero of theirs who knew Jack from his West Ham days... Sir Trevor Brooking.
Nearly 100 years ago Jack Leslie should have been pulling on an England football shirt and making history. But he was denied because of his race. It’s time for us all to right that wrong and recognise this remarkable player’s achievements with a statue. A memorial to someone who deserves a public monument.
Jack Leslie’s reputation as a goal creator and scorer for Plymouth Argyle spread across the country and he was picked to play for England against Ireland in 1925. Jack was told by his manager and it was reported in the local and national press. He was elated. But within days Jack’s name had disappeared from the team sheet and the incident was brushed under the carpet. One national reporter towards the end of Jack’s career said, “Had he been white he would have been a certain English international.”
Jack scored 137 goals in 401 appearances for Argyle from 1921-34 and became club captain, leading the team to a cup victory against Manchester United. There is no statue outside Home Park, Plymouth’s ground. What better way to celebrate this pioneering sportsman and create a focal point for home and visiting fans alike? Please join us in building a statue that creates a legacy to Jack’s memory and reminds us that racism has no place in sport or society.
We have been overwhelmed by the support of the footballing community led by Plymouth Argyle; the club backs this monument to a true club legend who should also have won national fame. The FA has given its full support as an official sponsor, acknowledging the importance of recognising Jack Leslie's story. Alongside them, members of the PFA (Professional Footballers Association) and FSA (Football Supporters Association) are key supporters and have been instrumental in pushing this forward.
Most importantly, Jack’s family welcome this wholeheartedly. His granddaughter, Lyn, says, 'My sisters, Lesley, Gill and I remember Jack as a wonderful grandad who looked after us and told us funny stories. We and the wider family are delighted that he is now being recognised for the sporting achievements he was so modest about.’
Jack Leslie was well loved in Plymouth and the wider football community. In his later years he was a boot boy at West Ham... shining the leathers of World Cup winners. He received a standing ovation when he returned to Plymouth in the sixties but in the years to follow Jack's story faded into history. Now, there is renewed impetus to recognise him. Argyle has named its new boardroom after Jack and we are determined to create a memorial so all fans know of Jack Leslie's accomplishments and that he should have been capped by his country.
The aim is for an imposing, landmark bronze full body statue of Jack in his prime on a stone plinth.
It will stand outside Home Park – the exact location will be decided in collaboration with Plymouth Argyle and in consultation with Plymouth City Council. We’ve had initial discussions and will update you all on this once we are able to discuss it in person on site.
We have already had discussions with some top sculptors in this field and the plan is to build a shortlist of designs to decide on the best and keep supporters updated throughout.
Our target is £100,000 as we feel this is the minimum needed to create the monument we aspire to build. Should we exceed it, we will enhance the project and add to the educational element of the campaign as expressed on our website.
We are a group of committed football fans whose aim is to share their passion for Jack's story in Plymouth and nationwide and create a fitting legacy at last. Please support our campaign with a donation. You can find out more about The Jack Leslie Campaign, its aims, the team and its supporters here: https://jackleslie.co.uk/
We already have some great rewards and will add to them as the campaign progresses. Here are the fantastic pieces of artwork by Argyle fan and Private Eye cartoonist, Rob Bullen, which are on offer as limited edition, signed prints...
We caught up with the legend that is Viv Anderson, the first black footballer to play for the full, senior England international side in 1978. It was a real honour to talk to him about Jack Leslie...
And, here's the brilliant zoom chat we had with West Ham legend, Clyde Best, Jack's granddaughters and some key supporters. Clyde was the club's only black player at the time, but Jack Leslie cared for his boots....