Jack Leslie Statue

Jack Leslie Statue to be Unveiled in October

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A statue to recognise the career of Argyle legend Jack Leslie will be unveiled at Home Park on Friday, 7 October.

The statue will commemorate the pioneering footballer who scored 137 goals in 400 games for Argyle from 1921 to 1934. Jack was called up to play for England in 1925, but later denied his place because he was black.

Work on the 12ft monument is nearing completion, 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 corner outside the Lyndhurst Road and Devonport End 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, 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 and 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. The Daily Mail wrote of Jack in 1933: “Had he been white, he would have been a certain English international.”

Jack’s three granddaughters Lyn, Gill, and Lesley have supported the effort from the start and are looking forward to the unveiling, which is certain to be an emotional day. 

They said: “We are all so excited to see the completed statue of Grandad and to 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.”

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.

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. 

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 to 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 telling the story of the 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.”

The ceremony will take place at midday on Friday, 7 October. 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.

Argyle CEO 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 many individuals – a great proportion of themcoming 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 internationally. 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 themonument. 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 

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