Jack Leslie

The Lion Who Never Roared available now in Argyle superstore

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The Lion Who Never Roared, the story of Jack Leslie, is out now on hardback through Pitch Publishing and is available in the Argyle Superstore. It includes a fantastic selecction of photographs, many from the Leslie family archive.

Author and Argyle fan Matt Tiller will in attendance at the Sheffield Wednesday game signing copies. He will also be attending the Middlesbrough match showcasing Jack's posthumous honorary cap and signing books at the Puma unit by Jack's statue from 12pm-1pm.

The Lion Who Never Roared is Jack's life story; he was born in East London to a Jamaican father and a white, English mother and was signed by Plymouth as a 19 year old from Barking Town in 1921. He became an Argyle legend playing 400 times and scoring 137 league and cup goals.

Jack Leslie was a pioneer. For most of his career he was the only black player and was the first to be appointed captain of a Football League side. He is now well-known for the honour he should have won. Jack Leslie was the first black player to be selected for England in 1925, but he was quietly dropped due to the colour of his skin and never allowed to represent his country.

This new book tells that story in detail and his remarkable life from childhood in East London through the Argyle years to his time at West Ham United, where he worked until he was 82 cleaning the boots of World Cup winners Bobby Moore, Martin Peters and Geoff Hurst.

Tiller commented: 'This has been an honour and a privilege to research and write. Jack's granddaughters have given me access to their archive and to their memories and precious family stories. Their honesty and integrity with their grandfather's legacy has ensured this is an honest portrait of this remarkable footballer and man. I shared the book with them to make sure I had got all the facts straight, but I was also nervous of what they would think. When they told me they loved it I was relieved and delighted.'

Jack Leslie’s three granddaughters, Lyn, Gill and Lesley have supported the campaign from the very start and it has been hugely positive for them. They said: "When we finished reading the book, we were in tears. It was a very emotional read and I think that's a good thing because it eloquently describes Grandad’s life and the impact he had on all his family, friends and colleagues. To say nothing of the effect we believe the book will have on all who read it."

Matt continued: "The more I've read about Jack, the more I admire him. When he was selected for England he was just hitting his stride and starting to write headlines, but in the years that followed many, and not just Argyle fans, considered him the best inside left in the country who should have represented it on many occasions. That must have been tough, knowing that despite his talent and his undeniable patriotism, he would never get that chance to play for England.

"Jack's years at Argyle were some of their best and unluckiest. The club missed out on promotion by a whisker as runners up six times in the 1920s before they finally topped the Third Division South in 1930. Jack can be considered the most successful Plymouth captain in history and is undoubtedly one of their best ever players.

"And in his time Argyle had one hell of a team with players like Sammy Black, of course, and Jack Hill and Ray Bowden who would become England stars. It was a fascinating, dramatic period, with plenty of funny as well as poignant incidents and I'm sure Argyle fans in particular will enjoy the book."

The Lion Who Never Roared has already received praise from those who have been given a preview, including Viv Anderson MBE. Viv was the first black player to win a full England cap in 1978, 53 years after Jack's selection. He has contributed a foreword and says the book is, "Inspiring and important. An extraordinary life story." 

The comedian Josh Widdicombe who is an ardent Argyle fan says it is, "A beautifully written and fitting tribute for an unfairly overlooked legend." And Debbie Hewitt, Chair of the FA, who presented Jack's granddaughters with a posthumous honorary cap in March this year believes it is, "An evocative and gripping portrait of a remarkable football pioneer." 

To purchase the book click here.

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