Luke Pollard has backed the campaign for a statue of football player Jack Leslie to be built outside Home Park, which is in the constituency Luke represents.
Jack Leslie should have been England’s first black player but when the selectors discovered his heritage, his name would never appear on the team sheet.
Jack was an outstanding player who joined Plymouth Argyle from Barking in 1921 and scored 137 goals in a long and illustrious career which ended in 1934.
Leslie was named in the England national team to face Ireland in 1925 and was told by his manager that he’d been called up. But after this selection, his name mysteriously disappeared from the team sheet, seemingly because FA officials had come to look at him in person and discovered that he was black.
So, not only was Jack an incredible player for his club, but his is also a story of great national and historical significance. It’s also one that sadly still resonates as racist incidents in football and in wider society continue to this day.
Go here to donate to the campaign: https://www.crowdfunder.co.uk/jack-leslie-campaign
Luke Pollard said:
“As a city we have to tell our full story and Jack Leslie has been a chapter of our city’s past that has not been told loud enough. Jack was one of Argyle’s most prolific goal scorers he could have been one of England’s greats too. Racism and discrimination denied him his rightful place in the national side and it is time to right that wrong and give Jack the recognition and appreciated he richly deserves.
“I fully back the statue campaign and encourage the Green Army, the whole of Plymouth and all those who want to tell our full story as a nation to get behind this campaign.
“The lesson I take from the Black Lives Matter movement is that we need to tell our full story, the bits we are proud of and the bits that make us uncomfortable. I can think of no better way of for our city to respond to the injustices the movement has highlighted than Plymouth raising a statue to Jack, signalling that we will tell our full story and give Jack a permanent place at Home Park”