Luke Pollard MP Member of Parliament for Plymouth Sutton and Devonport
I was honoured to attend the unveiling of Jack Leslie’s statue at Home Park today. His story is a part of our city’s history that everyone should know about.
In the 1920s Jack played for Plymouth Argyle. He was a prolific forward, scoring 137 goals in 400 appearances. With such an outstanding record, Jack was called up to play for England, but shamefully, the FA dropped him when they discovered he was black.
Jack should have been England’s first ever black football player, but discrimination denied him. In Plymouth, he’s remembered as not only our fourth highest goalscorer in the club’s history, but he captained our side to promotion and is a true Argyle legend.
Before the pandemic hit, I met Matt and Greg, two Argyle fans with an idea to raise a statue for Jack. I remember their enthusiasm and passion, not only for Jack Leslie, but for our club and our city. I was pleased to support the campaign that saw 2,000 people donate and today the statue was unveiled at Home Park by Jack’s granddaughters.
I want every schoolchild in Plymouth to know Jack Leslie and his story. Not just the act of discrimination, but his excellence on the pitch. We don’t often tell our stories very well as a city, but that is slowly changing.
I want to offer my thanks to Matt, Greg and the entire campaign team. The statue is a reminder of one of Argyle’s greats from the past, but it’s also a signpost to a better future where it’s not about the colour of your skin, but the content of your character that defines how well you get on in life.