Campaign to raise £100,000 for statue of footballer Jack Leslie reaches target
PUBLISHED: 07:00 17 August 2020
A campaign to raise £100,000 to erect a statue of a footballer who should have been the first black player for England has hit its target.
Jack Leslie, who began his career at Barking FC, was called up to represent his country in 1925 - but later denied the chance to play when the selection commitee realised the colour of his skin.
More than 2,000 people have donated to a fundraising campaign aimng to remember the pioneering Canning Town-born footballer with a statue outside the ground where he plied his trade for many years.
He scored 127 goals in 401 appearances for Plymouth Argyle, and was the only black professional footballer in the country for much of his career.
After an eye injury ended his career in 1934, Jack returned to London and would eventually work in the West Ham bootroom, preparing footwear for the likes of Bobby Moore.
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For many years, few people - including the West Ham players he worked alongside - knew of his role in footballing history, but the statue outside Home Park is set to change all that by raising awareness of his story.
Greg Foxsmith, the co-founder of the Jack Leslie Campaign, said: “We are grateful for all who have contributed their money, their gifts and prizes, their artworks and their ideas. Having reached our initial target with such positivity, we are encouraged to go further.
“More money enables us to have a bigger, better statue.
“It also allows us to begin work on our aspirations to tell the Jack Leslie story, and use his story to challenge prejudice and discrimination. We will continue, at least in the short term, to raise money with our stretch target in place to ensure the best possible memorial to Jack.”
Fundraising for the statue will continue, with proposals for its design considered by Jack’s family and fans. The campaign has been backed by the Football Association as well as former West Ham footballers Sir Trevor Brooking and Clyde Best.
Donations can be made at crowdfunder.co.uk/jack-leslie-campaign
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