Jack Leslie: Plymouth Argyle

Jack Leslie: Plymouth Argyle


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John (Jack) Leslie blev født i Canning Town, London, den 17. august 1901. Han spillede for lokalholdet, Barking Town, inden han kom til Plymouth Argyle i 1921.

Leslie var en af ​​de første ikke-hvide spillere, der spillede professionel fodbold. Andre omfattede Arthur Wharton, Walter Tull, Fred Corbett og Hassan Hegazi.

Leslie spillede midt på spidsen, og i løbet af de næste tretten år scorede han 131 mål i 383 kampe. Ved en lejlighed fortalte hans manager, Bob Jack, at han var blevet valgt til at spille for England. Invitationen til at spille for sit land blev imidlertid trukket tilbage. Leslie fortalte journalisten Brian Woolnough: "De må have glemt, at jeg var en farvet dreng."

Leslie trak sig tilbage fra professionel fodbold i 1934. Senere arbejdede han som medlem af baglokalet i sin lokale klub, West Ham United.

Jack Leslie døde i 1988.


DET er et absolut privilegium for os alle på Home Park at navngive bestyrelseslokalet i den nye Mayflower -tribune til ære for den store Jack Leslie.

Jack Leslie var en pioner inden for fodbold og en spiller, der for altid var nedfældet i Argyle -rekordbøgerne, og tilbragte hele sin karriere som pilgrim. Vi leder nu efter at finde medlemmer af hans familie til at hjælpe os med at hylde denne store mand yderligere.

Jack døde for 30 år siden og tilbragte sin pensionering i London og arbejdede i mange år bag kulisserne i West Ham United.

Hvis nogen er bekendt med nogen kontaktoplysninger til Jack & rsquos-familien, vil vi gerne invitere dem til det nye Jack Leslie Boardroom på Home Park for at nyde et førsteholdsspil i komfort i bestyrelseslokalet, der er navngivet til hans ære.

Send venligst alle detaljer til vores kommunikationschef Rick Cowdery den [email protected]

Født af en jamaicansk far i 1901, voksede Leslie op i Canning Town, London. Han underskrev for Argyle fra Barking Town i 1921 og var på det tidspunkt en af ​​kun en håndfuld sorte spillere, der spillede i England i sin tid som pilgrim.

I sine første par sæsoner i Green kæmpede han for at holde en plads i siden. Ankomsten af ​​Sammy Black, kombineret med en ændring af position & ndash fra center-forward til inside-left & ndash oplevede en drastisk forbedring i hans præstationer, og der blev straks dannet en formidabel forbindelse mellem ham og Sammy.

I 1922 begyndte Leslie & rsquos-skærme på venstre side af Argyle-angrebet at hæve øjenbryn, så meget at han var i udkanten af ​​en international international indkaldelse til England. Han forblev konsekvent iøjnefaldende og blev endelig belønnet for sin form, eller det troede han.

Leslie blev informeret af sin Argyle -manager Bob Jack om, at han var blevet valgt til at spille for England, og huskede senere, hvordan han blev & ldquoknocket sidelæns & rdquo da han hørte den gode nyhed.

Imidlertid modtog han efterfølgende kommunikation, der annullerede hans opkald, og da truppen formelt blev annonceret, havde Billy Walker fra Aston Villa taget hans plads. Jack fik aldrig igen chancen for at spille for sit land.

År efter hændelsen, da han var en del af baglokalholdet hos West Ham United & ndash hans lokale hold & ndash Leslie hævdede, at: & ldquoThey [udvælgelseshierarkiet] må have glemt, at jeg var en farvet dreng & rdquo som grunden til, at han blev droppet.

Han sagde: & ldquo Jeg hørte, rundkørsel som, at FA var kommet for at kigge på mig igen. Ikke på mig fodbold, men på mit ansigt. De spurgte, og fandt ud af, at de & rsquod lavede en ricket. Fandt ud af mig far, og det var det.

& ldquoDer var lidt oprør i papirerne. Folk i byen var meget kede af det. Ingen har nogensinde fortalt mig officiel sådan, men det måtte være grunden til, at min mor var engelsk, men mig far var sort som Spades ess. Der var ingen anden grund til at tage min kasket væk. & Rdquo

Leslie skulle have været den første sorte spiller til at spille for England i stedet, England måtte vente mere end 50 år for at se den første sorte fodboldspiller repræsentere deres land & ndash Nottingham Forest & rsquos Viv Anderson mod Tjekkoslovakiet i en venskabskamp på Wembley i 1978.

I de 41 år siden, siden da, har 91 BAME -spillere repræsenteret England.

Simon sagde: & ldquoEn af klubbens værdier er respekt, hvilket betyder, at vi vil gøre vores yderste for at udrydde diskrimination af enhver grund.

"Diskrimination på grund af race er noget, der ligger mit hjerte nær og for min kone & rsquos hjerte og noget, som mine børn har været aktive i at forsøge at bekæmpe.

"Så jeg synes, det er vigtigt, at Argyle som en værdidrevet klub demonstrerer, at vi er forpligtet til at udrydde racisme, og at forpligtelsen starter helt i toppen, og derfor navngiver bestyrelseslokalet og dash, hvor de store beslutninger i Argyle er
taget & ndash efter Jack Leslie. & rdquo

JACK LESLIE

Plymouth Argyle 1921-1934. 401 spil. 137 mål. Pioner


Ingen sorte fodboldspillere for England

Leslie viste sig som en top-målscorer og havde rekorden for flest scorede ligamål (35) mellem 1927 og 1929, men dette var stadig ikke nok for embedsmænd, der mente, at han ikke var egnet til at slutte sig til den anerkendte nationale side.

De fandt ud af, at jeg var mørk, og jeg formoder, at det var som at finde ud af, at jeg var fremmed. ”

Dette knuste Leslie ’s drømme om en international karriere.

Han kommenterede berømt til Pilgrims holdkammerat og senere journalist Brian Woolnough,

De må have glemt, at jeg var en farvet dreng. ”

Jack Leslie trak sig tilbage i 1934, senere gik han på arbejde for sin lokale klub West Ham United som en del af deres baglokale.


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Sir John Hawkins var en engelsk flådeadministrator og kommandør og chefarkitekten for den elisabethanske flåde.

Født i 1532 i Plymouth, var han købmand inden for afrikansk handel, inden han blev den første engelske slavehandler.

Han udløste konflikt med spanierne ved at transportere slaver fra Guinea, Vestafrika, til det spanske Vestindien.

I en rejse blev han tvunget til at søge ly nær Veracruz i Mexico og blev angrebet af en spansk flåde i havnen, men det lykkedes at flygte.

Han underrettede regeringen om et komplot af de engelske romersk katolikker, med hjælp fra Spanien, om at afsætte dronning Elizabeth og sætte Mary Stuart, dronning af skotter, på tronen.

Han overtog efter sin svigerfar som kasserer for flåden i 1577 og spillede en rolle i designet af skibe, der blev brugt til at kæmpe mod den spanske armada i 1588, hvor han var tredjechef.

Hvem var Jack Leslie?

Jack Leslie var den eneste professionelle sorte spiller i England mellem 1921 og 1934, mens han spillede for Plymouth Argyle.

Han indgik et legendarisk partnerskab med udvendig venstre spiller Sammy Black.

Leslie var ved at blive den første ikke-hvide spiller til at repræsentere England, indtil vælgerne fik at vide, at han var sort.

Bob Jack, hans manager, fortalte ham, at han var blevet valgt, men invitationen blev senere fjernet.

Dengang sagde han til en journalist: 'De må have glemt, at jeg var en farvet dreng.'

Født i 1901 i Canning Town, London, spillede han for Barking Town, inden han sluttede sig til Argyle og spillede i center-forward.

Leslie scorede 137 mål for Argyle i 401 kampe - den fjerde alletiders højeste målscorer for klubben.

Han trak sig tilbage fra at spille professionel fodbold i 1934 og blev senere en boot-boy for en klub i hans område, West Ham United, og døde i 1988.


Plymouth square indstilles til at blive omdøbt efter banebrydende sort Argyle -spiller

Et torv i Plymouth opkaldt efter en slavehandler skal omdøbes efter en banebrydende sort fodboldspiller, der spillede for Plymouth Argyle.

Byrådet har foreslået at omdøbe Sir John Hawkins Square til Jack Leslie.

Han var den eneste professionelle sorte spiller i England, da han spillede for klubben mellem 1921 og 1934.

Det menes, at Jack var indstillet til at blive den første sorte spiller til at repræsentere England, men blev nægtet muligheden, da vælgerne blev gjort opmærksom på, at han var & kvotemand af farve & quot.

Det var først i slutningen af ​​1970'erne, at den første sorte spiller optrådte i en England -trøje.

Jack var den eneste professionelle sorte spiller i England, da han spillede for klubben mellem 1921 og 1934, efter at have scoret mere end 137 mål for Argyle i 401 kampe.

Han er stadig Pilgrims ' fjerdehøjeste målscorer nogensinde.

mål scoret af Jack Leslie for Plymouth Argyle

Rådet enedes om at ændre navnet fra den elisabethanske slavehandler Sir John Hawkins, efter at der blev oprettet et andragende for at "hjælpe Plymouth med at blive en by, der står for ligestilling og medfølelse".

Plymouth byrådsleder Tudor Evans siger, at myndigheden har & quotlyttet til dem, der fandt den relativt nylige navngivning af pladsen efter Hawkins stødende og ændrer den. & Quot

Vi har fået en række potentielle nye navne fremført og føler, at at navngive pladsen efter Jack Leslie ville være meget passende i betragtning af hans pionerrolle som sort spiller i engelsk fodbold.

Ifølge rådmand Evans søger autoriteten ikke at omskrive historien, og vi siger ikke, at vi skal glemme Hawkins & quot.

& quotHan var uden tvivl en vigtig figur i vores nationale historie. Vi kan huske og anerkende dette på en måde, der fortæller en fyldigere historie om hans liv og ikke mindes ham på en måde, der giver fornærmelse. & Quot

Han siger, at der vil blive givet en redegørelse for Hawkins liv og gerninger i byens nye kunstcenter.

Rådmand Chris Penberthy, kabinetsmedlem for boliger og kooperativ udvikling og rådmand for St. Peter og Waterfront-afdelingen, siger at navngive pladsen efter Jack Leslie & quot ville være en vidunderlig måde at anerkende den store rolle, han ikke kun har i Plymouths Argyles arv, men også i national fodbold & quot.

Som den eneste sorte professionelle spiller på det tidspunkt var han en pioner. Desværre måtte han også håndtere diskrimination, hvilket betød, at han blev nægtet muligheden for at repræsentere sit land.


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En FAN-DRIVEN-kampagne indsamlede mere end 100.000 pund på bare seks uger for at finansiere bestillingen af ​​en statue uden for Home Park i Plymouth for at ære den første sorte mandlige fodboldspiller, der blev valgt til at spille for England.

I december sidste år kørte Morning Star et stykke, der fejrede livet for den glemte Plymouth Argyle -angriber Jack Leslie, der blev valgt til at starte for det engelske landshold mod Irland i oktober 1925, kun for at få sin plads tilbagekaldt, når FA's internationale udvælgelseskomité indså, at Leslie , søn af en jamaicansk gasmontør, var sort.

Matt Tiller, en musiker, komiker, forfatter og tv -komedieproducent, startede kampagnen for at ære Leslie sammen med kollegaen Plymouth -fan Greg Foxsmith.

Tiller indrømmede, at "da jeg hørte Jacks historie sidste år, skammede jeg mig først over, at jeg ikke kendte dette utrolige stykke fodboldhistorie og derefter flyttede til at skrive en sang, som min lille, men loyale fanbase synes at elske. Det inkluderer den anden Plymouth Argyle -fan Greg Foxsmith, og sammen besluttede vi at fejre denne banebrydende spillers præstationer og skaffe midler til at bygge en statue. ”

Tiller og Foxsmith lancerede en crowdfunder -kampagne den 1. juli, der oprindeligt genererede enorm landsdækkende omtale.

"Vi har begge kørt projekter," forklarede Tiller. ”Greg er en ganske erfaren kampagne og advokat. Mit dagjob? Jeg er tv -producent. Vi vidste ikke rigtigt, hvad vi lavede, før vi startede, men vi har bare løbet med det. ”

Parlamentsmedlemmer som Jeremy Corbyn, Caroline Lucas og Emily Thornberry har støttet duoens indsamlingsindsats på deres sociale mediekonti samt berømtheder som Arabella Weir, Josh Widdicombe og Gary Lineker.

Donerede kunstværker og signerede skjorter er blevet auktioneret, og Tiller, der har vundet kritisk anerkendelse ved Edinburgh Fringe Festival, udgav endda en enkelt "The Ballad of Jack Leslie", en moderne folkesang, der fortæller historien om Leslies karriere, for at hjælpe med at hæve midler.

"Det har været en kumulativ indsats," sagde han, "med flere og flere mennesker om bord. Berømtheder med store Twitter -følgere hjalp massivt, du ser det på donationerne.

"I starten var støtten fra Plymouth Argyle temmelig afgørende, det galvaniserede virkelig den" grønne hær "og alle organisationer omkring det - fansens tillid og internetfora. Mange organisationer kom sammen for at skaffe penge eller donere store beløb. Finansieringen fra Plymouth Council var også temmelig massiv.

”Det, der virkelig har været påfaldende med den nationale dækning, er, at historien har givet genlyd ud over Plymouth, hvilket er fantastisk. Vi har haft støtte fra folk, der ikke er fodboldfans, folk fra forskellige klubber, ikke kun dem, han var forbundet med, men også fra længere væk. Det er genialt at se det.

”En af de store ting med kampagnen er at se minderne om Jack, der kommer igennem. Du ser beskeder på crowdfunder som: 'Jeg sender dette på vegne af min bedstefar i 90'erne, der husker Jack som en god spiller.'

”Præsidenten for Barking FC skrev en besked på de sociale medier, der sagde:” Min afdøde far fortalte mig, at Jack var den største spiller, han nogensinde har set spille for Barking i sine 60 år plus at se Blues. ’Positiviteten har været fantastisk . ”

Kampagnen har også støttet FA, men de stoppede med at undskylde for at nægte at spille Leslie i 1925.

FA -formand Greg Dyke sagde: “Historier som denne er utroligt triste. Diskrimination i spillet, i enhver form eller fra en hvilken som helst periode, er uacceptabel.

”Vi skal altid huske pionerer som Jack Leslie og være taknemmelige for, at fodbold er et helt andet sted i dag. Vi er meget glade for at støtte denne kampagne, som forhåbentlig vil sikre, at Jacks karriere bliver anerkendt korrekt. ”

Før han døde i 1988, endte Leslie med at arbejde på Upton Park i 15 år og rengjorde støvlerne fra West Ham United -spillere, der var uvidende om hans tidligere målscorer.

Som støtte til kampagnen sagde Sir Trevor Brooking: ”Det utrolige var, at ingen af ​​os - mig, Geoff Hurst eller Bobby Moore inkluderet - vidste, at han var en spiller! Jack nævnte det aldrig, så ydmyg var han.

”Jeg blev overrasket, da jeg læste om kampagnen og hørte om Jacks historie i spillet. Jeg ville bare ønske, at han på det tidspunkt havde fortalt os det, men det var Jack, og jeg er kun alt for glad for at støtte kampagnen om, at en statue skulle opføres på Home Park til hans ære. ”

Den tidligere fodboldspiller Clyde Best, der spillede for West Ham i syv sæsoner fra 1969, var også uvidende om, at Leslie havde spillet professionelt og havde lidt de samme fordomme, han havde at gøre med, men over 45 år tidligere.

”Vi ville kalde ham onkel Jack og gå og hente vores støvler fra ham, når vi havde udebaneture eller hentede ham ind efter en hjemmekamp, ​​og han ville passe alt for os.

”På det tidspunkt, jeg spillede, var det hårdt, men at finde ud af, hvad Jack skulle igennem, er jeg sikker på, at det var meget sværere. Han ville have været alene, ligesom jeg var alene, og det gør dig til et andet individ, når du skal se det i øjnene. Jeg er bare glad for, at folk er gået sammen om at få noget, han virkelig fortjener, en statue. ”

Bronzestatuen af ​​Jack Leslie vil sandsynligvis stå tæt på Mayflower -tribunen i Home Park. Tiller, der planlægger at bruge overskydende midler fra crowdfunder til at finansiere uddannelsesarbejde omkring projektet, håber "der kommer mere ud over kampagnen."

Leslies barnebarn Lyn Davies sagde: “Vi er glade for, at Jacks historie endelig får den opmærksomhed, den fortjener, og Mats sang om bedstefar er vidunderlig. Det fik mig i tårer til at tænke på ham, den uretfærdighed, der skete, men også hvordan han fortsatte med sådan nåde og ydmyghed. ”


Jack Leslie -kampagne: “Tid for tilhængere at kende hans navn ”

Mens debatter raser rundt om statuen af ​​nationen og#8217, kæmper Plymouth Argyle -fans om at få en af ​​deres største spillere hædret. Her fortæller Matt Tiller os om Jack Leslie -kampagnen, en bevægelse for at få en banebrydende sort spiller genkendt på Home Park …

At lære Jack Leslies historie først sidste år var et chok for systemet. Hvorfor vidste jeg det ikke? Som en ung Plymouth Argyle -fan i firserne var jeg kun interesseret i Tommy Tynan og FA Cup -heltene fra 1984 – til en tredjedivisionsside, vi lavede semierne, hvor vi tabte til Watford.

Klubbens fjerne fortid kom mig bare ikke i tankerne. Det er hele vores ansvar at anerkende fortidens fejl og mangler for at hjælpe os med at løse nutidens problem.

Fra at undlade at kontekstualisere fortidsfigurer, der mindes i bronze til hændelser af racisme i professionel sport nu, er dette ikke en tid til at klappe os selv på skulderen for, hvor langt vi er nået. Racisme er her stadig. Bare spørg Ian Wright. Spørg bare enhver farveperson inden for eller uden for fodboldverdenen. Bare se nyhederne.

Men hvilken historie Jacks er, og hvilken spiller der er værd at huske og fejre. Hans Argyle -hold turnerede i Sydamerika i 1924 og slog Argentina og Uruguay. Jack hjalp dem med at vinde forfremmelse i 1930 – kaptajn for holdet i hans sidste år.

Hans ry som målscorer og skaber spredte sig vidt og bredt, hvilket førte til, at England kaldte op. Selvfølgelig vil vi i kampagnen ikke kun have den historiske forkerte rettet, men også at folk skal forstå historiens relevans for spørgsmål i dag. Fordi det kun er gennem uddannelse og empati, at vi kan udrydde en fordomme, der bittert klæber fast.

Jack Leslie portræt © Creative Commons, Wikipedia

I 1925 var jeg sikker på, at det ikke var nogen overraskelse for Jack, at han aldrig vandt den engelske cap. Da Viv Anderson endelig blev valgt i 1978, blev Jack interviewet om sin historie og sagde, at han følte, at det bare var en af ​​disse ting. Med hans ord: "De fandt ud af, at jeg var en mørke, og jeg formoder, at det var som at finde ud af, at jeg var fremmed."

Så hvordan ved vi, at Leslie skulle have været Englands første sorte fodboldspiller? Der er Jacks eget vidnesbyrd om at blive kaldt ind på sin managerkontor for at få at vide, at han var blevet valgt til England i kampen mod Irland, og hvordan nyheden var snakken om Plymouth. Jeg kan ikke se nogen grund til ikke at tro ham.

Og der er arkivbevis for det udvalg, der senere blev ophævet. En presseartikel i Nottingham Journal den 6. oktober 1925 navngiver Leslie i det englandshold. Og om sit mystiske fravalg skrev en lokal reporter: ”Desværre er min pen underlagt et forbud i denne sag: men jeg kan sige, at der er begået en fejl i London og sendt til mig. Anyway, Leslie spillede på det tidspunkt ganske godt nok til at blive valgt. ”

Hvordan og hvorfor dette 'slip up' af FA opstod, er stadig et mysterium, og jeg ville elske at vide mere om.

Det virker utænkeligt, at udvælgelseskomiteen ikke ville have vidst, at han var sort, da han havde spillet professionelt i flere år, og hans udseende ofte blev bemærket. Så der må have været en eller flere FA -vælgere, der besluttede at sætte Jack i holdet. Hvorfor skulle nyhederne ellers have rejst og været offentliggjort?

Så det er rigtigt, at nogen eller flere end en person greb ind for at nægte Jack Leslie sin kasket. I 1933 sagde en national avis: "Havde han været hvid, havde han været en bestemt engelsk international."

Jack Leslie var i det mindste en helt i Plymouth som en hjørnesten i holdet i mere end et årti. Hans familie fortæller om, hvor godt han var elsket i byen, og at han modtog en stående applaus, da han vendte tilbage til et besøg i tresserne.

Disse jublende tilhængere vil altid være livsnødder for enhver klub. Det er fansene, der samler sig rundt i deres klubber i denne krisetid, der gør deres bedste for at hjælpe dem med at overleve. Og mens nogle fans naturligvis har gjort sig skyldige i racistiske hændelser-abesangene og banankastet, der gjorde 70'erne og firsernes terrasser til skamme-er den antiracistiske bevægelse som reaktion kommet fra bunden, fra spillere og fans til blive omfavnet af klubber.

Og derfor er støtten fra fodboldsupporterforeningen så velkommen af ​​Jack Leslie -kampagnen, da vi søger at fortælle historien og fortsætte kampen mod denne plage på sporten og samfundet.

Jacks præstationer markerer ham som en figur fra historien, som byen Plymouth burde genkende og fejre. Men den engelske ære, grusomt benægtet, markerer ham som en figur af national betydning.

Jack Leslies første kasket ville være kommet, da han modnede som spiller, og hvis det var blevet givet, kunne han have set ham blive fast inventar på landsholdet i de kommende år.

Det er tid for tilhængere overalt at kende hans navn og at der skal bygges en statue, der fortjener sin plads.

Jack Leslie – 137 mål i 401 kampe for Plymouth Argyle (1921-1934). Udvalgt til England (1925) optrædener ... ingen.


Fodboldens pionerer: Jack Leslie

Født i 1901 af en jamaicansk far i Canning Town, havde Jack Leslie spillet for den lokale klub Barking Town, inden han sluttede sig til Plymouth Argyle i 1921.

Han spillede 14 sæsoner på Home Park, hvilket gjorde 401 optrædener. Han var en produktiv målscorer og noterede 137 mål, heraf 22 under kampagnen 1928/29.

I 1931/32 gik klubben snævert glip af oprykning til First Division. Han var både en skaber og en målscorer og udviklede et berømt partnerskab med den skotske venstrefløj Sammy Black.

Leslie var en nøglefigur i Plymouth -holdet i godt et årti. Som holdkaptajn i begyndelsen af ​​1930'erne fungerede han som talsmand og repræsentant for spillerne ved klubbegivenheder og i forhandlinger med direktørerne. Da klubben eksperimenterede med flyrejser til lange afstande, var det Leslie som kaptajn, der først blev inviteret til at flyve.

Han blev beskrevet som 'en inspirerende kaptajn'. En lokal avis huskede ham som 'en taktiker af fremragende kvalitet' og 'en af ​​de fineste spillere, der nogensinde havde en Argyle -trøje på'.

For fodboldkorrespondenten for The People var han 'en af ​​de største planmænd i engelsk fodbold'.

I 1931 spekulerede lederen af ​​en rivaliserende anden divisionsklub på, hvorfor England -vælgerne ikke havde 'kørt reglen over Leslie'.

Det havde de faktisk allerede. Selvom det præcise år stadig er uklart, huskede Leslie senere, at han blev kaldt til Plymouth -managerkontoret for at få at vide, at han var blevet valgt til England.

Men beslutningen blev aldrig offentliggjort, og han blev erstattet af Aston Villas Billy Walker. Plaget af en række skader kom Leslie på pension i 1935.

Efter et par år i Truro som driver en pub, var han tilbage i fodbold som træner for sin gamle klub Barking Town i 1938.

Da journalisten Brian Woolnough indhentede ham i sæsonen 1982/83, arbejdede Leslie i bagagerummet i West Ham.

Han døde i 1988 og har en tendens til at blive husket nu som manden, der næsten næsten blev den første sorte spiller, der optrådte i en trøje i England.

I flere sæsoner har Leicester City Football Club arbejdet med De Montfort Universitys internationale center for sportshistorie og kultur på forskellige kulturarvsprojekter. I denne sæson vil medarbejdere og studerende på centret vise de spillere, der var pionerer, der bidrog til vækst og udvikling af spillet.

For mere information om sportshistorie på DMU, ​​klik HER.


Jack Leslie: Plymouth Argyle - Historie

Jack Vidler, topscorer i 1934-35 og over 100 mål i sine 10 år på Home Park

Plymouth Argyle var blevet en etableret anden række ved sæsonen 1934-35, og selvom programlisten indeholdt navne som Manchester United, Newcastle og West Ham, var klubben og fansene optimistiske med hensyn til den kommende kampagne. Der var fortsat tro på truppen og stor tro på Bob Jack, der erklærede sig tilfreds med de eksisterende spillere - især hvis de kunne holde sig fri for skader. Den største bekymring var for den store Jack Leslie, som havde savnet det meste af den foregående sæson, efter at kniplinger af en bold havde forårsaget en alvorlig øjenskade. Målmand George McKenzie fra Skotland var den eneste signifikante nye signering, selvom Harry Cann forblev førstevalg, med Bill Harper også i reserve. Højre- og halvbackerne forblev de samme, og angriberne ville igen stole på Jimmy Cookson for at score deres mål.

Kun en af ​​de første ti kampe blev vundet, en 6-4 sejr over Hull City i sæsonens første hjemmekamp, ​​som omfattede et hattrick for Jack Vidler. Denne dårlige tidlige form blev forværret af en knæskade på Cookson, den foregående sæsons topscorer, hvilket resulterede i en operation for at fjerne brusk og et fravær fra førsteholdet i over et år. Siden ramte imidlertid god form, der faldt sammen med ankomsten af ​​en ny midterhalvdel, Johnny McNeil, fra skotsk juniorfodbold, og de vandt ti af deres næste femten kampe og trak yderligere tre. Ikke utypisk tabte pilgrimme derefter fire kampe i træk, inden de vandt otte af deres sidste tretten. I sidste ende afsluttede Argyle sæsonen på en kreditværdig ottendeplads, hvor Vidler steg til muligheden for Cooksons langvarige skade for at slutte som topscorer med 21 mål.

Den legendariske Jack Leslie [se også 'Tyvernes stjerner' i kapitel 13]

Elleve spillere forlod i slutningen af ​​sæsonen. Blandt dem forlod Jack Pullen klubben på grund af en skade, og George McKenzie og Jack Demellweek tog til Southend for at slutte sig til Robert Jacks berømte søn, David - men langt den mest bemærkelsesværdige afgang var den uheldige Jack Leslie. På trods af store forhåbninger i starten af ​​kampagnen forhindrede Leslies øjenskade ham i at spille indtil slutningen af ​​december, og det viste sig at være hans eneste optræden i sæsonen. Det var en lang, langvarig og meget trist afslutning på hans storslåede karriere med Argyle, og ved slutningen af ​​sæsonen fik han en gratis transfer. Jack Leslie var en af ​​de mest populære spillere nogensinde, der havde Argyle -trøjen på, og hans spillerekord i 14 sæsoner i klubben taler for sig selv - fjerde på alle tiders scoringsliste med 137 mål i 401 kampe. Men det var hans venstreflanke-partnerskab med Sammy Black, der måske var den mest bemærkelsesværdige præstation af alle. Parret spillede sammen forbløffende 327 gange, et partnerskab, der siges at være det bedste i hele Football League. Senere samme år viste Leslie sig som en center-half for Truro City i Plymouth & District League, og blev senere udlejer af en Truro-pub.

Direktørerne rapporterede igen et handelstab, men reducerede til 1.650. Dårligt vejr var en vigtig faktor for reduceret omsætning ved porten - faldt med 1.321. Sæsonbilletsalget var nede ligesom reserveholdets porte. Som svar var der skåret i den samlede lønregning og mindre besparelser på rejse- og hotelregninger. Det blev oplyst, at klubben havde en samlet gæld på 6.000, og i slutningen af ​​sæsonen blev Bob Jack tvunget til at informere spillerne om, at direktørerne kæmpede for at finde pengene til at betale deres løn.

Den 2. april 1935 blev dødsfaldet annonceret for John Dawson Spooner i hans hjem i Yelverton i en alder af 68. Samt et aktivt medlem af amatørklubben i 1890'erne hjalp John Dawson, en ungkarl, sine brødre med at danne professionel klub i 1903 og tjente i bestyrelsen for Plymouth Argyles første tre sæsoner. Da anpartsselskabet blev reformeret i 1910, blev JD endnu en gang direktør, en rolle, som han opfyldte i 25 år indtil hans død, selvom dårligt helbred havde forhindret ham i at deltage i bestyrelsesmøder i sine sidste måneder. Mens hans bror Clarence siges at være arkitekten for den professionelle klub, spillede ingen en større rolle i dens udvikling i løbet af de følgende 30 år end John Dawson Spooner.

Dramatiske overskrifter i Western Morning News.

Fire uger senere og fire dage før sæsonens sidste kamp (hjemme for Manchester United) holdt de resterende direktører et møde på Home Park med en gruppe kendte lokale forretningsmænd. Efter næsten fire timers overvejelse blev det aftalt, at den nuværende bestyrelse på syv ville stå ned og blive erstattet af en ny bestyrelse på femten, det maksimalt tilladte i henhold til selskabets vedtægter. E. Elliot Square, en fremtrædende advokat i byen, havde været Argyles formand i 16 sæsoner og styret klubben fra en sæson i Southern League efter første verdenskrig til en veletableret Football League-klub, som nu var tæt på den første division. Næstformand Alfred Gard, der havde fungeret som direktør i 25 år, stod også tilbage, ligesom Hubert Papps, en direktør siden krigen, men de fire andre blev valgt til den nye bestyrelse.

Oberstløjtnant T.R. McCready blev valgt som Plymouth Argyles nye formand. Born in Plymouth in 1883, Thomas Robert McCready served in the Machine Gun Corp in the First World War, rising to the rank of Lieutenant Colonel, and was mentioned in dispatches in April 1918 for his "distinguished and gallant services and devotion to duty". After the war he practised as a solicitor in Plymouth (although the 1911 census describes him as an accountant), and incidentally, one of his long-standing clients was the club's president, 'Archie' Ballard. Clarence Spooner stepped in as the new vice-chairman, some 30 years after his last time in the boardroom, so maintaining the Spooner name on the board.

After the landmark meeting, the newly-elected chairman explained that the burden of the club's long-term debt was in the region of 9,000, and with no means to provide summer wages or increase the playing strength, the old board had either to transfer some of their best players or reorganise the board to provide increased capital.

The eleven new directors were all local sportsmen who also represented a wide range of business activity, and amongst them was James Clifford Tozer, the son of the founder of Messrs J.C. Tozer Ltd, the well-known Plymouth drapers and furnishers. In 1912, at just 23 years old, Clifford Tozer had been elected as a member of Devonport Borough Council, and in 1921 he became a Plymouth Borough councillor. He was appointed a Justice of the Peace in 1929 and became Mayor of Plymouth for 1930-31. In 1937, two years after his elevation to the Argyle boardroom, he was selected to become an Alderman of the City of Plymouth. A year later he became Argyle's vice-chairman, followed six months on by his election as chairman, and in 1939 he was knighted by King George VI for his public and political services in Plymouth.

When football resumed after the Second World War, Alderman Sir J. Clifford Tozer JP continued as Argyle's chairman, and after Clarence Spooner's death in 1952, he became Argyle's president, a role he fulfilled for 16 years. He was also chairman of Plymouth's Reconstruction Committee and in 1952 was honoured with the Freedom of the City of Plymouth. Two years later he served as the city's Lord Mayor.

James Clifford Tozer died in 1970, the end of a life of outstanding public service, but also the end of 35 years of devotion to his football club, which began on that day in April 1935.

The reconstituted board's urgent priority was to increase the football company's capital. At the annual shareholders' meeting on 28th June 1935, a resolution was unanimously adopted that the capital of the company be increased from 4,000 to 15,000 by the creation of 44,000 new Ordinary shares of five shillings each. A fortnight later a mass meeting was held in the Guildhall to launch the campaign. The board's slogan 'First Division Football for Plymouth' had fired the public's imagination, and the Guildhall, which had been decorated for the occasion in green and black by Messrs Dingle & Co, was packed to capacity and speeches had to be relayed to an estimated 1,000 in the square outside.

The Arsenal manager, Mr George Allison, was a guest speaker at the Guildhall.

Before the meeting opened there was a programme of community singing, led by Mr Harry Grose and assisted by the band of the Devon & Cornwall Heavy Brigade. Thomas McCready began a series of speeches, explaining that the purpose of the meeting was to direct the club's appeal to the citizens of Plymouth in general and to the business community in particular, and also to the body of supporters in Devon and Cornwall. After listing the broad intentions of the share sale, the chairman said it was the considered opinion of the directors that the additional share capital was absolutely necessary to place the company in a sound financial position and to secure First Division football for Plymouth. He explained that the company was incorporated in 1920 with a share capital of 1,000, which was considered to be sufficient for the Southern League team. A few years later the capital was increased to 4,000, but he had been unable to trace any serious attempt to actually raise it. When he took over as chairman of the board, the subscribed share capital amounted to only 2,016.

Mr McCready went on to explain why, in his view, the club had found it difficult to make ends meet. When Argyle secured promotion to the Second Division in 1930, a spirit of optimism prevailed and that was the opportunity to obtain more capital, but "a glorious opportunity was lost". The directors at the time considered that an immediate and large expenditure was required to cope with Second Division football, and they incurred liabilities of up to 12,000 in building the necessary new Home Park stands. His point was that the stands were essential, but the money for them should have come out of capital and not out of revenue. Whilst the directors judged that the revenue from bigger attendances would be sufficient to provide for that heavy capital charge, the result was there was very little money left for anything else. With the burden of bank charges and the decrease in gates because of the economic climate and especially bad weather that season, the directors found themselves in the position that they could no longer find the money to support a team worthy of a Second Division football club. In April they were in great difficulty. There was no hope of any revenue until the following season, and they had to face a large debt to local tradesmen, the payment of summer wages and the need to strengthen weak spots in the team, in addition to the "horrible bugbear" of the bank overdraft. The football club's only realisable assets were the transfer values of its players, and transfer was the only alternative at that time. "This was suicide it was murder," Mr McCready declared. "If the transfers had been accomplished it would have set back Plymouth Argyle for so many years that it would be extremely doubtful if it had any chance of recovery."

The scenes of enthusiasm that marked the reception of speeches were eclipsed only by the remarkable manner in which the invitation to take up new shares was accepted. A representative from Messrs Dilleigh & Co rose from the body of the hall and offered to take up 100 worth of shares. He was immediately followed by a Spooners' representative, who pledged to purchase 150 worth. This was the signal for a succession of similar actions from the floor, which continued for half an hour, and approximately 6,000 shares, representing a value of 1,500, were taken before the meeting closed.

Three months later the chairman described the response to the share appeal as "wretchedly disappointing". 260 applications had been received for 8,817 shares to the total value of 2,204 5s. Mr McCready added: "It was anticipated that many of the business firms in Plymouth would have supported the club's appeal more generously. Only a few firms have come up to expectation." The Western Morning News commented that the business community of Plymouth, by their lack of response, did not appreciate the value of the Argyle club to the trade of Plymouth, and reported that some firms that had refused had benefited considerably from the activities of the club.

Whilst we think of Robert Jack as Argyle's manager, his actual title was secretary-manager, reflecting his enormous appetite for work and his wide range of administrative activities over and above the management of the team. The new directors, clear in their ambition for First Division football, set about a review of the backroom staff - many of whom were of 'advancing' years - and one of their first actions was to appoint A.H. Cole as assistant-secretary, effectively an understudy for the administration aspects of the manager's work. Bob Cole, a civil servant, had been Propaganda Secretary of the Supporters' Club (what we might think of as advertising/marketing in today's terms) and was one of its founder-members. Other changes followed, including the departure of Tommy Haynes, the former Argyle FC player who retired after 25 years as chief trainer. Bill Harper was appointed in his place. New players included Bill Gooney, a wing half from Sheffield United and once captain of England Schoolboys, and Jackie Smith from Barnsley, who was a talented player despite his lack of inches. Arthur Eggleston arrived from Bury to add punch to the forward line.

Argyle at Port Vale in September 1935.

Back row: Septimus Atterbury (trainer), Bill Gooney, Harry Roberts, Arthur Davies, Jimmy Rae, Tommy Black, Tommy Grozier.

Front row: David Robbie, Jackie Smith, Jack Vidler, Robert Jack (manager), Arthur Eggleston, Len Rich, Johnny McNeil.

Argyle beat West Ham 4-1 at Home Park in October 1935. The Pilgrims dominated the game and Cookson scored with an early goal. West Ham's possession was mainly limited to belting long balls upfield. However, they equalised and, with five minutes to go, looked like securing a draw. Cookson scored again and Black and Vidler put away two more goals in the last two minutes. In the following January Argyle played Chelsea away in the Cup. The game coincided with the mourning of the death of King George V. Both teams wore black arm bands and there was a two-minute silence before the kick-off and the singing of "Abide With Me" by the crowd of 53,703. Two thousand fans made the journey from Plymouth and saw an excellent display of football from the visitors. However, this was not reflected in the score. Chelsea went 3-0 ahead despite playing much less attractive football, especially during the first half. Harry Cann received an injury but Argyle still managed to 'draw' the second half 1-1. Vidler scored 12 minutes from the end and Sammy Black missed a penalty.

The Pilgrims finished the 1935-36 season in 7th place, one position and two points better than the previous year. Sammy Black was again top scorer with 16 goals four ahead of Eggleston and twice as many as Vidler. Gate receipts were up, as was the revenue from season tickets. The directors continued to complain about the iniquitously high level of entertainment Tax nearly 3,500. There was still an overall loss because of the relatively high net cost of transfers but Archie Ballard again stepped in with generous donations.

The main entrance plate, still in place today.

Over 21,000 saw Argyle beat Doncaster Rovers 7-0 in their first home game of the 1936-37 season, including a hat-trick for Jackie Smith. Perhaps just as impressive was their first sight of the club's brand-new main entrance, which had been erected over the summer months. The impressive facade, which contained 17 turnstiles, three pairs of exits gates and a ticket box, was approved by the Plymouth Corporation in the February and was expected to cost 300. PAFC's president, Mr A.C. Ballard, pledged 100 and the Supporters' Club, of whom he was also president, agreed to fund the rest on condition that a plate be erected to recognise their contribution. At their annual meeting in September, the cost was reported to have been twice the expectation, but to honour the words of the plate, the Supporters' Club committee agreed to meet the balance of the cost as and when funds permitted.

Above: Home Park's iconic main entrance, built in 1936 and pictured here in the early 1950s.

Below: The main entrance in 2013, shortly before its planned demolition. There seems to be substantial change, but most is superficial. However, note the absence of brickwork above the exit gates - this was removed in 2005, presumably for safety reasons, at a time when repair could not be justified because Phase 2 (the new south side) was 'imminent'.

A section of the massive crowd for the game with Aston Villa. In the background is the Ballard extension of the grandstand, which hit the headlines a few months later.

Argyle's emphatic win in their first home game of the season was their only victory in their first six fixtures, but eleven games then followed without a defeat. Argyle's often-stated record attendance occurred on 10th October 1936 when they drew 2-2 with Aston Villa in front of a recorded gate of 43,596 ('often-stated' but unfortunately unclear - doubts remain about the attendance for the FA Cup game against Huddersfield three seasons before - see the final paragraphs of chapter 14 for a detailed analysis of the evidence). Trains arrived throughout the morning from all over Devon and Cornwall, and even Somerset. The match was preceded by community singing to a song sheet reminiscent of a Wembley Cup Final. The Argyle goals were scored by Sammy Black and Jack Connor. Also in that side was Tommy Black - no relation of Sammy - who had played just one game for Arsenal when he turned out in an FA Cup tie and conceded the penalty which led to Arsenal's defeat, whereupon he was told he would never play for the club again! He went on to play 162 matches for Argyle before he left for Southend in 1939. The draw with Villa was a creditable result since Argyle played for three quarters of the game with ten men and Roberts hobbling on the left wing. The Villa side were full of internationals but were not bonding as a side or playing with expected enthusiasm. In the final half-hour Argyle hit the post and bar and two goal-bound shots were saved by Biddlestone but Villa held out.

On the left, queues for the Villa game at the new main entrance. On the right, fans moved some of the old turnstiles from the back of the stand to get a better view. You can't but feel for that poor lad!

In February 1937, Argyle played the corresponding away game at Villa Park. It was an extraordinary game, with Argyle losing 5-4 in front of 50,000 spectators, 3,000 of whom were from Plymouth. Argyle led 3-0 after half an hour but Villa came back to draw level three minutes after half-time. Argyle once again went ahead with a 25 yard goal from Hunter following a dribble by Vidler. From then on the Argyle defence took a battering. Villa equalised but Argyle held out until the 87th minute Rae was hesitant in the tackle, Haycock centred and Houghton crouched on his knee to head in at the near upright. Incidentally, nine years later Villa's Haycock played one game for Argyle as a war-time guest in the transitional Football League South season.

Jack Connor, who was was brought in from Airdrieonians as the new centre-forward at the start of the season, ended as top scorer with 17 of the team's 73 goals. The Pilgrims finished in 5th place, their fourth consecutive improvement, and if it had not have been for Newcastle's slightly better goal average, would have equalled the best-ever position of 1931-32. What's more, with just one win in their final seven games and a finish that was only six points off a promotion place, we can only wonder what might have been.

1937-38 proved to be an extraordinary season in the history of the club. On the pitch, Bob Jack's philosophy was simple he believed that Scottish junior football was the best breeding ground for football talent and much of his recruitment was from north of the border and Plymouth was always an attraction because it offered employment in the dockyard to players after their career in football was over. At the start of the season he considered that Argyle had as good a chance as any of promotion, and he must have been encouraged by the first game, a 4-0 win over Fulham in front of nearly 25,000 at Home Park. But by October, Argyle were doing badly and a local paper attributed much of the problem to the lack of a goal-scoring centre-forward: "In four games Argyle have experimented with four centre-forwards yet they are no nearer a solution to their problem." By the end of the year the Pilgrims had won just four games out of 22, and in the new year lost to Division Three (North) side New Brighton in the FA Cup.

By mid-January they were tipped, along with Swansea Town, as candidates for relegation a prediction denied vehemently by the manager: "I am not permitted to broadcast any forecast as to what two clubs will eventually be doomed to relegation but, if I were, Argyle would not be one of them". Things improved when Charlie Fletcher, transferred from Burnley earlier in the season, was switched to centre-forward and began to score goals starting with two against his old club. Thankfully Argyle's fortunes revived and they finished the 1937-38 season just below midway in the table, having won six and drawn three of their final ten games. Bill Hullett, signed from Everton earlier in the season, finished as top scorer with ten goals in only eleven starts, including a hat-trick against Southampton in the final match of the season, all with his head.

Bill Hullett scoring the first of his hat-trick in the last game of the season at home to Southampton.

But despite many months of worry, the main drama of the season came off the pitch. In the November, Mr McCready surprisingly resigned as chairman and Clarence Spooner took his place, with Clifford Tozer as vice-chairman. However, Mr Spooner, one of the founders of Plymouth Argyle, made it clear that he would only accept the position temporarily, and six months later Alderman Tozer stepped up and Mr Spooner took his place as vice-chairman. Then, in the final months of the season, came three events that shook the club to the core.

Employing nearly a half a mile of hoses, the Fire Brigade fights the blaze in the grandstand extension.

Just after 10pm on Wednesday, 9th March 1938, Mr J. Horton, Argyle's groundsman, heard a tremendous crackling and at first thought the buses at the Milehouse depot were making a great deal of noise. He ran out of his house, saw the glare over Home Park and rushed to summon the fire brigade. From his house in Peverell Park Road, manager Bob Jack also saw the glare, and later said he thought the whole place was ablaze.

That afternoon at Home Park, Argyle had played out a 2-2 draw with Tottenham Hotspur in front of nearly 16,000 spectators. At 8pm the groundsman had made his final inspection and found everything in order, but in the following two hours, the extension to the main stand, funded by Archie Ballard in 1931, caught fire. The so-called Ballard extension was at the west end of the grandstand, its roof extending in line with the main structure, and was built as a standing terrace for 3,000 spectators. When the fire brigade arrived, they faced searing heat. Most of the wooden flooring was ablaze and the galvanised roof and sides of the stand became white hot so that as hoses were played on the structure, dense clouds of steam enveloped the fire fighters. Sparks and a glare were reported as far afield as Crownhill and Mannamead, and a crowd assembled to watch the drama. Most of the wooden terraces were destroyed, as was the refreshment area beneath, but the firemen were able to contain the blaze so that the main grandstand was saved. A cigarette end was believed to be the cause, with a strong wind blowing into that corner being the trigger for smouldering timber to burst into flames.

ROBERT JACK'S REIGN COMES TO AN END

Just 24 hours after the grandstand fire - quite remarkable timing in itself - came more shocking news Robert Jack announced that he would be severing his connection with the club at the end of the season. The papers said that he resigned, but the reason was never made clear, and for a man who had delivered nearly three decades of success with Argyle and who without doubt loved the club, it was particularly odd because he emphasised that he was not retiring from the game and expected remain in football for many years to come. 'Tamar' in the Western Morning News said: "I do not know what has led Mr Jack to tender his resignation - that is the secret of those very closely connected with the club." Some felt that he had been somewhat ungraciously pushed aside by the directors and was, not unsurprisingly, disenchanted by the decision, but his public position was one of loyalty. "There are no differences between the directors and myself", he said. "Supported by the determined endeavour of the players and everyone concerned, I feel confident that the club which I have loved and for which I have worked for so many years will emerge safely from the danger of relegation, irrespective of the bad luck which has adversely affected many matches. If I felt otherwise any thought of parting would not have entered my mind."

Robert Jack in the late 1930s

Reacting to the news, Argyle's chairman, Clarence Spooner, said: "It is with sincere regret that I learn of Mr Jack's impending resignation. We have been together as football enthusiasts for many years, and I shall always look back with happy recollections on Mr Jack's association with Plymouth Argyle."

Vice-chairman J. Clifford Tozer heaped praise on the outgoing manager: "Mr Robert Jack's resignation will most certainly cause considerable surprise among many thousands of followers of Association football, not only in the West, but in all parts of England and Scotland. There can be few men better known in the football world than Robert Jack. For over 30 years he has been closely associated with the Plymouth Argyle club, and his severance at the end of the season will be regretted. In no small measure the success of the club in the past has been due to his personal interest, activities and judgement. Always of genial disposition, he will be missed by the directors of the club. Personally I have always considered Robert Jack as a real friend. I shall miss him, and this feeling, I know, is shared by many."

A testimonial was arranged for Bob Jack on May 4th. Initially this was to be against an international eleven but was eventually against Brentford, then of the First Division. The night before, Mr and Mrs Jack were the principal guests at the Supporters' Club annual dinner and dance and as a final parting, some 350 attendees joined hands in the singing of 'Auld Lang Syne'. Bob Jack and his wife were said to be greatly affected.

Whatever the reason for his departure and despite his intention to stay in football, Jack had little involvement with the game after leaving Home Park, apart from some scouting for his son David, by then the manager of Southend United. He also wrote a regular article for the Football Herald, but his main love, post-'retirement', was bowls. He had in fact been a keen player for many years, and as a member of the Sir Francis Drake Bowling Club in Mannamead, had helped to put the region on the map by playing regularly for the English International Bowls team and also winning the English Singles Championship in 1926.

Robert Jack, probably the greatest name in the club's history, before or since, died on 6th May 1943 at the age of 67. With him to the end was his old friend and playing partner at Bolton, and at Argyle in the professional club's early days, Jock Wright. The family mourners at Ilford Crematorium in London included his widow and three sons - David, Rollo and Donald. Two days later, in the early hours of the morning, Rollo Jack, who in those war-time years was the club's acting secretary-manager, scattered his father's ashes over the Home Park pitch. There could have been no more fitting end.

Thanks to his great-grandson in Australia, a rare photo of Robert Jack and his three sons, (left to right) Donald, David and Rollo, taken circa 1920.

SAMMY BLACK'S 14TH AND FINAL SEASON

Sammy Black, the greatest of them all.

After 14 seasons in green and black, 491 appearances (only topped by Kevin Hodges) and 182 goals (Argyle's highest goalscorer by some margin), few would argue that Sammy Black is not the greatest of them all. He scored in double figures in every one of his first ten seasons and was top scorer in five of them - not bad for a winger. At just 5ft 6in and sporting size four boots, he epitomised the winger of the day - small, fast, tricky, and with dazzling skills. He rarely tracked back and his heading ability was guaranteed to amuse, but wingers of his era were not expected to do anything other than terrorise full-backs. It was his eye for goal that made him stand out he could shoot with either foot and many of his goals came from unlikely angles. Black was the darling of the Argyle crowd and his ten-year partnership with inside-left Jack Leslie was famous across the country - their clever exchanges would leave defenders chasing shadows.

During those years, Sam scored more goals than any other winger in English League football and was described as the best winger never to play for Scotland. But time was catching up on the the 'Mighty Atom', and after an injury at West Ham in October 1936 and an operation that followed, he missed the rest of the season. In 1937-38 he played just ten games, some at inside-forward, with his last appearance - although no one knew it at the time - against Swansea Town on January 26th, 1938. If ever there was a sign that Sammy's time was up, it was that in his final season, he failed to score.

With Bob Jack gone, Black was offered new terms at the end of the 1937-38 season - 4 per week plus 3 when in the first team - but he turned them down and was placed on the transfer list for 1,000, much to the dismay of the fans. Although Ipswich showed some interest, there were no firm offers and the fee was gradually reduced over the following months until it stood at 250. It seems a remarkably small fee for a player with such a fine career, but in those days, few clubs would take a chance on a player over 30 years old. Still there were no offers, but Sammy kept himself fit and ready by training with Plymouth Albion and kicking rugby balls. In November 1938, having had no income for nearly seven months, he wrote to the club to plead for a free transfer. The directors agreed to a nominal fee, believed to be 100, and within days a deal was agreed with Queens Park Rangers, arranged by 'Spectator', the football writer for the Sunday Independent, who was an old friend of the QPR manager, William Birrell. Very oddly, in all his years in football, Birrell had never seen Black play, but trusted the journalist's opinion that the winger had three or four years left in him. Sammy Black made just five appearances for QPR before war called time on League football. All told, a sad end to a wonderful career.

Argyle's new manager, Jack Tresadern.

We can only imagine the atmosphere at Home Park in the summer of 1938. Bob Jack's impact and influence must have pervaded at every turn, but the great man had gone. The players returned to pre-season training to be greeted by a new man, Mr Jack Tresadern, Argyle's first new manager for 28 years.

Jack Tresadern had been appointed in the closing weeks of the old season. His wealth of football experience had impressed the board of directors, who announced the appointment at the game at Luton Town on April 9th. Vice-chairman Clifford Tozer said that the selection was made from a very large number of applications from Scotland, Wales and all parts of England, and even from France and Holland, and pointed out that Argyle was a club with a high reputation in the football world and was popular wherever it went. Mr Tresadern had resigned from the manager's job at Tottenham Hotspur to join Argyle, and Alderman Tozer emphasised that the new man not only had considerable experience in football management, but thoroughly understood the game.

In his playing days, Jack Tresadern played for West Ham United and was capped for England at left-half. He also appeared in the historic first FA Cup Final at Wembley, playing against Bob Jack's son David, who at that time was with Bolton Wanderers. Tresadern moved on to Burnley and then joined Northampton Town as player-manager. Five years later he was appointed as Crystal Palace's manager, and another five years on, in 1935, he became manager of Spurs.

However impressive Jack Tresadern's credentials were, Bob Jack was always going to be a hard act to follow. Amongst the new manager's first signings were Dave Thomas from Romford and Ernie Smith from Nottingham Forest. Argyle had already begun to lose its reputation as an English club with a Scottish flavour.

The team photo for 1938-39: 31 players and trainer Bill Harper, with the new manager firmly in charge.

Harry Cann pushes the ball over the bar in front of 32,000 at Millwall in late September, with Johnny McNeil and Sammy Kirkwood (behind) looking on. Note the square woodwork in those days. Argyle lost 3-0, the result typifying the early form - wins at home and defeats away.

Early attendances were encouraging, with nearly 45,000 watching the first two games at Home Park. In the second, Argyle beat West Bromwich Albion 2-1, with both goals from another new boy, Jackie Wharton. He was an 18-year-old winger, who was the subject of a microphone plea by the manager before the game, asking for the 26,000 crowd's indulgence on account of Wharton's youth and possible debut nerves. But there was no stage fright - Wharton scored his first with an accomplished header after just one minute. West Brom drew level on 33 minutes but the debutant scored the winner on the hour. It originated with a right wing run and cross by Smith which was turned in by the youngster, after goalkeeper Adams had collapsed in a heap on the end of someone's boot. The 'keeper left the field for the next 15 minutes, returning with a bandaged head. The story is a reminder of how tough the game was in those days, as is the report of what happened next: "Then Jackie Smith was in the wars, a collision with a defender dislocating his shoulder, although he resumed after a few minutes' treatment."

Away at Norwich a week later there occurred the famous incident of the pigeon, which Jimmy Hunter apparently tripped over just as he was about to shoot. In October Argyle drew 0-0 at home to Manchester City, after an outstanding goalkeeping display by the future England International Frank Swift, who received a standing ovation from the crowd. Tresadern continued to tinker with the forward line, and in the thirteen matches before 12th November he had played four inside-rights, five outside-lefts and seven inside-lefts. Pleas were made for Sammy Black's return, including one from a parson in Leeds. However, Argyle had managed to remain unbeaten at home, until a 1-0 defeat by Bury on November 19th.

Argyle secured a surprising 4-3 away win at Luton in January, after Boxing Day and New Year's Eve defeats at home to Coventry and away to West Brom, and a 0-3 defeat by Sunderland in the FA Cup. Argyle's hero at Kenilworth Road was Fred Mitcheson, who scored a hat-trick in the first 11 minutes of the second half. The ground was a mud bath and Luton played into the visitors' hands by trying to play close football. Argyle, on the other hand, were much more direct.

Centre-forward Dave Thomas runs to meet a cross against Luton, with a few hardy souls on an open terrace looking on.

The bad weather continued and on the following Saturday, Argyle were home to Norwich. The game started despite the rain that had kept the crowd down to 6,942, and in wet and slippery conditions, Argyle went into a one goal lead on 14 minutes when Archer took a free kick that struck the underside of the bar before the back of the net. Then the weather got worse. Much of the midfield area was barren of grass and, therefore, a sea of mud. No one could see the lines and water was splashing everywhere much to the amusement of the crowd. When the game was finally abandoned at half-time there was no real surprise. Indeed the announcement was followed by another downpour. This was the first abandoned game at Home Park that anyone could remember and ruled out the first home goal scored by Argyle for nearly two months. Happily, when the game was replayed in the final week of the season, Argyle won by the same score.

By mid-February Argyle were languishing fifth from bottom of the division, still not having secured a home win since November. They eventually beat Bradford Park Avenue 4-1 on February 25th, with goals from Hunter (2), Thomas and Kirkwood. Early March saw a 2-1 victory at Fulham, but the manner won few friends. A string of free-kicks resulted in constant booing by the home supporters especially of Sam Kirkwood. The referee had to speak to players from both sides and, at one stage, a Fulham fan ran onto the pitch in protest at Argyle's strong-arm tactics, which had reduced Fulham to ten men.

In March the directors could not resist Manchester United's approaches, and sold centre-forward Bill Hullett (this season's top scorer with 10 goals) and outside-right Tommy Dougan to Manchester United for over 5,000, but brought in Bob Royston from Southport for 1,000. Later in March, Jack Tresadern gave a debut to right-half Ellis Stuttard, another of his summer signings. The 18-year-old could not possibly have imagined that this was the beginning of a 44-year association with the club, including two spells as manager.

Overall it was not a successful season but Argyle did win three of their last four games to finish in 15th place. They were never in serious threat of relegation but two decades of relative success were clearly in the past and the team needed to be re-built. Scoring goals continued to be Argyle's problem, with just 49 in 43 games, the second lowest in the division. Concern over standards at the club was growing and there was an emergency meeting of the Shareholders' Association. Indeed, at the Shareholders' AGM at the Farley Hotel in July 1939, there was little short of hostility from some. One said: "I have been watching football for years, and I think last season Argyle had the worst team they have ever had." Another said: "If they had the team at heart they would say: 'We have failed and we will give way to allow others to do better.'" There was general support for the manager, but criticism of the directors and concern about the heavy loss of over 4,000 over the year.

The directors reacted strongly by pruning the staff more severely than ever before. When the retained list was announced there were only 23 names on it, from a total of 41 professionals. Harry Cann and Jack Vidler were placed on the transfer list together with Fred Mitcheson ( 1,500), Tommy Black ( 1,000), Tommy Ryan ( 650), Wilf Chitty ( 750) and Jim McColgan ( 250), and free transfers were offered to 12 players. This would ensure a saving of 100 per week on the summer wage bill of 2,500. The loss of Jack Vidler after 12 years of service was particularly sad and the free transfer for Tod' Sloan indicated that it was unlikely that the 'A' team (the third XI) would continue. It was recognised that the whole forward line would have to be recast and there was talk of 'big money' needed for new forwards. There were even rumours that Ray Bowden wanted to come back to the club, and other names were also being mentioned. However, by the end of April, none of the existing players had actually signed the contracts offered to them. By the summer of 1939, war clouds hung over Europe and football assumed less importance in the minds of the general public, and the players began to think of their possible future outside the game.

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Tag: Plymouth Argyle

By Martin Johnes (Swansea University) and Alex Jackson (National Football Museum)

In 1978 Viv Anderson became the first black player to represent England at football. But 53 years earlier, another black player had been selected for England. Jack Leslie of Plymouth Argyle, however, never joined up with the squad. The FA claimed at the time that he had never been picked and that the press reports of his inclusion were a mistake. Leslie himself claimed years later that he had been dropped because of the colour of his skin.

Born in 1901, Jack Leslie was the son of a gas fitters’ labourer, who was from Jamaica, and a tailoress from Islington. He grew up in Canning Town in London and went onto become a very successful inside left with Plymouth Argyle from 1921 to 1935, scoring 137 goals in 401 appearances in the third and second divisions. In 1930 The Football Herald claimed he was ‘known throughout England for his skill and complexion’, while in 1932 the Daglig post called him a ‘coloured genius’.

At the time, he was one of only two black players who were regulars in the Football League, the other being Eddie Parris who played for Bradford Park Avenue, Bournemouth, Luton and Northampton. Parris won a single cap for Wales. His international cap came at a time when Wales were desperate for players. He did not have a good game and was never selected again.

How much racism Parris and Leslie faced in the game is unclear. Both were regularly described in the press as ‘coloured’ but not by their local newspapers and research has not uncovered any reports of crowd abuse towards them. But newspapers might easily have wanted to ignore anything uncomfortable and, in a society where there were deeply-held feelings of white superiority, it is unlikely that the two never faced racism from crowds. Indeed, as the above 1925 cartoon suggests, questions of race seemed to make white society uncomfortable and it was easier to ignore it or turn it into a joke than to discuss its meanings.

Both players were, however, popular with their own fans. This owed much to their skills and goals but was perhaps rooted in the fact that their colour made them different. In many ways, they were probably curiosities and they were sometimes referred to as notable personalities in the game.

In 1978, when Anderson was selected for England, a Daglig post reporter interviewed Leslie. By then, he was working as a bootman for West Ham. Leslie told the reporter how the Plymouth manager had called him into his office, put his arm on his shoulder and said ‘I’ve got great news for you. You’ve been picked for England’. Leslie recalled this knocked him ‘sideways’. He went on:

Everybody in the club knew about it. The town was full of it. All them days ago it was quite a thing for a little club like Plymouth to have a man called up for England. I was proud – but then I was proud just to be a paid footballer.

Then all of a sudden everyone stopped talking about it. Sort of went dead quiet. Didn’t look me in the eye. Then the papers came out a day or so later and Billy Walker of Aston Villa was in the team, not me. I didn’t ask outright. I could see by their faces it was awkward.

But I did hear, roundabout like, that the FA had come to have another look at me. Not at me football but at me face. They asked, and found they’d made a ricket. Found out about me daddy, and that was it.

There was a bit of an uproar in the papers. Folks in the town were very upset. No one ever told me official like but that had to be the reason, me mum was English but me daddy was black as the Ace of Spades. There wasn’t any other reason for taking my cap away.

Leslie’s selection was indeed announced in the press but as a reserve rather than as a first-team player. After the press announcement, the story did disappear and Leslie never joined up with the team. Leslie does not feature in the team recorded in the FA’s selection committee minutes, although these were drawn up later and could have been altered.

England teams were picked by a selection committee of fourteen administrators who voted on the team, showing little consistency but much experimentation and confusion and a desire to ensure teams were not overly dominated by professionals. Earlier in 1925 selectors had also come under some pressure from the press to look at talent in the third division. In 1930, the Athletic News noted that in the eleven seasons after the Great War 145 players were chosen by England and that 66 were yet to win a second cap.

Leslie listed in the England team. Nottingham Journal 6 October 1925.

The selectors were thus picking large numbers of players who they appeared to know little about and it is not impossible that Leslie was chosen without any knowledge of his colour. Leslie was playing in the third division (south) and would not have been very well known. One paper regarded his selection as a ‘surprise’, while another called the whole team ‘experimental’.

There does not seem to be any evidence of an uproar in the press when Leslie did not join up with the team but the Daily Herald did seek further information about what had happened. It was informed by the FA that Leslie had never been selected. Yet the Press Association told the paper that its announcement of his selection had come from the Football Association.

The Plymouth press had initially welcomed his selection but then dropped the story. One local reporter did, however, write:

My readers may be expecting from me a comment upon the Argyle Club’s announcement that Jack Leslie was not chosen as reserve forward for England. Unfortunately my pen is under a ban in this matter: but I may say that a mistake was made in London and transmitted to me. Anyway, Leslie was at that time playing quite well enough to be chosen.

Clearly some people at the time felt something untoward had occurred. Yet it is notable that nowhere in the discussion was his colour mentioned. The selection of a black man had not been not the cause of celebration or even comment. If it was then thought that he had been deselected because of his colour, as Leslie believed, then this was not a matter for public discussion either.

In later years, he was occasionally touted as a potential international but was nothing happened. In 1933, one national newspaper said of Leslie, ‘Had he been white he would have been a certain English international.’ It made no further comment. Racial discrimination was perhaps simply a matter of fact.

This article derives from a forthcoming study Martin Johnes has written on Eddie Parris and race in interwar British football. Martin also has forthcoming articles on race in post-1945 British boxing. Credit is due to Phil Vasili, the pioneering historian of black footballers. Further details of Leslie’s career can be found in Ryan Danes’ Plymouth Argyle: The Complete Record (2014).


Se videoen: Interview. Dan Scarr on Life in Plymouth so far