The Ballad of Jack Leslie is the new single by Matt Tiller, released in support of The Jack Leslie Campaign, aiming to raise £100,000 to build a statue of the pioneering black footballer denied an England cap due to the colour of his skin.
The Ballad of Jack Leslie is a modern folk song which tells the story of the footballer who should have been the first black player for England in 1925. Leslie was from Canning Town, played for Barking Town (now Barking FC) before signing for Plymouth Argyle in 1921 where he enjoyed an illustrious career. He came to England selectors’ attention and was named in the team to play Ireland in 1925 but the FA then denied he had been picked and he was never given the chance to play.
The Ballad is a modern folk song in the tradition of the best heartfelt, storytelling tunes and, in part, led to the campaign to build a statue of Jack. Singer-songwriter, Matt Tiller, is co-founder of The Jack Leslie Campaign which has gained national attention. Matt says,
“When I heard Jack’s story last year I was at first ashamed that I didn’t know this incredible piece of football history and then moved to write a song which my small, but loyal fanbase seems to love. That includes fellow Plymouth Argyle fan, Greg Foxsmith, and together we resolved to celebrate this pioneering player’s achievements and raise funds to build a statue.”
Fundraising has already been a huge success and at the halfway mark of the campaign are already more than three quarters of the way to the £100,000 target which they hope to hit very soon and exceed. The release of The Ballad of Jack Leslie aims to help them reach that target with all profits going to the campaign.
Jack Leslie’s granddaughter Lyn Davies, says:
‘We are delighted that Jack’s story is finally getting the attention it deserves and Matt’s song about granddad is wonderful. It had me in tears thinking about him, the injustice that happened but also how he carried on with such grace and humility. I hope we’re able to hear it in person very soon.’
Matt Tiller is a musician, comedian, writer and television comedy producer who usually produces offbeat comic songs and musical one-liners and has won audience appreciation and critical acclaim in clubs and at festivals nationwide, including the Edinburgh Fringe. The Ballad of Jack Leslie is a departure but audiences at live gigs have loved the song as much as his humorous offerings.
For the extended version: