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Plaque for east London boy

East London pioneer Jack Leslie has been honoured with a blue plaque in his memory at his old Canning Town stomping ground.

The inside left was born in 1901 and becoming a genuine sensation, playing initially for Barking Town.

Born to a Jamaican father and an English mother, Leslie was one of the very first black footballing pioneers in this country.

Leslie moved from Barking to Plymouth Argyle, where he became a star, playing for the club between 1921 and 1935 and scoring 133 goals in 384 games.

He was so good, he was actually selected for England in 1925 but was deselected with no explanation; as the Hammers’ official website has reported, the belief at the time was that he was only taken out of the squad due to the colour of his skin.

Viv Anderson became England’s first black footballer 53 years later, in 1978.

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After his retirement, Leslie initially became a boilermaker until he retired in his 60s, when he was employed by West Ham manager Ron Greenwood as a boot boy. That came about after his family contacted the club, with Greenwood recognising that Leslie had been a magnificent player.

With him working behind the scenes, Leslie looked after the kit of the likes of Bobby Moore, Trevor Brooking, and Geoff Hurst.

Leslie died in 1988, at the age of 87, and it was not until a campaign by two Plymouth fans that his story became widely known.

Everyone at ClaretandHugh is delighted to see Leslie honoured in this way.

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About Dave Langton

A journalist with 10 years' experience of working on National newspapers, now chief reporter covering the club that I've loved since I was a boy. Upton Park remains the greatest football stadium ever built.