Matt Tiller (1991, Modern History) to release new book on footballer Jack Leslie
Exeter College alumnus Matt Tiller (1991, Modern History) is soon to release a book which takes a refreshing look at sports history. Released on 23 October, The Lion Who Never Roared documents the story of Jack Leslie, the first Black captain in the Football League. Leslie was also the first Black footballer selected to play for England, but was dropped without playing a game, most likely because of his skin colour. Despite this, he had an exceptional career as a prolific goalscorer, netting 137 times in 401 games for Plymouth Argyle. In 2022 he was awarded a posthumous honorary England cap by the FA, which the FA said in a statement was “to recognise his unique contribution and set of circumstances – and to right the historical wrong”.
Matt Tiller is a co-founder of The Jack Leslie Campaign, which successfully fundraised for a statue to commemorate Jack Leslie at Home Park in Plymouth. Since graduating from Exeter College, Matt has had a successful media career. He has written and produced for BBC, Sky, and Channel 4, and covered Plymouth Argyle in his first job as a radio reporter.
Matt said about his upcoming release, “It’s been a huge privilege to research Jack’s life and writing it has been a real labour of love over the last year. Jack lived a fascinating and important life and I hope people enjoy reading it, not only the chapters about what happened with the England selection but also his early life, achievements with Barking Town and Essex as well as those great years with Plymouth Argyle and all the incredible characters at the club in the 1920s and 30s. His later years cleaning boots for West Ham United’s World Cup winners and club legends are covered too.”
Viv Anderson MBE, who in 1978 became the first Black person to play for England’s senior men’s side, wrote the foreword to the book, describing Leslie’s history as “Inspiring and important. An extraordinary life story.”