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Blog: The Lion Who Never Roared

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Last night The Beer In My Bottle and I strolled through mythical Maryland to get to The Wanstead Tap, there to watch Mr M Tiller present a talk about his new book The Lion Who Never Roared.

As we know from STATISTICAL FACTS I have gigged and toured EXTENSIVELY over the years with Matt, and during those times he has a) always been a DELIGHT b) often spoken of the story of Jack Leslie, a legendary Plymouth Argyle player who was called up for England but then suddenly had the call-up denied by the FA once they realised he was black. Telling this story has been a long-term project for Matt, starting off with a SONG but then transmuting into co-founding The Jack Leslie Campaign, which set out to erect a statue outside Argyle's ground and ended up not only doing THAT but - incredibly - managing to get the FA to award an honorary England cap to his family.

The story of the story has ITSELF been quite an amazing thing, not least because the campaign was trying to put UP a statue recognising racial injustice at a time when other statues of slave owners were being torn DOWN, and this evening was a bit about that, but mostly going into more depth about Jack Leslie's life. I knew the outline of what had happened to him but Matt took us through a FASCINATING pile of details, Painting A Picture of what life was like for him back in the first half of the twentieth century, when he was the only black player in the football league.

There was also a GRATE bit at the end when he got Jack Leslie's granddaughter up to talk about her Grandad, followed by QUESTIONS which included thoughts about the family, discussion of ongoing racial injustice in sport, and, at the end, an in-depth FOOTBALL STATS discussion because, after all, you cannot have any discussion of football without a massive STATS discussion. Matt handled it all with APLOMB and we were VERY PROUD, especially when a MASSIVE QUEUE formed to get him to sign it - that never happened when we did gigs together!

queue of people lining up to get Matt Tiller to sign a copy of his book

The desire to BUY was so strong that they actually sold out of copies before I could get one, although HANDILY it is very much available in All Good Book Stores and indeed direct from the campaign. I would highly recommend it as an ENTHRALLING and also IMPORTANT story what needs telling... and has been!

posted 17/11/2023 by MJ Hibbett

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