GALLERY: Jeff Astle Day remembers Eastwood legend

Claire Astle with her son Jospeh and mum, Laraine Astle.
Claire Astle with her son Jospeh and mum, Laraine Astle.

The sporting home of Eastwood football legend Jeff Astle sold out for a special tribute game to honour him last weekend.

Some 26,000 gathered for Astle Day last week as West Bromwich Albion played Leicester City in a Premiership game devoted to the striker.

But despite losing 3-2 at the last minute, it was a warm and emotional occasion for Jeff’s family and supporters to remember the hero, who died at the age of 59.

Jeff’s wife Laraine and two of their daughters, Dawn and Claire, were treated to a box for the April 11 match. His grandson Joseph, two, held the match ball and daughter Dawn spoke to fans at half-time to give thanks for all their support, and to announce the new Jeff Astle Foundation, which will support all people with sport-related brain damage, and namely chronic traumatic encephalopathy – the condition which claimed her father’s life in 2002.

Laraine said: “It was marvellous, apart from the result, but the club did us proud.

“We’ve worked long and hard for the Justice for Jeff and for the Foundation, we took on Football and won - I wasn’t going to let 90 minutes ruin that.

And the family were deeply touched by fans, who held up a mosaic of cards in the ninth minute, which simply read

‘Astle King’.

She added: “When the Brummies held up the mosaic in the ninth minute it was absolutely brilliant. Every year I present the Jeff Astle memorial trophy to someone who has done a great service to West Brom. This year the supporters were the recipients and representatives from all four sides of the ground came down and held it up to the fans. It was lovely.”

Mayor Ken Woodhead represented the town at the event alongside members of the Chapter & Verse community group.

Cllr Woodhead said: “It was absolutely fantastic. It was a pleasure to represent Eastwood for Jeff Astle. He was a fantastic player and Eastwood should be proud of the man.”

Dave Page, of the group, said: “Jeff is important to Eastwood and we would welcome ideas from the community to establish a local branch of his foundation.”