Eastwood son and West Brom hero, Jeff Astle is remembered today at a special tribute match. We remember give you a little glimpse of the life and career of a true legend and beloved father and husband.
Jeff Astle was born in May 1942. He attended Devnshire Drive School and became captain of the Junior football team. Aged 10 he rocked the school by scoring 18 goals in a single match, winning 22-nil.
One of seven siblings, Jeff grew up on Nottingham Road and came from nothing. He and the boys couldn’t afford a football so they could only play on the off chance. His boots were always hang-me-downs, and often needed to be stuffed with newspaper.
At 15 he signed for Notts County and turned pro within three years.
He married his wife Laraine Astle in 1963. They had three daughters, Claire, Doris and Dawn – Jeff would have five grandchildren and one great-grandson if he were alive today.
He was transferred to West Bromiwch Albion, the team where he made his name, in 1964, and in the 1967-8 season scored 26 league goals and nine in the FA cup.
But his finest moment was arguably in 1968, when he scored the only goal in the cup final against Everton, giving West Brom a win of 1-0.
He then went on to play five times for England and after leaving Albion played for Hellenic FC, Dunstable, Weymouth, atherstone and Hillingdon Borough – he retired in 1977 and started his own industrial cleaning business. He also took up cricket, and even had an offer from Notts County Cricket Club.
His untimely passing in 2002 is all too familiar to West Brom fans. Jeff died from degenerative brain disease caused by regular traumas. He was known as a keen header of the ball, and one the club’s website even acknowledges that he scored more with his head than with his feet. But the punishment from the heavy leather balls of the era took it’s toll.
Now his family are establishing the Jeff Astle Foundation to support sufferers of the condition – Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy, and to aid research in his name.
Read more about Jeff Astle at the West Bromwich Albion news site, www.wba.co.uk.