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Jeff Astle

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Title: Jeff Astle  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
Language: English
Subject: 1968 FA Cup Final, Tony Brown (English footballer), West Bromwich Albion F.C., 1967–68 in English football, Alan Ball, Jr.
Collection: 1942 Births, 1970 Fifa World Cup Players, 2002 Deaths, Association Football Forwards, Atherstone Town F.C. Players, British Expatriates in South Africa, Dunstable Town F.C. Players, England International Footballers, English Expatriate Footballers, English Expatriates in South Africa, English Footballers, Expatriate Soccer Players in South Africa, First Division/Premier League Top Scorers, Hellenic Fc Players, Hillingdon Borough F.C. Players, Notts County F.C. Players, People from Eastwood, Nottinghamshire, The Football League Players, The Football League Representative Players, West Bromwich Albion F.C. Players
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia

Jeff Astle

Jeff Astle
Personal information
Full name Jeffrey Astle
Date of birth (1942-05-13)13 May 1942
Place of birth Eastwood, Nottinghamshire, England
Date of death 19 January 2002(2002-01-19) (aged 59)
Place of death Burton upon Trent, Staffordshire, England
Playing position Striker
Senior career*
Years Team Apps (Gls)
1959–1964 Notts County 103 (31)
1964–1974 West Bromwich Albion 292 (137)
1974 Hellenic FC ? (?)
1974–1975 Dunstable Town ? (25)
1975–1976 Weymouth ? (20)
1976–1977 Atherstone Town ? (?)
1977 Hillingdon Borough (loan) ? (?)
Total 395 (168)
National team
England 5 (0)

* Senior club appearances and goals counted for the domestic league only.

† Appearances (goals)

Jeffrey "Jeff" Astle (13 May 1942 – 19 January 2002) was an English footballer. Nicknamed "the King" by fans, he played 361 games for West Bromwich Albion and scored 174 goals. He also won five caps for England, but without scoring.


  • Football career 1
  • Retirement, death and legacy 2
  • References 3
  • Bibliography 4
  • External links 5

Football career

Born in Eastwood, Nottinghamshire (in the same street, he claimed, as D. H. Lawrence), Astle turned professional with Notts County F.C. when he was 17. His style was that of a classic centre forward; he was a protégé of Tommy Lawton. In 1964 he signed for West Brom for a fee of £25,000. He scored 174 goals in 361 games for the Baggies,[1] including the only goal in the 1968 FA Cup Final, with which he completed the feat of scoring in every round of the competition.

Two years later, Astle scored in Albion's 2–1 defeat by Manchester City in the League Cup final, becoming the first player to score in the finals of both of the major English cup competitions at Wembley. He had already scored in the first leg of the 1966 League Cup Final four years previously, but that was at West Ham United's Boleyn Ground.

At the height of Astle's Albion career, the words "ASTLE IS THE KING" appeared in large white letters on the brickwork of Primrose Bridge, which carries Cradley Road over a canal in Netherton, in the heart of the Black Country. The bridge quickly became known locally as "the Astle Bridge". When the council removed the letters, they re-appeared a few days later. Following Astle's death in 2002, a campaign was launched to have the bridge officially named in his honour, but this has so far been rejected over fears of vandal attacks by supporters of rival teams, as the area also has a high percentage of Aston Villa and Wolverhampton Wanderers fans.

In 1969–1970 Astle was the leading scorer in Division One with 25 goals.[2] In 1970, he was called up to the England squad for the World Cup finals tournament in Mexico. He won the first of his five caps, as a substitute, when England were a goal down against eventual champions Brazil. He missed a relatively easy scoring chance during this debut appearance.

In subsequent years his fitness deteriorated through repeated injuries, and in 1974 he left Albion to join the South African club George Best.

Retirement, death and legacy

The Astle Gates at the Hawthorns

After his retirement Astle launched an industrial cleaning business, working around the Burton upon Trent area; later he also made TV comedy appearances with Frank Skinner and David Baddiel on Fantasy Football League.

On 19 January 2002, Astle collapsed at his daughter's home and was taken to Queen's Hospital Burton upon Trent, where he died, aged 59.[3] The cause of death was a degenerative brain disease; failing mental ability had first become apparent as much as five years earlier. He had been described as an exceptional header of the ball, and the coroner found that the repeated minor traumas had been the cause of his death, as the leather footballs used in Astle's playing days were considerably heavier than the plastic ones of today, especially when wet. This was not the first case of a footballer's illness or death (particularly in the form of Alzheimer's or dementia type symptoms) being connected to heading old fashioned footballs, another example being the former Tottenham Hotspur captain Danny Blanchflower who died of Alzheimer's disease in December 1993.[4] A verdict of death by industrial injury was recorded. In 2014, the Justice for Jeff campaign was launched, calling for an independent inquiry into a possible link between degenerative brain disease and heading footballs.[5] Subsequently he was confirmed as the first British footballer to die as a result of heading a football.[6] In the same year it was claimed by a neurosurgeon that Astle had died as a result of chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), a disease previously associated with boxers.[7]

On the day after his death, West Bromwich Albion held a minute's silence in honour of Astle, prior to their home match against Walsall. Albion striker Jason Roberts scored the only goal of the game and celebrated by removing his jersey to reveal a T-shirt bearing Astle's image.[8]

His funeral in Derbyshire was attended by hundreds of football fans.[9] Fantasy Football League returned for a number of special editions after Astle's death; the first programme being preceded by a minute's silence, in the style of those held at football matches. In November 2002, Astle's widow Lorraine said that she would take legal action over his death.[10]

Astle had been worshipped as a hero by the Albion fans, who would often sing (to the tune of Camptown Races): "Astle is the king, Astle is the king, the Brummie Roaders sing this song, Astle is the king". The chant is still heard at the Hawthorns. Following his death, a campaign was launched to fund a set of gates dedicated to his memory at the ground. The gates, which are situated on the Birmingham Road, close to the Woodman Corner, were unveiled on 11 July 2003.[11] In April 2003 Astle became the first person to have a Midland Metro tram named after him.[12][13]

In 2004 he was named as one of West Bromwich Albion's 16 greatest players, in a poll organised as part of the club's 125th anniversary celebrations.[14] Astle was also voted as one of Albion's five "

  • The GuardianObituary from
  • Report on coroner's verdict
  • England retrospectivev.Brazil
  • Jeff Astle – FIFA competition record
  • profile

External links

  • Astle, J (ed. Philip Osborn) (1970) Striker! ISBN 0-7207-0106-6
  • Willmore, G and Homer, J (2002) King of the Hawthorns: The Jeff Astle Story ISBN 0-9534626-5-X


  1. ^ "Baggies honor Astle with retro kit". 
  2. ^ "English League Leading Goalscorers 1889–2007".  
  3. ^ "Former England star Astle dies". BBC News. 20 January 2002. Retrieved 28 October 2007. 
  4. ^ Minogue, Tim (17 December 1995). "Alzheimer's link with football". The Independent (London). 
  5. ^ Irving, Lee (2 May 2014). Justice for Jeff' campaign launched"'".  
  6. ^ "Jeff Astle's family unhappy with authorities following research over his death". Sky Sports. Retrieved 20 July 2014. 
  7. ^ "'"Jeff Astle: West Brom legend 'killed by boxing brain condition. BBC. 1 June 2014. Retrieved 16 April 2015. 
  8. ^ "Albion 1 Walsall 0 – FULL MATCH REPORT". West Bromwich Albion F.C. 20 January 2002. Retrieved 21 May 2008. 
  9. ^ "Fond farewell for football hero". BBC News. 30 January 2002. Retrieved 28 October 2007. 
  10. ^ "Widow to sue over Astle's death". BBC News. 22 November 2002. Retrieved 28 October 2007. 
  11. ^ "Astle Gates". BOING. 11 July 2003. Retrieved 7 August 2007. 
  12. ^ "Tram named for Baggies hero". BBC News. 8 April 2003. Retrieved 28 October 2007. 
  13. ^ "Comic unveils Astle tram". BBC News. 12 April 2003. Retrieved 28 October 2007. 
  14. ^ "The wraps come off 125th anniversary mural". West Bromwich Albion F.C. 4 August 2004. Retrieved 27 April 2008. 
  15. ^ "Albion's all-time FA Cup heroes". West Bromwich Albion F.C. 18 February 2006. Retrieved 27 April 2008. 
  16. ^
  17. ^


It was announced on 26 March 2015 that the club would be holding "Astle Day" in his memory on 11 April at The Hawthorns, when the club host Leicester City FC. The team will wear the 1968 FA Cup Final kit that Astle wore when he scored the only goal in a 1-0 victory over Everton FC. They become only the second club to have been granted express permission from the Premier League for a kit change, after Manchester United donned a retro kit in honour of the 50th anniversary of the Munich air disaster in 2008. This day also marked the beginning of the Jeff Astle Foundation.[17]

Since early 2013, for around a year, West Brom fans make it a point at every home game to applaud on the ninth minute of the game for the entire minute in tribute to Jeff Astle and in support of the Justice for Jeff campaign. This is because he wore the No. 9 shirt for the club. During the minute the screens at the Hawthorns would have an image of Jeff Astle with the caption 'If in doubt, Sit them out.'[16] Albion's fierce rivals Aston Villa and Birmingham City also showed a picture of Astle on their screens when the Baggies played there that season.


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