Full Name: Jeffrey Astle

Position: Centre-forward

Date of Birth: 13th May 1942
Birthplace: Eastwood, Nottinghamshire

Died: 19th January 2002
Place of Death:
Burton upon Trent, Staffordshire

Nationality: English

Joined Albion: 30th September 1964 from Notts County for a fee of £22,500
Competitive Albion Debut: 30/09/1964 v Leicester City (A) First Division, lost 2-4
First Goal: 10/10/1964 v Wolverhampton Wanderers (H) First Division, won 5-1

Last Competitive Albion Appearance: 30/03/1974 v Cardiff City (as a substitute) (H) Second Division, drew 2-2
Last Goal:
23/02/1974 v Bristol City (H) Second Division, drew 2-2
Left Albion:
Joined South African club Hellenic FC in May 1974 after his Albion contract had expired on April 30, 1974


On May 13, 1942, in the mining village of Eastwood, Nottinghamshire, one of Albion’s greatest ever players was born - Jeff Astle.

It wasn’t an easy childhood for young Jeff; he lost his father Samuel at the age of just four and for his, like so many families in the post war years, life was financially a struggle. Similar to many boys of that era Jeff found solace in football. By the age of ten he was captaining his school football team and once recorded the feat of scoring 18 of his team’s goals in a 22-0 victory. Secondary school saw him continue his football education and at the age of 14 he had a trial at his local Football League club Notts County. Jeff impressed and two days before his 15th birthday he signed amateur terms with the club despite interest from
Coventry City.

After spending a short period combining his football career with working as an apprentice fitter at Eastwood Colliery, Jeff was offered the chance to work full-time on the groundstaff at Meadow Lane, it was an offer he didn’t refuse. Under the tutelage of County manager and former England striker Tommy Lawton, Jeff established himself as a regular in the club’s youth team. The young player’s fledgling career suffered a set-back when Lawton left County in July 1958 but things would get much worse when at the end of the 1958/59 season, Jeff, along with most of County’s groundstaff, were told that they were being released. Jeff’s career looked over before it had even started.

Jeff found employment at the tobacco company John Player whilst also playing for their football team. County meanwhile, despite their earlier decision to release Jeff, continued to monitor him and a few months after being let go by the club he received an offer of a first professional contract. Jeff made his Football Combination debut shortly after and became a regular for County’s reserve side before progressing to the first team squad. His senior debut came on
September 23, 1961, in a Third Division match against Reading at Elm Park. It wasn’t a successful start to Jeff’s first team career, County suffered a 4-2 defeat. Jeff finished the 1961/62 season with eight appearances but no goals.

He missed the first two games of the following season but after being selected for a home game against
Bournemouth he never looked back and was an ever present for the rest of the campaign. He scored his first goal for the club in a 2-2 draw away at Colchester United on September 8 and went on to finish the season with 19 league and cup goals. The following season saw Jeff again impress, hitting 14 goals in total which included his first ever professional hat-trick, but the season was a disaster for County who were relegated to Division Four. The end of the 1963/64 season saw Jeff hand in a transfer request, the player feeling the County board had broken a promise regarding him being handed a club house to live in. His request was granted and he was put up for sale.

Jeff started the 1964/65 season in decent form, hitting eight goals in 13 games. A number of clubs had shown an interest in Jeff but it was Albion and Jimmy Hagan that made the first move, agreeing a £17,500 fee with County for the striker’s services. Surprisingly talks broke down between the player and club with Jeff reportedly demanding more than what
Albion were willing to pay. It looked as though the deal was off much to both the club and player’s disappointment but with Albion languishing in mid-table and on a run of three successive league defeats the club soon made another attempt to sign the player and this time terms were agreed to the relief of everyone. On September 30, 1964, Jeff became a Baggie for a fee of £22,500 - County had upped the price after the first failed transfer bid. He left Meadow Lane having scored 41 goals in 116 first team appearances.

He made his
Albion debut just hours after joining the club in a 4-2 defeat away at Leicester City and despite missing a 'sitter', the newcomer did enough to suggest that he would be a useful addition to the Baggies' squad. Three days later the team travelled to Bramall Lane to take on Sheffield United and for the first time Jeff wore the coveted number nine shirt. Although he once again drew a blank, Jimmy Hagan's men did return to the Midlands with a point from a 1-1 draw. The following Saturday saw Jeff make his first appearance at The Hawthorns, the visitors being Staffordshire rivals Wolverhampton Wanderers. It would be a game to remember for both player and supporters, Jeff netting a goal in each half in a 5-1 stroll for the hosts. He would finish his first season in West Bromwich with a respectable 11 goals from 33 appearances, a tally that saw him finish, along with Clive Clark, as Albion's joint top goalscorer for the campaign.

His first full season at the club saw Jeff really make his mark in English football's top-flight with 18 goals in 27 starts but it was in the League Cup where both player and club had most success. The Baggies, who were entering the competition for the first time, strolled past Walsall, Leeds United Coventry City, Aston Villa and Peterborough United before coming face to face with a West Ham side containing the backbone of England's soon to be World Cup winners - Moore, Peters and Hurst. The two-legged tie saw Albion lose the first game at Upton Park 2-1 with Jeff scoring for the visitors. The second leg at The Hawthorns a fortnight later would go down as one of the great games in Albion history with goals from John Kaye, Tony Brown, Clive Clark and Graham Williams helping the Baggies to a 4-1 win on the night and a 5-3 victory on aggregate. It was Jeff's first major honour in the game.

Jeff would find the net regularly over the next five seasons but without question the 1967/68 campaign would probably be his best for the club. He actually started the season somewhat sluggishly with just two goals in ten appearances but a hat-trick at home to Sheffield United at the end of September would signal the start of a fantastic run of goalscoring which would culminate in May with the goal that most people associate him with - the winning goal in the 1968 FA Cup Final versus Everton. His tally of 35 league and cup goals included three hat-tricks, two of which were scored in the space of three days, the first coming in a memorable 6-3 win over Manchester United at The Hawthorns.

He finally received the international recognition his club form merited in May 1969 when he was awarded the first of his five England caps in a 2-1 win over Wales at Wembley. Jeff travelled to Mexico for the 1970 World Cup finals but it would be a tournament to forget for both player and country. After coming on as a 63rd minute substitute in a group game against Brazil, Jeff missed a glorious chance to really make a name for himself on the international stage. England would go on to lose the game 1-0 and Jeff's miss would be talked about for years. Sadly his international career never got going and the Mexico tournament would be the end of his England days.

The departure of Alan Ashman as Albion boss in the summer of 1971 would also see Jeff's influence at the club start to come to an end. The arrival of former player Don Howe as Ashman's .replacement was initially welcomed by many but not Jeff who privately expressed reservations about the appointment. Despite Jeff's doubts about Howe, the new manager had made it clear that Astle was in his plans for the club, indeed, a reported £100,000 bid from Brian Clough's Derby County was turned down for his services.

Despite a public declaration of faith in the player from Howe, the dour defensive football that he introduced to The Hawthorns was not conducive to Jeff's Albion career. He finished the 1971/72 season with four goals in 25 appearances, just two of which were scored in league football. To be fair to Jeff he had endured a campaign blighted by illness and injury but it was still clear to see that his powers had diminished greatly, as had the club's fortunes under Howe, the Baggies finishing in a lowly 16th position. Things would get much worse however the following season, Jeff was once again beset by injuries whilst Howe led the club to it's first relegation since 1938. A shadow of his former self, Jeff did his best to help the club avoid the drop with five goals in 14 appearances but it was nowhere near enough as Albion finished bottom of the First Division.

Despite relegation, the Albion hierarchy stuck with Howe and Jeff's first team chances remained sparse, indeed his first appearance of the 1973/74 season didn't arrive until February for the home clash against Bristol City. Jeff duly obliged the Baggies' faithful that had welcomed him back so vociferously with a second-half equaliser after City had took a 2-1 lead. It was to be the player's last ever goal in senior football. His final Albion appearance followed five weeks later as a substitute in another 2-2  Hawthorns' draw, this time against Cardiff City. Despite Jeff having no future at the club, Albion turned down a £50,000 bid from his former team Notts County, opting instead to give him a free transfer to enable him to secure a better financial deal for himself. Jeff's Albion career officially ended on April 30, 1974. In total Jeff scored 174 goals for the Baggies in 361 appearances with only William 'G' Richardson, Tony Brown and Ronnie Allen scoring more goals for the club.

Whilst Jeff was considering his next move, he received a phone call from former England team-mate Bobby Moore who was then plying his trade in South Africa with Hellenic. Jeff readily agreed to join the former England captain and would spend a successful six weeks playing in the country. On his return to England he received a number of offers to continue his playing career but he somewhat surprisingly opted to join non-league strugglers Dunstable Town who were managed by the larger than life Barry Fry.  With an ambitious owner throwing plenty of cash at the club, Dunstable stormed to promotion, helped in no small part by 34 goals from Jeff who had found a new lease of life at the lower level. Sadly Jeff's good run with the club came to an end in the summer of 1975 when it emerged that the 'ambitious' club supremo Keith Cheeseman had been involved in fraudulent activity, one deal of which left Jeff £10,000 out of pocket. The conman would two years later go to prison for a number of different frauds which he had committed.

Jeff's next port of call was another non-league side - Weymouth, and like at Dunstable he found goals considerably easy to come by, notching 31 goals in his first season for the south coast club. It was during this time with the Terras that he took his first steps into window cleaning, a trade that would serve him well after his playing career eventually ended. The following season saw Jeff in dispute with Weymouth and after just two months of the campaign he returned to the Midlands to join Atherstone Town who were then managed by former England keeper Gil Merrick. His time with the Adders was blighted by injury and the success he experienced at both Dunstable and Weymouth was not to be repeated. A short loan spell under former boss Barry Fry at Hillingdon Borough was cut short by injury and at the end of the 1976/77 season, after almost 20 years in the game, Jeff decided to hang up his boots.

After retiring from playing Jeff made a number of appearances for the Albion Old Stars team, assisted with the club's lottery scheme and became president of the supporters club but that was as far as his involvement with the game would go. He never showed any interest in either coaching or management, preferring instead to concentrate on his cleaning business. He would though continue to support the club for the rest of his life and would often be seen at games, usually with a throng of supporters around him, a sign of his enduring popularity amongst Baggies' fans.

In 1994 Jeff was introduced to a new audience when he became part of the BBC's Fantasy Football series, presented by David Baddiel and Albion fan Frank Skinner. Jeff would sing the show out with renditions of well known songs, usually with some sort of connection to the week's guests or news. He would later exploit his new found fame by touring clubs and colleges with the 'Jeff Astle Roadshow'. His last appearance on Fantasy Football, which by now had switched to ITV, came during the 1998 World Cup finals.

Jeff returned to leading a 'normal life' after his television appearances had ended and little was heard about him over the next couple of years except for rumours that he was not in the best of health. Sadly those rumours were true and the football world was thrown into shock when on January 19, 2002, Jeff collapsed and died at his daughter's house in Burton-on-Trent. At the age of just 59, football had lost a true legend. The following day Albion hosted Walsall in a televised clash which is remembered by most for the scenes of grief before the match and Jason Roberts' poignant celebration dedicated to Jeff after scoring the only goal of the game.

It would later emerge that continued heading of a football during his playing career had contributed to his death. In 2013, after years of inaction by the football authorities, Jeff's family launched the 'Justice for Jeff' campaign, culminating in April 2015 with the launch of the Jeff Astle Foundation.


NOTTS COUNTY (11/05/1957 - 05/1959, 0 appearances)
(1959, statistics unknown)
(11/1959 - 30/09/1964, 116 appearances, 41 goals)
(30/09/1964 - 30/04/1974, 359+2 appearances, 174 goals)
(05/1974 - 06/1974, statistics unknown)
(22/07/1974 - summer 1975, statistics unknown)
(summer 1975 - 10/1976, statistics unknown)
(10/1976 - 05/1977, statistics unknown)
(on loan from Atherstone Town, 02/1977- 03/1977, 2 appearances, 0 goals)


ENGLAND (FULL) (1969 - 1970, 5 caps)
ENGLAND (B) (1970, 2 appearances, 5 goals)
ENGLAND XI (1969, 2 appearances, 2 goals)
FOOTBALL LEAGUE XI (1970, 2 appearances, 4 goals)



1964/65 32 1 - - - 33
1965/66 27 0 7 - - 34
1966/67 38 2 6 4 - 50
1967/68 40+1 10 1 - - 51+1
1968/69 37 5 2 6 0 50
1969/70 34 0 9 - 0 43
1970/71 41 4 3 - 5 53
1971/72 22 0 0 - 3 25
1972/73 14 1 0 - 0 15
1973/74 5+1 0 0 - - 5+1
TOTAL 290+2 23 28 10 8 359+2


1964/65 10 1 - - - 11
1965/66 18 0 6 - - 24
1966/67 16 1 5 0 - 22
1967/68 26 (1 pen) 9 0 - - 35 (1 pen)
1968/69 21 2 (1 pen) 2 1 0 26 (1 pen)
1969/70 25 0 5 - 0 30
1970/71 13 1 1 - 1 16
1971/72 2 0 0 - 2 4
1972/73 5 0 0 - 0 5
1973/74 1 0 0 - - 1
TOTAL 137 (1 pen) 14 (1 pen) 19 1 3 174 (2 pens)

Other games include: 1968/69 - FA Charity Shield; 1969/70 - Anglo-Italian Cup; 1970/71 - Anglo-Italian Cup & Texaco Cup; 1971/72 - Watney Cup; 1972/73 - Texaco Cup

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