As told by his loved ones.
WHAT were Jeff Astle’s favourite things? His wife Laraine and daughters Dawn and Claire reveal all.
So ladies, what was Jeff’s favourite…?
Moment in football?
(Laraine) The 1968 FA Cup final, scoring the goal that won the cup for Albion.
Goal he ever scored?
(Laraine) Again, the one the in the FA Cup final. He always said it wasn’t his best but his was his favourite and most important.
Goal he ever saw?
(Laraine) I can’t say that he picked any out really. I don’t recall him saying “Oh that was a cracking goal” or anything like that. He may have done but I can’t remember one off the top of my head. He very rarely talked football at home actually.
(Claire) Knowing Dad he would have probably said one of his own!
Game that he was involved in?
(Laraine) I think it would have to be the cup final again.
(Dawn) Would it not have been the Manchester United game?
(Laraine) Oh yes it would have been the game when Albion beat Manchester United 6-3 at The Hawthorns. Jeff scored a hat-trick that day and we played them off the pitch.
Player of all time?
(Laraine) Oh, he had two players he thought a lot of. One was George Best and the other who he also admired was Francis Lee. He used to tell people that Francis Lee was at his best when he was playing with Manchester City. He was big pals with Franny.
(Laraine) Newcastle. He never won there and very rarely scored there, but he just loved the atmosphere at St. James Park.
Football kit owned as a boy?
(Laraine) He never had one, there were no such things as football kits that you were able to buy in those days.
Pair of boots?
(Laraine) He always wore Adidas. Puma were going to pay him at one stage to wear their boots, but he didn’t because he liked the Adidas ones so much. He hated having new boots anyway, he would come home and put wet newspaper in the end of them and wear them around the house to wear them in.
(Dawn) He was one of seven kids and they couldn’t afford a football, so they all had to wait for somebody who had a ball to go and play on the park. When he started catching the eye and was starting to get picked for teams, he had to borrow boots. If they were too big, he would have to stuff newspaper down them.
(Laraine) Nine out of ten times his boots didn’t fit him as a young lad, because they were always hand-me-downs. His family were very poor, but he would never begrudge anyone of having fancy boot deals these days. He wasn’t materialistic at all.
World Cup memory?
(Laraine) I think the whole experience of going away with England to the World Cup in 1970 in Mexico. When he first went away with England he didn’t really enjoy it because he didn’t really know any of the players, whereas at Albion he was used to a tight group. However when he went more and more he became one of the lads. He made great friendships with the likes of Bobby Moore.
Childhood memory of football?
(Laraine) I think probably being taught how to head a ball by Tommy Lawton. He was a former England international forward, and he taught Jeff how to head the ball properly.
(Laraine) The day before they went on holiday to Mablethorpe, a lorry went up their road and a box fell off the back of it, full with Punch chocolate bars. Jeff took the box to Mablethorpe and he always used to say to me how he had punch bars morning, afternoon and night. He always used to talk about it.
Lesson at school?
(Laraine) Yes maths definitely. He was brilliant at it. He wasn’t very good at history, he once told me that Abraham Lincoln was shot dead and later died in hospital!
(Laraine) He loved Labradors, yellow Labradors.
(Laraine) Jeff didn’t have a favourite colour. I always bought his clothes. He was happy with any colour.
(Laraine) He had two. A cup of tea, and a pint of Pedigree.
(Claire) Steak. Anything with steak and would have it.
(Laraine) He liked steak salad, with mushrooms and onion rings.
(Laraine) He didn’t really have one. He liked lots of restaurants, but he didn’t really have a favourite. He just enjoyed a good meal.
(Dawn) He loved Thorntons Toffee, with the Brazil nuts in them. We used to get him one every year.
(Laraine) Tenerife. We went every October for eight years on the trot.
(Claire) Mum would drag him to the movies but he would fall asleep!
(Laraine) There was one we went to see and he did like it. Kelly’s Heroes. It had Clint Eastwood, Telly Savalas and Donald Sutherland in it. It was a war film, he really liked that.
(Laraine) He loved last of the summer wine, he very rarely missed it. When he turned 50 we went to visit the set and he wore a happy birthday badge on his top. People were coming up to him wishing him a happy birthday and he loved it. He also enjoyed watching the news and the Olympics.
(Dawn) Also, test match cricket and horse racing. He would sit through the night to watch it.
Sport other than football?
(Laraine) Cricket was his favourite sport other than football. He loved his cricket.
Thing to laugh at?
(Laraine) He just laughed at most things really. He always looked for the funny things in most things. It was just the way he was. He didn’t really take anything too seriously.
Thing to do to relax away from football?
(Dawn) Taking the dog for a walk. He had a funny way with dogs. You know they say dogs always have one master, he was that master.
(Claire) He loved sunbathing when he was on holiday.
(Laraine) He loved his holidays, but I think his favourite thing to do was to go to Cheltenham races. He was like a kid in a toy shop when that was coming round. He absolutely loved it. As soon as it was finished he started to talk about next year. He used to go for the entire festival. Some of his ashes are at fence 17 of the Gold Cup track. His favourite race was the Gold Cup, and the year Dawn Run won, he had backed it because of the name and Ben Robinson, Chairman of Burton Albion, who he went with, told me that Dad was running along the side of the track shouting, “That’s my girl, that’s my girl!”
(Dawn) Rhinestone Cowboy. He would sing it all the time. He would come round the corner when I was with my friends and they would always ask what that noise was. It would be Dad singing! He loved Crystal Chandeliers too. If you ask anyone who knew him, when he chose the tunes on the jukebox it would be either of those two songs.
(Laraine) He would sit in the bath singing his head off!
(Claire) All I remember is him singing ‘aye aye aye, Astle is better than Pele’ in the car!
(Laraine) When I first met Jeff he was big into Cliff Richard. As time went by, he was Cliff Richard and Elvis. In later years, Jeff was a massive fan of Barry Manilow. We would go to every concert when he was in the country. He also liked Neil Diamond and Glen Campbell.
(Laraine) I don’t think he had a favourite one, we had lots of cars and I can’t remember him saying one was his favourite.
Book or magazine?
(Laraine) I never saw him read a book! He did read newspapers though. He would start at the back with the sports pages, and then read every single page. He liked The Sun and The Mirror. He would also drive miles to get a copy of the Sports Argus too!
And finally… his favourite moment in an Albion shirt?
(Laraine) I think the easy answer would be to say scoring the goal in the FA Cup final, but I would have to go with scoring goals for Albion and running towards the fans with his arms aloft. That is what he did, two arms and then one.