Club News

Albion mourn Jeff Farmer

ALBION are saddened to learn of the passing of former director Jeff Farmer.

Jeff served as a non-executive director at The Hawthorns from 2004 to 2011, offering particular advice on media matters, drawing on a lifetime’s experience in the game as a journalist in the local and national press and then as head of sport at ITV.

His understanding of the changing media landscape was invaluable as Albion began to adapt to life back in the Premier League and members of the media department throughout that time will all testify to how unfailingly helpful and intelligent was his advice, even in the most challenging times.

His association with the Throstles dated back to the 1960s when he was the Albion reporter with the Express & Star, later working on nationals such as the Daily Sketch which merged with the Daily Mail.

During much of that time, he formed a media double act with Ray Matts of the Evening Mail, so much so that the two effectively became part of the matchday squad according to Tony Brown.

“Jeff and Ray would travel with us to away games on the team coach and they’d just sit together with the lads and play cards with us.

“Jeff liked a bet as well and you could often find him in the bookies with Jeff Astle after training. They were absolute regulars with us and you just treated them as part of the group.

“You could absolutely trust the two of them, everything you said was off the record, you knew they wouldn’t go behind your back, either in the paper or to the manager.

“It was a different job then, it was more about reporting on the game rather than getting quotes. Jeff might ask you for an opinion on something, but he knew the game himself anyway, he wasn’t out of his depth with the players and that helped him get our respect.

“As anybody who ever met Jeff knows, he always had a thousand stories to tell you, he knew absolutely everybody. He was always ready for a laugh and could tell a good joke.

“He was a lovely chap and always good to have around. It was nice in later years when he came back to the club as a director and there was an opportunity to catch up with him and do a bit of reminiscing! He’ll be sadly missed.”

After leaving print journalism for a second career as head of sport with ITV, Farmer had specialist knowledge of the way that industry worked, so important in the Premier League era. It was, therefore, a shrewd move to appoint him to the Albion board during the 2003/04 campaign, thereby having his huge experience on tap.

Chief Executive Mark Jenkins, said: “Jeff was Albion through and through and served the club during one of our most successful periods in recent history.

“He always provided wise counsel to Jeremy Peace and I, and was a highly respected and greatly appreciated board member.

“Jeff’s last game at The Hawthorns was the 1-0 win over Tottenham in May and his passion following the final whistle was clear for all to see.

“Jeff knew this club as well as anyone and he will be gravely missed by everyone who worked with him at The Hawthorns. Our thoughts are with his wife, Kath, and the rest of his family.”

Jeff left the board in 2011, aged 72, to enjoy a well-earned retirement. He remained a regular visitor to The Hawthorns until comparatively recently and was always able to light up a room with his sense of humour and his encyclopaedic knowledge of the game.

Jeff Farmer was a one off, an Albion man to his core and a good man who it was an absolute pleasure to know. We’ll not see his like again.

Rest easy, Jeff.

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