Edited and Designed by
William Luscombe. Published by Pelham Books Ltd for
Astle scores the first goal in the 1970 League Cup Final,
West Brom went on to lose 2-1 to Man.City after extra
Astle West Bromwich Albion and England centre-forward
The space between does
to white stumps must be the most sought-after piece of
ground in the world. To a centre forward that is. For
make no mistake, it's goals that count. And as football
becomes more competitive with every season, each one of
these goals is as valuable as nuggets from a gold mine.
A goal can win an
international Cup, the FA Cup, promotion or relegation.
Just one goal can boost a club's fortunes, but one goal
scored by the opposition can plunge that club into
despair. That is why it a forward must score. No matter
how good the player is it's the end product that counts,
and in these days of defensive football it becomes more
difficult to get the ball into the net.
West Bromwich Albion is
an attacking team and in the 1969-70 season, men like
ColinSuggett, Bobby Hope and Tony Brown have laid on some
wonderful passes to me to convert.
But my greatest
ambition was to be chosen for Mexico and the World Cup.
It's the target of every England professional worth his
salt and a tremendous spur, for no matter how much you
regard your own club,if you think you stand a chance, you
go all out for an England place.
I know how tough it is
trying to beat some of these cast-iron defences, but I am
at my best in the air and I have trained carefully and
arduously to prepare myself for a every opportunity.
Timing is everything. To connect properly you have to be
on the right place at the right time. You mustn't go up
too early or too late and, of course, you must be in the
right position. Good heading is important in defences,
too. Jackie Charlton is a leading example of a fine
heading defender and you must all have seen the way he
joins the forward line when Leeds take a corner. I had
taken a leaf out of his book for I join defence when a
corner is awarded against the Albion.
In my view, the finest
headers of the ball in the English League are two
Welshman. Ron Davies of Southampton and Wyn Davies of
Newcastle United. They are lethal in the penalty area and
I only wish they could have been with us in Mexico. I
think it is a pity that great players such as Ron and
Wyn, Billy Bremner and George Best have to forgo the
opportunity to show their skills to the world because
they come from different parts of the British Isles.
Of all the goals I have
scored in my career - a career that began with Notts
County in 1962 - the one remember most was scored in the
FA Cup final at Wembley in 1968, when Albion beat Everton
1 - 0 . It's been shown on TV many times since then and
each time I see it, I re-live the thrill of that goal
again. When I am watching at home in West Bromwich with
my wife, Laraine, she gets just as excited as she did at
Wembley. She is an avid football fan and very patient
when you consider the time I am away from home.
That cup goal was not a
classic in the true sense. Two minutes into extra-time I
recovered the ball from Doug Fraser, now Albion's
skipper. I shrugged off a tackle and took shot at goal,
but the ball hit Brian Labone bounced back towards me. I
made no mistake this time and whipped the ball past
Gordon West. That goalmouth seemed miles away it always
does! It is funny because when I look at an empty pitch
with the nets at each end, it seems to be a great,
yawning chasm. But I can assure you that when the persons
of Gordon Banks and Alex Stepney stand on guard - or any
of the other great keepers - that goalmouth takes on an
entirely different perspective.
But " straight for
goal" is going to be my motto at more than ever this
season. I would dearly like to help Albion achieve an
outstanding ambition - to win the leadership of Division
One. It's goals that count in the championship race. My
head and my feet will be busy trying to achieve the
ultimate in perfection that any forward - the thrill of
seeing the ball in the back of the net!
Further links on this
See Jeff's Obituary
Jeff's death, see November 2002
Shirt swapped by
Jeff sells at Christies, see March 2004
At West Bromwich
Albion's Hawthorns there are the 'Jeff Astle Memorial
Gates', see Statues
For further links ...
See the story of the
message 'Astle is King' at wbaunofficial.com - Astle is