Premier League: West Brom to change kit in to honour launch of Jeff Astle Foundation
West Bromwich Albion will pay a memorable and lasting tribute to legendary striker Jeff Astle with an historic kit change for the Premier League clash against Leicester City on April 11.
The Baggies will don a 2015 replica of the famous white 1968 Wembley strip in which their former centre forward enjoyed his most iconic Albion moment and scored the FA Cup Final winner.
The change of strip will be the high point of “Astle Day” when a Foundation in Jeff’s name is launched by his family which will promote care of other sufferers and research and education into CTE (Chronic traumatic encephalopathy).
He passed away from the disease at the age of just 59 in 2002.
The club have agreed to auction the one-off kit to raise funds for the Foundation as part of its pledge to dedicate a home game to the much loved goal-scorer.
Given a choice of fixtures, Jeff’s widow Laraine and daughters Dawn and Claire plumped for the visit of Leicester City remembering the Foxes provided the opposition on Jeff’s Albion 50 years ago.
Chairman Jeremy Pearce said: “We promised at the start of the season to honour both Jeff and his family’s efforts to raise awareness of an important issue by dedicating a home game to him - and it promises to be a special day."
“We are absolutely delighted the Premier League have granted permission for this kit change as an additional salute to a footballer who remains much loved."
“We are mindful that it is only the second time this has happened which I think says much about Jeff’s standing and the gravity football places on the issues his death raised."
“The one minute ovations for Jeff and the ‘if in doubt, sit it out’ campaign this season have been well supported by fans up and down the country and now the launch of the Foundation gives a new impetus to the family’s efforts.
“There is a need to support the research required to understand more about the issues the Astle family have fought so hard to raise.
“I hope that on April 11, Jeff’s old club will be seen to be honouring a promise and helping them. He would have wanted that.”
Speaking on behalf of her family, Jeff’s daughter Claire said: “I would like to take this opportunity to give our heartfelt thanks to the Chairman and everyone associated with West Bromwich Albion Football Club for their support and dedication with regard to ‘Astle Day.’
“‘Astle Day’ will no doubt be an incredible and memorable occasion, made even more special with the launch of The Jeff Astle Foundation - a fitting tribute and lasting legacy in dad's name, to raise awareness of brain injury in sport and to offer the much needed support to those affected."
“We would also like to take this opportunity to thank the FA and PFA for their continued understanding and efforts in addressing this very important issue."
“On a final note, the support we have received from football fans across the country has been phenomenal. None more so than from West Bromwich Albion supporters. Without their love and devotion for dad, none of this would have been possible.
“Dad would be so very proud.”
And FA chairman Greg Dyke, who has met with the family to discuss their campaign, said: “I am delighted to see West Bromwich Albion dedicate this day to their great hero, Jeff Astle. I know a few West Brom fans and I know how much Jeff meant to them and with how much regard they still hold him – you only need to see the reaction to the Justice for Jeff campaign to understand that."
“I think the Astle family’s dedication to their father and husband is inspiring and the idea of an Astle Foundation is important. I know we at The FA are now progressing positively with an expert panel to look at head injuries and we remain committed to ensuring the notion of research in this important area of sports medicine is taken to the highest levels at UEFA and FIFA.”