Nine minutes into Sunday’s game, Albion fans will unveil a large banner reading ‘Justice for Jeff’ (Astle) which starts a minute’s applause – nine being the famous shirt number he wore.
Stoke fans are more than welcome to join in with the applause if they choose to; we was extremely grateful and overwhelmed with the support they gave during our ‘Astle 9’ card campaign back in May; but if not we would like to give them the opportunity to make them aware of our campaign if they haven’t seen it via the local or national media already.
The Justice for Jeff banner will be at every West Bromwich Albion home and away game for the rest of this season. Hopefully, by then, the promised research by the FA & PFA into the links between heading footballs and brain damage will be in its early stages and, just as importantly, the research into former players and instances of dementia will have commenced.
We would also like to respectfully ask that if you are aware of any former players who may have died of, or are sadly living with Alzheimer’s or any other Degenerative Brain Disease please contact us by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org – this information is vitally important to forthcoming research.
You can keep up-to-date and learn more about our campaign by visiting our website justiceforjeff.co.uk or through our Facebook (facebook.com/
The Astle Family
ABOUT THE CAMPAIGN
The ‘Justice for Jeff’ campaign is dedicated to our dad Jeff Astle and the countless number of former football players who have died of degenerative brain disease (DBD), and former players and their families who are suffering from the consequences of DBD.
Jeff Astle died at the age of 59 on 19th January 2002.
In November that year we attended the Coroners Court. A leading pathologist stood and described how badly damaged dad’s brain was. He found that there was considerable evidence of trauma to his brain that was similar to the brain of a boxer. He said the main candidate for the trauma was heading a heavy ball and it was the repeated trauma that appeared to be the problem. H.M Coroner, Andrew Haigh, ruled “Mr Astle’s type of dementia was entirely consistent with heading a ball and the occupational exposure has made at least a significant contribution to the disease which had caused his death”.
Verdict – INDUSTRIAL DISEASE.
Following this landmark ruling the Football Association (FA) and Professional Footballers’ Asscociation (PFA) promised to conduct a ten-year joint study into DBD and the medical links associated with head trauma through heading footballs. Twelve years on, this research has never been concluded or published.
After learning about the FA/PFA and their lack of, well, anything, I contacted a Consultant Neuropathologist based in Glasgow, called Dr. Willie Stewart. Dr. Stewart is one of the World’s Leading Experts in a disease called Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy. It’s not a new disease, it’s just got a new name. It’s “dementia pugilistica”, “punch drunk syndrome”, or “boxers brain”. The disease has actually been around for nigh on 100 years. CTE had been found in the brains of former NFL players. It is a degenerative brain disease caused by multiple concussions or, as we now know, in dad’s case, low level repeated brain trauma.
Following his death, Dad’s brain was donated for brain research, it was something dad believed in. We gave Dr. Stewart permission to re-examine dad’s brain to look for evidence of CTE. Dad was originally diagnosed as having dementia/early onset Alzheimer’s. Could they have got it wrong? They had. Dad didn’t have Alzheimer’s. He was now the first ever British Professional Footballer to have died of Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy. Dad died of repeated blows to the head, the type caused by heading a football… just as the Coroner had ruled nearly 12 years ago. The question is – how many others?
So what are our objectives?
On a personal level, acknowledgement from the game about what killed our dad.
Looking ahead – to create a legacy for past, current and future generations of footballers. We are hoping to establish a charity in dad’s name, ‘The Jeff Astle Foundation’, with 3 principle aims…
1. SUPPORT – for those in football and their families who have had similar experiences to us, or who are still living with dementia. Dad’s story has had renewed attention over the past 5 months. We have been contacted by families of former players with dementia all with need of support. While we have done what we can to support them, there is a need to put into place a more robust system.
2. EDUCATION – head injury in sport and its associated immediate and long term risks is a major public health issue, but one for which there is little or no awareness in sport, education, health and allied agencies, never mind public awareness. We would like to see consistent, clear and robust information on aspects of all head injury management, including CTE, and see this information disseminated effectively.
3. INDEPENDENT RESEARCH – this is a complex and fast moving field and one where there are international experts in research in brain injury positioned to lead. It might be argued that sports agencies, including the FA/ PFA have been guilty of trying to take on research in this highly complex issue, in this highly complex organ ‘in house’, and through their own sponsored research. Invariably, this has failed to deliver its stated aims, as in dad’s case, and /or generated accusations of bias. We support Independent Research.
We are not going away, ever. How can you ever give up on something that you can’t go a day without thinking about?
This is about acknowledgement of what has happened. So as to be able to make a difference for those, unlike dad, it’s not too late for. Those already suffering as he did and those who are, or maybe, a ticking time bomb for the future.
No amount of money or compensation can bring our dad back. It is NOT about that. Money may be the first language of modern football and its authorities, it’s not the be all and end all to everyone.
What we do want is answers. Answers with regard to what killed dad, what may have happened to others like him, and what may be happening, or about to happen, to others? We need to know. Football needs to know.
For too long this issue has been the silent scandal of sport, possibly thousands of former players and their families suffering grievously from damage caused by the game they loved.
As a footballer you can expect to get knocks, perhaps ligament damage and even trouble with arthritis later in life, you don’t expect to die of brain damage at 59.
Football should not, and must not, be allowed to shy away from confronting what is an uncomfortable and unsettling reality. The whole game should be united in wanting “Justice for Jeff “.
DUCK Magazine is proud to support The Peace Collective and All Together Now 2014. I remember as a lad at uni ballooning about various Swansea sick-filled dancefloors to The Farm’s iconic single. It’s always had that timeless feel to it, and the sentiment behind it is not lost on Stoke City who often play it at The Brit after a home defeat.
One of the very best things about doing DUCK magazine, apart from the groupies obviously, is the chance to meet absolutely fantastic folk. We’ve done so of supporters ranging from Stoke to Newcastle and from Aberdeen to Plymouth. One person who has supported the magazine is Peter Hooton. lead singer of The Farm and all-round sound bloke. We met him at Anfield a fortnight ago, and we said we’d try and support The Peace Collective. Well, as best we could.
We’re not supporting it because he quite likes our mag; we’re doing it because we think its right to do so. And we are proud to do so.
The 2014 version features young aspiring footballer from this country and Germany, and, well, let’s leave The Farm’s Keith Mullin to describe what it’s all about….
Whilst any monies made will go to charity, being compared to other records out there is a little disingenuous to those involved in making this record (who fully understand what this record is about) & the truce soldiers of WW1.
Sorry, but All Together Now 2014 is more than a charity record, the song is and always has been an anti-war song, The Peace Collective are promoting a message (hence the name), we repeat that message daily. The Farm have been repeating it for the last 25-years. This song commemorates peace & those that chose not to fight on Christmas day 1914. It’s a tribute to those brave souls, English & German ordinary folk, who found they had more in common with each other than the aristocracy who sent them there to die.
All Together Now exists because of that moment Christmas day 1914, one of humanities greatest ever stories. I struggle to imagine the bravery of those men taking that first step into no man’s land, who were not only at risk of being shot by their supposed enemy, they risked being executed by their own country for fraternizing with that enemy. A spirit stronger than war was at work that night, humanity at its best in my opinion.
With that in mind there’s a lot humanity can learn from those men on Christmas day 1914, that’s the message, that story is used now to educate and long may it continue. We’ve tried to keep it alive for 25-years enshrined in a song, you can do more with music than just making money, we can question & educate, demonstrate & challenge, therefore this is not just a charity record!
We do not want money from this, however a consequence of selling records is that, if you sell enough, the record makes money. We do not want that money so we decided to give whatever monies are made to The Red Cross, who are normally the first in any war zone /global tragedy clearing up the mess governments make and The Shorncliffe Trust who are trying to keep the memory of this event alive!!
Be under no illusion as to why we are doing this!
Maybe that’s why radio isn’t playing this record as much as it should, and some just want to pigeon hole it as just another Charity Record..”
December 1st: 15.41
Orfy makes his way onto platform 1, Stoke station. “Got time to get a coffee to take on board?”
Five minutes or so later the train pulls in, and we enter carriage B, and spot our seats. £37 isn’t bad for a London return, and with guaranteed seats it was an hour and a half of us two ed’s actually being able to have a decent chat about the magazine. Snatched phone calls and crap text message are usually the communications de jour, and so it was nice to have a natter about the previous eighteen months and also the future.
Whilst proud of the magazine, and how it has been received, we needed to reach more folk. We felt our ace writers deserved to have their stuff read by ore folk. My dream is for the mag to be a bigger part of my future and to spend more time on it to make it as good as it could be. And so the journey to London was unique: we normally catch the train to watch Stoke there and have a few beers, balloon about, and try to forget the working week.
Growing up, eh? Bloody hell!
At 5.20pm we pulled into Euston. Those first few steps onto the platform always gives me a rush. I don’t think I’ll ever tire of visiting London. Some hate it. I don’t.
We made our way through the onrushing throng of totally miserable looking folk: some sprinting, most looking like they simply hated life.
“*******! I’ve left my coat on the train”. And so Orfy jogged back to platform 16 where hopefully the train was still parked up. It was, but it gave me the chance to take the Twitter-mick out of him and his best Lonsdale gear which was retweeted to Virgin trains who, rather amusingly, got straight in touch with me! In fairness, ace customer service for a £9.79 coat!
Oh, and I also saw Emma Willis from TV in the station. And yes, her eyes are THAT gorgeous.
Orfy’s poorly leg, done in a 5-a-side, made the five minute walk from Euston to St Pancras drag like, er, Orfy’s leg actually. We eventually got there at 5.45pm to be greeted by the sight of a hotel you only see in far posher magazines than ours. The Renaissance, St Pancras,is simply a stunning-looking building.
And so we checked in with a young lady holding a FSF clipboard and were taken up the staircase that was apparently used in Spice Girl’s ‘Wannabe’ video, to the most elegant of conference rooms.
Two Stoke lads, in the middle of London, with a complimentary hotel bar in front of them!
As you well know, I have the Andrex touch when it comes to luck and circumstance, and we couldn’t really drink as our cars were waiting back for us at Stoke station. Not for us, staying over and getting trolleyed, like most of the other folk there. Oh no, we were booked on the 11pm rattler back to God’s Country. Out rock ‘n roll THAT!
Eventually, the great and the good arrived and we had a good natter with the lads from United We Stand fanzine – and in fairness, all were good, sound lads who love their club. We’ve had a beer with a few before. Indeed, one lad hadn’t missed a Euro away since 1991 – whatever the club, that’s some effort. He must have a) an ace wife or, b) no wife!
We were eventually shepherded down to where the awards were taking place – quite simply a wow of a room that had been built on/out of an old platform at the station. We felt a bit like, er, Stoke lads at a posh awards do, as we plonked ourselves down on our table which featured Crewe’s liaison officer and Amanda Jacks from the FSF (both really sound). Sam Wallace from the Independent hadn’t turned up – shame that, until we nabbed his pudding, obviously. You can take the lads out of….etc…etc…blah..blah….
The starter was smoked salmon and a quail’s egg with caviar. “Waiter, this egg’s off mate”, didn’t go down too well, unlike the top notch plonk that was being shovelled down by everyone else in the room, especially by the lads from Leeds, Doncaster, Manchester United, and Sunderland fanzines – all staying over in the capital that night.
The first award was for Player of the Year. Funnily enough it was won by Sergio Aguero as he was both, a) the best player in the league last year and b) the only nominated player that was there that night.
Aguero made his way past us, probably dying to ask us how sales of issue 11 had gone at Anfield 48 hours beforehand. He collected his award, with his interpreter informing everyone that “DUCK bobble hats were available in green and grey”* and were struck by how tiny the bloke is. Indeed, his bodyguard was Cliff Carr!
The main course was beef and was decent enough but not in the same league as the starter: it was proper Alexis Sanchez compared to Bojan fodder! However, the break did give me the chance to act like a kid and interrupt Aguero’s evening and get him to sign issue 11 for my lad whose birthday it was the next day (honestly!!!!).
We also had the opportunity to natter to Stoke’s liaison officer, Anthony Emmerson. We say as we see, and what we saw was a really decent bloke and one who we’ll be interviewing soon to drill into, to ascertain what he can do for our supporters and what his role is.
The superb James Richardson (BT Sport/Football Italia etc) was hosting, and as the throng settled after various toilet visits and vino requests, it was the Fanzine of the Year Award time.
Whilst trying hard not to accept our fate like a TP ‘”bonus” away game, we knew we wouldn’t win. Winning for us was being nominated and shortlisted in the first place (this after we sent a pile of mags off to be judged by the FSF), as we were up against magazines that sell in thousands and thousands, and also have social media followings that Piers Morgan would dream of. All are ace mags, mind.
Leeds’ excellent The Square Ball won. We were happy for them. Indeed, so rare is it that they get some good footballing news in that part of West Yorkshire that one of their lads actually fell backwards off the stage! No one saw mate. Really.
The last award of the night saw Stoke adding silverware to the likes of The League Cup; The Watney Cup; Autoglass Trophy; AutoWindscreen Shield; and Crouch’s missus winning Strictly Come Dancing last year. Anthony Emmerson looked suitable humbled as he made his way to shake hands with Mr Richardson as he collected the Liaison Officer of the Year Award, and in all honesty, absolutely nailed his acceptance speech. Indeed, it wasn’t a prepared speech as he answered Richardson’s questions with a passion and honesty of one of us, the rank and file. Impressive stuff.
All that was left was for me and Orfy to give out a few mags to the other fanzine lads, and to eventually give in to Messrs Richardson and Robbie Savage, whom had been pestering us all evening for a picture with our latest issue.
So, at 10.45pm, we walked out into the crisp, London air. Euston Road at that time was buzzing, as always, and the hotel looked simply breathtaking as we had one last look back on a great night.
Think God is a Stokie? Not quite: we sat ourselves down on the train at a table facing a solitary bloke on his Ipad. Five minutes into a two hour twenty minute journey we struck up a conversation with him. He was an Arsenal fan.
I hate life, sometimes.
*er, he possibly didn’t
I love reading about Stoke, everywhere, and because of the amount available on t’internet, there is plenty to go at. But it also means others, like me, can easily have their say as well.
There are many recurring themes of course, from team selection to the style of the club, through the ongoing development of SCFC as a Premeirship team. This weekend, between grinning like the cat with the cream, and between approx. 4.25 and 4.50pm, being unable to speak to my 7 year old Grandson (It was only his third game!) I was reminded of one other.
We never make it easy on ourselves do we? Whatever we achieve never comes easy and we are all made to suffer for our devotion.
On Saturday I was keeping my good friend who could not make the match for family commitments up to date via text messages. By halftime at 3-0 up my message added the letters OMG! With good reason and my mind immediately went back to a certain game in London when at 3-0 up I still could not allow myself to believe we had reached the cup final. Even at 5-0 I remember well watching the clock right up until injury time before I would allow myself to relax. On Saturday my friend replied with the magical words ‘Fingers crossed in second half’ I laughed, for a full fifteen minutes. Then!
During our time in the Premiership, we have won 53 home games to date out of 121 games. A massive 35, 65% have been won by the odd goal. With only 3 games by more than 2. Yes we do make it difficult and so it proved on Saturday with the smile wiped from my face from the moment the ref pointed to the spot for the penalty. In all honesty, the smile barely made it back at all after the start of the second half.
Victory of course was still sweet, always will be against Arsenal, always!
But I was reminded about us being hard to watch again and my mind went to the possible comments that would follow, the type you see all too often now when reading comments on the Stoke sites, which I often do during the week, but especially after a win – any win! It seems to me though that some take sweating over results to a new level. I will be honest, my love of reading about my club diminishes after a loss, but it is clear to see that for some a loss is the time to put pen to paper. I wondered if this, whilst finding it hard to accept, was linked and that the suffering has driven some to take out their pain through the written word. For me though, when we win, yes, I will talk, write and watch everything I can. But when we lose? Let me hide away for usually about three days, until I can start to look forward to the next game, that’s when I will reappear.
So I must question those who like to criticise, you know, the ones who insult everybody else’s opinion, with hatred central to their methods. Look at how JW has been called of late? Such clear venom, for me, should have no part to play in a Stoke supporter’s makeup. Look at JW again now? Now there is a player with determination! The insults will not have helped, his grit and desire will! No, I have quickly come to the opinion that being made to suffer for our results is not linked as I originally perceived to the right to complain. For one very simple reason – backbone!
You see, in my simple world, you need backbone to be able to follow our club. All of those narrow victories, the minutes we have watched with that slender 1 goal advantage willing the ref to blow that damn whistle! Well that takes backbone, lots of it. No doubt fed by the need for that feeling of hope and belonging that comes from victories in the Premiership (and of course fortified by several pints of whatever floats your particular boat!)
No, moaning about the club? I now realise, that’s exactly the opposite and I struggle to see the benefit, other than the ‘venting of ones spleen’ which I do see, but fail to understand why those who wish to partake, deem it reasonable to place their particular ‘spleen’ in front of everybody else!
No, complaining about tactics in general, the Manager and players in particular and the club as a whole is not for me, not just because an individual feels they know better. That’s just opinion and because the person ‘venting’ is not a Manager, Player or club official, well, that’s what confirms it as just an opinion. Very rarely are good points delivered (but then that’s my opinion!) and even if they are, do they really need to be delivered with such hatred?
And that’s the point really, not what is being said, but the manner in which it is said. Do we really need to have to insult each other with such hatred, just because we have differing opinions? Who benefits from the arguments? Not the club that’s for sure – indeed neither do the players, who of course bear the brunt of most ‘hate posts’ please somebody explain how insulting players ability and even there right to play for the club or play in the Premiership helps? Because I just do not see it. I do not know how Arnie will get his mojo back, we all know it exists and we all hope it is soon, but for sure, if he does read what is written about him, he will not be assisted one iota by the insults being handed out with abandon.
We know when players play badly, the players know as well. The Manager is the only person who can make the changes relative to what he sees, both on the pitch AND in training. That’s his job!!
We all get upset when we lose and that’s when we need to hold our nerve. Rely on our backbone, hold together. Very rarely has our club been run so well, achieved so much and promised even more. Surely we should be enjoying this time, not fighting between ourselves?
No, it has been a long time since there has been a need for open revolt at SCFC and long may it continue, And perhaps we should take a long hard look at how the Gooners looked on Saturday fighting amongst themselves and howling at their manager at Stoke station and just how that has been reported over the weekend.
I watched the videos and asked myself, what good does it do? Who benefits? You see, you can make your point without insult or abuse and then it becomes clear honest debate.
But the biggest benefit of all, for those of us who have the ability to promote the stiff upper lip approach, well we just have it better all-round don’t we? No Mr Angry in our closet, just the beauty of looking forward to the next game, with a happy demeanour and a straight back!
Close, but no cigar. Not that either of us smoke, but it was Leed’s ‘The square ball’ that won the Fanizne of the Year title at the St Pancras Renaissance Hotel.
Sods law: free ale and wine etc, and we are driving, but at least Robbie Savage and Sergio Aguero got to meet us.
Full report and pics in issu 12.