CULCHER – Return to the forbidden planet, Regent Theatre, Hanley.

Posted on March 23rd, 2015 by



Based on Shakespeare’s The Tempest, musical spectacular Return to the Forbidden Planet has something for everyone: witty dialogue, rock ‘n’ roll classics and affectionate nods to a variety of science fiction classics.

The set was reminiscent of Dr Who’s trusty tardis and Prospero, played by Jonathan Markwood, bore a striking resemblance to the sixth Doctor, Colin Baker. His deep, booming voice, meanwhile, was reminiscent of the late, great War of the Worlds narrator Richard Burton. Along with numerous Star Trek references, there was even a nod to the nineties space sitcom, Red Dwarf, thanks to a Kryton- esque robotic character (Joseph Mann) who ably embodied the character of Ariel.

The cast themselves were phenomenally talented. Their ability to switch from instrument to instrument was truly amazing, but they paled into insignificance compared to the amazing Mark Newnham, who played the hopelessly romantic chef, Cookie. The highlight of the whole production was his amazing guitar solo of The Zombies’ 1964 hit She’s Not There, which took a slight detour through Nirvana’s iconic Smells Like Teen Spirit. Simply jaw dropping and definitely a performance to make the show’s narrator, albeit through the power of technology, Brian May, extremely proud!

In short, if you fancy a trip through the golden era of popular culture, this Olivier award winning musical is a must.

Live long and Prospero!


Posted on March 12th, 2015 by



Alright folks…

Issue 14 is back from the printers and is a bit mint to be honest.

It’s available in print PLUS in pdf digital format so there’s no reason why you can’t read it conspicuously in the pub, at half-time, on the train/bus, settee, chip shop….you get the picture.


So what’s in it?

Bolton semi 5-0 Semi Final Special

From cradle to the grave

What becomes of the broken hearted

Once in a lifetime


Where do you go to, my lovely

breaking bad in Burslem

reading newspapers from the back

Red and white stars and stripes

The Bratwurst Club

……and tons more!

Mar First tarm


Posted on March 12th, 2015 by


We ran this article before our 2-0 win at The Brit and are more than happy to do so again after being contacted by Jeff’s daughter.

Nine minutes into Saturday’s game a large banner will be unveiled opposite the away end reading ‘Justice for Jeff’ which starts a minute’s applause – nine being the famous shirt number our dad wore. The two big screens at The Hawthorns will also display a picture of Jeff with the words ‘If in doubt, sit them out’ which refers to the dangers of concussion in sport.

Stoke fans (as they did so marvellously at the last game of the 2013/14 season) are more than welcome to join in with the applause if they choose, for which we would be very grateful for, maybe taking the opportunity to remember the late, great John Ritchie who also sadly died from dementia.

The Justice for Jeff banner has been at every West Bromwich Albion home and away game and will continue to be for the rest of this season. Hopefully by then, the promised research 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 other 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 – this information is vitally important to forthcoming research. Our dad was the first British footballer to have been confirmed to die from CTE but he wouldn’t of been the first and certainly won’t be the last.

You can keep up-to-date and learn more about our campaign by visiting our website or our Facebook and Twitter pages.

Yours Sincerely,

The Astle Family


The ‘Justice for Jeff’ campaign is dedicated to our dad, Jeff Astle, 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”.


Following this landmark ruling the Football Association (FA) and Professional Footballers’ Association (PFA) promised to conduct a ten-year joint study into DBD and the medical links associated with head trauma through heading footballs. Thirteen years on, this research has never been concluded or published.

After learning about the FA/PFA and their lack of, well, anything, we 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 (CTE). 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 over 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 establishing a charity in dad’s name, ‘The Jeff Astle Foundation’, with 3 principle aims…

  1. SUPPORT – for those in sport 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 quite often get asked “what justice do you want”? Well justice is a powerful word, with many meanings and concepts. The administration of law, reward or penalty as deserved, impartiality, fairness, the quality of being right or correct, to name just a few. The concept of “Justice” in The Justice for Jeff Campaign is again, powerful yet simple. It’s fighting for what is right and fair and importantly, righting wrongs. And make no mistake there have been many wrongs or injustices following the death of our dad, and we make no apologies for doing whatever we can to fight for him, whenever we can, however we can.

We want acknowledgement of what happened to our dad so as to be able to make a difference for those, unlike dad, that 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. We want answers. We need to know. Football needs to know.

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.

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”.

If we could leave you with one final thought it would be that our dad was an ordinary, working class man with an exceptional talent. He was a hero to many but more importantly he was a husband, a father and a grandfather.

Kind Regards

Dawn Astle

 The Justice For Jeff Astle Campaign



Trainer Potter #2 Saucony Fresh Picked

Posted on March 1st, 2015 by


Trainer Potter

#2 Saucony Fresh Picked

It’s not often that you can say training shoes are part of your ‘5 a day’, despite them being in essence so essential for getting and staying fit and enjoying sport and exercise. But those clever folk at Saucony have managed it, and in doing so produced what I think are the best trainers I’ve seen in quite a while.

Their new ‘Shadow 5000 Fresh Picked’ trainers were only released a month ago, amidst a smart PR campaign that saw the two new colourways photographed amongst loads of fruit.

“Crikey, have they gone bananas?” said those of an aversion-to-making-funny-puns-but-have-a-go-at-it-anyway.

Well, no, they haven’t. Both trainers simply have berry-inspired colourways that are absolutely gorgeous. Saucony know their onions, and with over a century of producing quality footwear have used their classic and truly grape (sorry) Shadow silhouette and given it a fruity twist.

The colours?

Well one is a vibrant blue(berry) with dashes of turquoise and black, whilst the other has a purple-based look with a liberal dose of black and grey. The result are beautifully stylish and functional trainers with suede uppers and a breathable mesh toe cap, and with spec such as leather detailing, woven tongue patch, a rubber outsole and full/half sizings.

If the above doesn’t dangle the carrot in front of those that are looking for a new pair of sneakers, then it’s lime I called it a day.

*gets coat*