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When our Jeff was a famous footballer

By Black Country Bugle  |  Posted: August 16, 2014

By Dan Shaw

Jeff Astle in the late '60s

Jeff Astle in the late '60s

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DO you remember collecting these soccer souvenirs in the late '60s?

Albion great Jeff Astle graces the cover of Famous Footballers No.4, a pocket-sized, 3" x 4" booklet issued for the 1968-69 season.

This set of six Football Monthly mini-books were published by Longacre Press and Odhams Books at one shilling each and inside had 22 pictures of the top footballers of the day.

The little books have been loaned to us by Peter Hill of West Bromwich, who bought them with his pocket money when he was a young, died-in-the-wool Albion fan.

Our Jeff, scorer of the winning goal in the 1968 FA Cup final, was in exalted company, chosen as a cover star of the series, an accolade he shared with George Best, surely the biggest celebrity player of the day, 1966 World Cup heroes Martin Peters and Bobby Charlton, Wyn Davies of Wales and Newcastle United, and Liverpool's Roger Hunt.

Midlands players of the day to appear inside the books were Barry Bridges, Colin Green and Trevor Hockey (Blues); Eddie Colquhoun, Campbell Crawford (mistakenly named as Ian Collard), Bobby Hope and Ronnie Rees (Albion); and Alun Evans and David Woodfield (Wolves). Interestingly, no Villa players were chosen to appear in the series.

Albion's 1968-69 season got off to an ominous start with a 6-1 thrashing at the hands of Manchester City in the Charity Shield. To be fair to the Baggies, goalkeeper John Osborne went off injured and was replaced by defender Graham Williams. Albion finished the season in 10th place, with Jeff Astle scoring 21 league goals and two apiece in the FA Cup and League Cup runs.

Were any of these famous players your hero? Share your football memories and memorabilia, please contact dshaw@blackcountrybugle.co.uk or write to us at 41 High Street, Cradley Heath, B64 5HL.

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