Jump to content

Recommended Posts

Just head the sad news that Paul Astley has passed away.

Here is the blog I have written today - many Rovers fans will remember away-days he organised as long as they live

Some sad news today, a pal rang to tell me that Paul "Gaz" Astley, who was 53, died yesterday.

Anyone of my vintage will remember Paul as the organiser of the anarchic "Accy Branch" coaches to away games from the late '70's onwards.

If you never met him chances are you have seen him at away games he was a thick-set lad, looked a bit like Sylvester Stallone.

He later became involved with the club's official away travel and was a colleague of mine at North West Gas for years before forming his own travel company.

There will be few people who've put in as many miles and hours as Paul following Rovers, home and abroad, both competitive games and long-forgotten friendlies in the wilds of Sweden and such.

I first met him in January 1978, myself and a mate from Lancaster Uni had hitched down to Ninian Park, Cardiff and completely fluked a lift down with Bill Fox, Rovers' chairman later if not then.

Bill couldn't run us back so after meeting Paul on the car park we managed a lift to Stafford, where he was studying, before eventually arriving at my mum and dad's in the early hours of Sunday.

Mention of Stafford will cause a smile for anyone who ever came back from away games down south on a Paul Astley trip - local landlords would beam as we emerged from the coach after a hiding at Swansea or somewhere with a few quid to spend on drowning our sorrows.

The camaraderie and fun we had on those excursions was incomparable, the length and breadth of England on the Aspden's Coaches, no toilets or tellies, looking on enviously as John Pittard's more lavishly-appointed Viscount Central fancy dans overtook us, or more likely, passed us while broke down on the hard shoulder.

I actually met my wife on one of Paul's coaches, to Exeter I think in 1980. I was 21, she was 15, but there was a brief neo-romance, a date to a Jam gig at the Guildhall in 1981, then we went separate ways before meeting by chance again in 2002 and both realising we had wasted a lot of time in between with the wrong people!

Later that year, we went on Paul's trip to Sofia, Bulgaria to watch Rovers and in the hotel reception Paul handed us the keys to Room 100.

We walked down a long corridor to a room right at the end and opened it up to find the most amazing suite we will ever stay in - two bathrooms, goodness knows how many beds, a full dining table, luxury of the kind we would probably never ordinarily afford.

We bought cheap champagne and wine and beer and even threw a pre-match reception on the afternoon of the CSKA match.

I never got to ask Paul whether he had given us that room particularly as two of his oldest "clients" but I like to think it was a little gesture to Lesley in particular, who would close her eyes and cover her ears as drunken lads peed into buckets on many a Saturday in the Howard Kendall era.

So really, I owe the fact that I am married to just as big a Rovers nut as me, and our happy marriage and family, to Paul's enterprises. As a bunch of young fans we shared the 1980 promotion triumph and the following year's crushing near-miss (the Bristol Rovers match as PNE collapsed to Swansea) with the inevitable "win or lose we'll shift some booze " philosophy of youth.

There will be an empty seat at Goodison and at Ewood for the rest of the season and Rovers have lost an unswervingly loyal fan as many of us have lost a dear old pal.

Sleep easy, Paul.

Link to post
Share on other sites
  • Replies 77
  • Created
  • Last Reply

Top Posters In This Topic

Top Posters In This Topic

Popular Posts

Just merging the two topics we have. Below is the opening post for the now closed thread

I've no idea whether he's been ill, friends, I just got a couple of calls this morning out of the blue telling me the sad news.

Someone posted yesterday about the old Garner, Keeley, Faz days and my happiest memories of those times are riding up and down motorways to and from matches as a daft young fella along with a lot more daft young amd not-so-young fellas and a very, very small number of females who were prepared to endure the most apalling behaviour and hygiene from us to watch their team.

I was delighted that when we clinched the title at Anfield, another of the veterans from those campaigns, Dunc Cornwall, was quite by chance in the next seat.

It was like "we paid our dues for this, didn't we mate?" as we hugged each other in tears.

Whatever happens there'll never be camaraderie and sheer exhilartion to match those days, and the "Ossy Blues" coach trips Eddie Grant put on a few years later.

Paul was the trailblazer though and those mornings hauling yourself to Knuzden to get picked up with a bag of butties and a few cans of Skol Lager can never be repeated.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Good grief, totally shocked and saddened at this. Paul had been going to the JJB gym in town now called DW, and was building his body up nicely with the weights, cant believe hes dead he seemed Ok when I used to chat to him about Rovers.

This is the guy who had the travel agents up on Glenfield park 2.

Link to post
Share on other sites

bloody hell,shocked.Known him since i was 15 and we used to walk to chorley to book on his coaches for away games. As someone said he was going dw gym ,i was talking to him there 2 weeks ago.

speechless.

Link to post
Share on other sites

great bloke, goodness I have seen him at matches for years and years, especially enjoyed our away days from Leyland in the mid 70's and 80's and always bumping into Paul at grounds across the UK.

Top bloke, sad news, he deserves a good send off.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Just head the sad news that Paul Astley has passed away.

Here is the blog I have written today - many Rovers fans will remember away-days he organised as long as they live

Some sad news today, a pal rang to tell me that Paul "Gaz" Astley, who was 53, died yesterday.

Anyone of my vintage will remember Paul as the organiser of the anarchic "Accy Branch" coaches to away games from the late '70's onwards.

If you never met him chances are you have seen him at away games he was a thick-set lad, looked a bit like Sylvester Stallone.

He later became involved with the club's official away travel and was a colleague of mine at North West Gas for years before forming his own travel company.

There will be few people who've put in as many miles and hours as Paul following Rovers, home and abroad, both competitive games and long-forgotten friendlies in the wilds of Sweden and such.

I first met him in January 1978, myself and a mate from Lancaster Uni had hitched down to Ninian Park, Cardiff and completely fluked a lift down with Bill Fox, Rovers' chairman later if not then.

Bill couldn't run us back so after meeting Paul on the car park we managed a lift to Stafford, where he was studying, before eventually arriving at my mum and dad's in the early hours of Sunday.

Mention of Stafford will cause a smile for anyone who ever came back from away games down south on a Paul Astley trip - local landlords would beam as we emerged from the coach after a hiding at Swansea or somewhere with a few quid to spend on drowning our sorrows.

The camaraderie and fun we had on those excursions was incomparable, the length and breadth of England on the Aspden's Coaches, no toilets or tellies, looking on enviously as John Pittard's more lavishly-appointed Viscount Central fancy dans overtook us, or more likely, passed us while broke down on the hard shoulder.

I actually met my wife on one of Paul's coaches, to Exeter I think in 1980. I was 21, she was 15, but there was a brief neo-romance, a date to a Jam gig at the Guildhall in 1981, then we went separate ways before meeting by chance again in 2002 and both realising we had wasted a lot of time in between with the wrong people!

Later that year, we went on Paul's trip to Sofia, Bulgaria to watch Rovers and in the hotel reception Paul handed us the keys to Room 100.

We walked down a long corridor to a room right at the end and opened it up to find the most amazing suite we will ever stay in - two bathrooms, goodness knows how many beds, a full dining table, luxury of the kind we would probably never ordinarily afford.

We bought cheap champagne and wine and beer and even threw a pre-match reception on the afternoon of the CSKA match.

I never got to ask Paul whether he had given us that room particularly as two of his oldest "clients" but I like to think it was a little gesture to Lesley in particular, who would close her eyes and cover her ears as drunken lads peed into buckets on many a Saturday in the Howard Kendall era.

So really, I owe the fact that I am married to just as big a Rovers nut as me, and our happy marriage and family, to Paul's enterprises. As a bunch of young fans we shared the 1980 promotion triumph and the following year's crushing near-miss (the Bristol Rovers match as PNE collapsed to Swansea) with the inevitable "win or lose we'll shift some booze " philosophy of youth.

There will be an empty seat at Goodison and at Ewood for the rest of the season and Rovers have lost an unswervingly loyal fan as many of us have lost a dear old pal.

Sleep easy, Paul.

Awesome report and my thoughts are with his family.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Like Abbey I have known Paul since I was 14yrs old and travelling away from Chorley. Most of the Wheelton lads will also know him from old.

Its a sad day for his family and closest friends and I very much echo the sentiments posted by fellow supporters on this site.

Rest in peace Paul. Have a chat with Uncle Jack and watch over us as we strive to survive this season.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Very shocked and saddened by this news.

Like others have commented, Paul and away games used to be synonymous in the 80's.

When a Preston branch of the supporters club was formed in the mid 80's I remember Paul driving to Preston to pick myself and another guy up so we could get the coach from Blackburn to Crystal Palace.

I also used the special trains he organized and I remember he used to heat the pies in the guard's quarters!

Rest in peace.

Edited by martonrover
Link to post
Share on other sites

From around 1982 ish on wards I used to go to The Townley Arms on a Wednesday night on Park Road Chorley every other week to get my coach ticket for the following Saturdays away trip. As was mentioned already, the coaches were a little less sophisticated back then, but the price was right. Paul was there week in and week out, and went out of his way to make sure as many people as possible could and would go to watch Rovers anywhere in the country.

The main memory I have of Paul is on the night of the Carlisle train crash (For more details click here. As I mentioned in that earlier thread, I have a lasting image of Paul going head first through a glass plate, and emerging bloodied and battered on the other side. His actions that night, along with the steward (whose name I forget) in making sure everybody got as far away as possible from the front of the train before it hit the stationary Loco probably saved a number of peoples lives.

The last time I saw him was at Man City away this season. Rovers are a poorer club without him, we seem to be developing a bad habit of losing these kind of people lately.

Condolences to all his friends and family.

Link to post
Share on other sites

From around 1982 ish on wards I used to go to The Townley Arms on a Wednesday night on Park Road Chorley every other week to get my coach ticket for the following Saturdays away trip. As was mentioned already, the coaches were a little less sophisticated back then, but the price was right. Paul was there week in and week out, and went out of his way to make sure as many people as possible could and would go to watch Rovers anywhere in the country.

The main memory I have of Paul is on the night of the Carlisle train crash (For more details click here. As I mentioned in that earlier thread, I have a lasting image of Paul going head first through a glass plate, and emerging bloodied and battered on the other side. His actions that night, along with the steward (whose name I forget) in making sure everybody got as far away as possible from the front of the train before it hit the stationary Loco probably saved a number of peoples lives.

The last time I saw him was at Man City away this season. Rovers are a poorer club without him, we seem to be developing a bad habit of losing these kind of people lately.

Condolences to all his friends and family.

I was in that crash and had been sitting right at the front of the train during the journey prior to the incident.

It put me off trains for a while but I'm now learning to be a train driver in London.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Very shocked and saddened by this news.

Like others have commented, Paul and away games used to be synonymous in the 80's.

When a Preston branch of the supporters club was formed in the mid 80's I remember Paul driving to Preston to pick myself and another guy up so we could get the coach from Blackburn to Crystal Palace.

I also used the special trains he organized and I remember he used to heat the pies in the guard's quarters!

Rest in peace.

palace game i rember that ,there was a mash up with coaches and we all went by train? or was that charlton.did you go in a mini bus? that may have been palace.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

Loading...

×
×
  • Create New...

Important Information

We have placed cookies on your device to help make this website better. You can adjust your cookie settings, otherwise we'll assume you're okay to continue.