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Didn't know Paul personally but certainly knew who he was. I'm also 53 so we must have started watching the Rovers around the same time. I trawled the roads of England from Plymouth to Bristol, Leytonstone to Swindon, Stoke to Grimsby, Colchester to Carlisle and so on. Whichever away game I was at, Paul seemed to be there too. We also used his travel company (yes, on Glenfield Park) for the Ankara trip.

RIP :brfc:

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

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.

Palace was the first game of the '84-'85 season and I'm pretty sure it was a coach not a mini bus.

It was a train to Charlton much later that season when we were involved in our annual fight against promotion!

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Very sad news. Paul always seemed to be involved in arranging trips as far back as I have been travelling to matches. From Northwitch Victoria away ( pre-season friendly mid 80's) to Salzeburg away (UEFA Cup) Paul was the man who made it happen. The club seems to be losing a lot of it's constants at the moment. RIP Paul.

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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.

First to say what a great write up by the OP to convey such sad news. I remember him during the 80's, mainly just to say hello to. I had the "pleasure" of being on one of his stop offs in Stafford on the way back from Pompey.

I was also on the train that crashed, I was with my dad who was one of the worst injured. I remember him and the other steward running back and foward down the train. We shouldn't have been on the train, we had booked to go on the coach but there were only a few on it so we were moved on to the train.

Yet another link to the "Good Old Days" gone.

My thoughts go out to his family and friends, I'm sure he'll be watching Ewood from above.

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sometimes, things can take a while to sink in, this is one of those times. i found out shortly after i awoke from my sleep and now at work, 9hrs later....it is just starting to hit home. a huge sense of sadness has engulfed me, with my eyes filling with tears. i first met paul, on an away trip to stoke, i think back in the mid 80's. a very very genuine fella and a truely good friend for infinity. 9 years ago i needed a job, with only 150 quid to my name. i applied at pa travel, glenfield park. paul gave me a start in the tourism/hospitality industry and even though pa travel was the victim of some unscrupulous dealings by a few that will go 'unmentioned'.....i look back at my time there, with a smile and with grattitude to a man and a genuine friend. nobody can over estimate just how kind paul was.

i have had my fare share of troubles, in the years that i have known paul and without any prompting from me, he stepped in and offered help, in any way he could. i too have experianced some of rovers away trips into europe with paul, mainly because i worked for him and probably booked some of you on these trips. sofia was my favourite. talk about hilarity from the second the journey started.

his passion for his football team, was and always will be unwavering. there are probably other people that have travelled just as far to watch their team, but there really is only one paul astley.

thankyou paul for everything that you ever did for me, and thankyou for believing in me 9 years ago. bye bye mate :(

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Very very sad news indeed. Gaz was a good friend of mine. We went to St Andrews Junior school and Accy Grammar, a year ahead of me though. I lived near his house, his mum and dad's shop Me and me mates have many fond memories of him he used to drive us to most of the away games in the 70's when he was at Stafford Poly. Turned us on to the Sun in Stafford and a few other pubs where the students drank. ( For all the students antics we were the only people he knew to actually get barred from those establishments). In fact if it had not been for Gaz I would not have been to many of the away games I did. I remember going to Orient and his suspension dropping out while we were surrounded by Spurs fans and we had to come home on the back of AA truck. Pushing the Fiat 850 on to the motorway from the services on the way to Port Vale in our promotion season when we clinched it. Bloody GAz, we were pushing trying to bump start it and he just sat there expecting the car to somehow burst into life we were knackered and just about at the point were we had to merge before we educated him to actually let out the clutch, Ended up startin it going backwards. Bloody hell I've so many memories thanks to him. Sad sad news indeed. Without doubt a true Rover. RIP Gaz my good friend, you are gone too young.

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Shocked at the sad news.

Some nice tributes on here from people who have known Paul.

As I'm of the same era as Paul it brought back many memories of the time I knew him in the 70's.

Did not travel with him much as we went with a different tour director in John Pittard tours.

But you could always guarantee Paul would be close by booming out some Rovers songs, my ear drums have never been

the same since.

A true and loyal Blue & White who will be sadly missed, a rendition of there's only one Paul Astley at Everton !

Many Condolences to his family and friends.

RIP Paul

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RIP.

I too was on the love bus from Poland to Lithuania. Also booked through him to go to Greece and Portugal. Didn't know him personally but he seemed like a good bloke. Certainly saw him at every Rovers away game.

I might be wrong but i think he was involved in Junior Rovers. Anybody in there mid - late 20's like me will remember that from the early 90s. It involved footy coaching, going away games, and playing other club's junior teams.

Rovers stalwarts like him are few and far between

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We went on a pre-season, tour under Souness, to the Black Forrest in Germany, where we had a couple of games scheduled, one of which was in a small town called Bahlingen if memory serves me correct, fortunately we went independently....

Paul Astley Travel ran a trip also, which was made up mainly of Ewood blues, some of which are not known for their patience and understanding when footballs involved.

We arrived in Bahlingen with plenty of time to spare, had a few beers, and settled down to watch the game. Well into the second half, or possibly after the final whistle, a commotion could be heard behind the main club house, raised voices, swearing, then suddenly 15 or so travel weary folk, with Lancashire accents came into view. Paul Astley Travel had taken them to the wrong Bahlingen which had resulted in them missing the match, Birdy and Co were not happy, as you can imagine, but Paul, who had obviously been getting it the neck for many hours, was still smiling and was happy to tell anyone it wasn’t his fault.

Paul Astley Travel

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I've been away from the mb for a bit so have just seen this. Terrible news.

Hyndburn based Rovers of a 'certain vintage' will remember 'Ghastly Astley'(a term of endearment!) from Boozey late 70's/early 80's stop overs in Stafford (Malt and Hops :D ) whilst en route home from southern away games and Accy Branch meetings at a long since disapeared pub near the railway arches whose name escapes me now.

He was a man who loved Rovers. May he rest in peace.

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I've been away from the mb for a bit so have just seen this. Terrible news.

Hyndburn based Rovers of a 'certain vintage' will remember 'Ghastly Astley'(a term of endearment!) from Boozey late 70's/early 80's stop overs in Stafford (Malt and Hops :D ) whilst en route home from southern away games and Accy Branch meetings at a long since disapeared pub near the railway arches whose name escapes me now.

He was a man who loved Rovers. May he rest in peace.

I think that would be the Black Bull from memory.

A few years ago, my wife and I went on a sentimental reccy into Stafford to see if we could recreate the pub-crawl route we used to traipse round the town on and while there were a few boozers/bars gone and parts of the town centre had altered somewhat unrecognisably, the "Malt & Hops" which was first stop from the coach park was still there. A great little real ale pub just further across and along sadly wasn't, the landlord there always asked how Jim Arnold had kept goal!

Some lovely tributes to Paul on the forums. As I suspected, practically everyone knew him and had a tale to tell.

Im 1980, he was personally responsible for my future wife Lesley, just 16 at the time, and her mate Andrea getting a lift back from Upton Park on Rovers' team bus.

The coach we went on had broken down about a mile from West Ham's ground and after making our way sheepishly to the game on buses, colours well hidden and traps generally kept shut, everyone gathered at the appointed place after the match to learn that our bus was still knackered and no replacement found.

The local plod led us to some safe haven, some yard straight out of a Minder set, reassuringly telling us that if we didn't get out of the East End sharpish, we may come to a grisly end. Paul somehow - this is all before cellphones remember - got the bobbies to stop the departing team bus, suggesting to Howard Kendall that he might like to take sympathy and transport some of the team's stranded and scared devotees home.

Howard took one look at us, a generally smelly, beery, yobbish looking ensemble and probably quite wisely said: "We'll take the lasses and small kids - the rest better sort themselves out."

Lesley, Andrea and two young boys were allowed on under strict instruction not to approach the players, which presumably robbed Paul Comstive of the one chance of any adulation he was ever likely to experience, but they were treated to fish n'chips this being before the era of sports nutritionists.

Lesley's abiding memory is her disappointment at how little the players seemed disappointed after losing 2-0 to the Hammers! It would have cost her every penny of her weekly allowance every week to go to the games so I think she expected hairshirts all round.

The rest of us eventually got back in a couple of minibuses Paul conjured up, with, of course, the obligatory couple of hours hitting the pubs of Stafford.

We drank a farewell toast to Paul last night.

I'm not sure the amount of wine Lesley and I drank in his memory, reminiscing about old times, did either of us much long-term good, but Paul's sudden loss is a sharp reminder that every single day you can wake up and greet your loved ones is to be treasured.

One of the very few other girls - this was 1979-82 there were actually no female toilets on some away ends - who used to travel away on those Accy Branch coaches, Josie (she was Bev Whalley's, sister of Eric's, best mate) fell some years ago with breast cancer.

I remember a lot of the guys off those coaches - Buzz, Dave Hickey, Gordon Jarrett, Trev Whiteside, Dave Horne, Theo Walsh, Peter Webb, Spraggy, Dave Kay and Albert, Ronnie Jarrett, Bernard Wolstenholme - I wonder if they're all still with us? On the slightest chance any of you see this, great days, eh? Well apart from the defeats, obviously.

Actually, they were great days too, we just didn't realise at the time.

Let's hope the boys, probably none of whom knew Paul that well these days, can mark his passing with what he would most have wanted tomorrow, three points towards Rovers' continued well-being.

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