Jeff Astle’s widow hit by missile 'thrown by rival Leicester City fan' during West Brom clash
Five people arrested as trouble flared with 10 Leicester City fans thrown out of The Hawthorns
The widow of West Brom legend Jeff Astle has said she will never watch another game after being hit by a cigarette lighter.
The missile is thought to have been thrown by a rival fan during Saturday’s clash with Leicester City.
Laraine Astle was not hurt but saw both a young boy and a woman in her 20s injured by missiles during the match, the first home game she had attended since Astle Day almost three years ago.
She said: “It was awful. I have never seen such venom, nor have I felt so frightened at a game in the 54 years I have followed the Albion. I felt like a sitting duck.
“The young woman sitting behind me was struck by a coin that missed her eye by fractions of an inch. It could have blinded her.
“The little lad sitting near me was hit by the cigarette lighter which then struck me on the shoulder before bouncing onto the hand of my daughter Claire.
“I felt the thud but neither she nor I was hurt, however the boy was hysterical.
“By the 56th minute of the match five missiles had landed around us. I was more shocked by what I saw in the stands that what was happening on the pitch.
“The way I feel now I never want to go to another game of football.”
Laraine had only gone to the Baggies match on Saturday because her son-in-law had been unable to attend.
Her daughter Claire Wheeler had given the Smethwick End ticket to her mother instead.
It was the first time Mrs Astle had attended a match in three years.
Mrs Wheeler told how the atmosphere turned sour as fans began throwing missiles and ruined the day for the two of them.
After the match she took to Twitter to voice her anger and appeal to Leicester City fans.
She tweeted: "If you know/saw who threw coins and a lighter at WBA fans in the Smethwick End, please report them to your club.
"The coin hit a young lady in the eye and the lighter hit a four year old boy in the face. Disgusting."
Speaking to the Express & Star, she said: “It was disgusting behaviour and a real shame because mum had not been for so long and was really looking forward to it.
“She said to me: ‘If that is what football is like you can keep it’.”
Mrs Wheeler, a season ticket holder for 20 years, continued: “The cigarette lighter hit the little boy in the face before bouncing on to mum and me. I was seething and took the cigarette lighter it to a police officer.
“Another officer told me they would be checking CCTV over the next few days to try to identify those responsible.
“I hope they are traced and punished. There are a lot of decent Leicester City fans but, as usual, the minority ruin it for everybody. This sort of behaviour has got to be stopped.”
Superintendent Basit Javid, of West Midlands Police, said: “There were a few issues around the behaviour of some Leicester City fans at the match.
“Police and West Bromwich Albion Football Club security worked together to take decisive action.
“As a result two Leicester City fans were refused entry from the outset, and 10 were ejected from the site.”
He added: “Five people were arrested and are being dealt with accordingly.
“We are continuing to work with the club to minimise the risk of this occurring again and are seeking to put banning orders in place to prevent troublemakers from being allowed entry in future.”
West Brom were beaten 4-1 by Leicester – ironically the club against whom Jeff Astle made his debut.