FORMER Burton Albion player Geoff Tye has passed away at the age of 81.
Geoff, who was born and lived all his life in Burton, was a key player for the Brewers in the 1950s and 1960s, notching up more than 200 appearances. A versatile player, he was brought in as a winger, but later played midfield before settling in as a combative defender.
He made his debut in a Brewers shirt as a 19-year-old at the old Wellington Street ground in 1954 and played alongside Albion legends such as Jackie Stamps, Bill Townsend and Nobby Hadfield.
He played for the Brewers during a tricky financial period when the club moved to Eton Park in 1958 and made the switch to the Southern League, which put the club’s finances under pressure.
Geoff made 34 appearances in Albion’s debut season in the Southern League and scored the winner in one of only three victories the Brewers secured that season as they finished bottom.
It was a struggle for the Brewers in the next two seasons as they finished second and third bottom in the Southern League First Division but Geoff was ever-reliable notching up more than 40 appearances in 1959/1960 and playing a further 47 times (more than any other player) in 1960/1961. He bagged just one goal in this time – to earn Albion a Boxing Day draw at Rugby in December 1959.
Albion improved in the 1961/1962 season and Geoff played alongside Brewers goalscoring legend Richie Barker, whose 19 strikes eased pressure on the club.
In all, Geoff made well over 200 appearances for Burton Albion and played for 11 years before moving on to Gresley Rovers in 1965 at the age of 30. He carried on playing football into his 40s.
Geoff leaves a wife Norma and three sons, Paul, Chris and Darren.
Norma was a Burton Albion supporter who watched Geoff play from the terraces before meeting him at a dance at Burton Town Hall.
She says: “He asked me to dance but I didn’t much like him then – not until I got to know him! You had to know Geoff but once you did everyone loved him.”
The couple married in 1958 and Burton Albion was an important part of their lives together.
Norma says: “He was a versatile player who could play almost anywhere and scored the odd goal as well. He was very dedicated and he played hard but was always fair. He always said he played to win. He wasn’t very keen on referees and was a character but off the field he was a completely different man – quiet, unassuming and charming.
“He had a trial with Charlton when they were in the first division and two more with Blackpool – who were interested in taking him. He was in the middle of his apprenticeship to be a maintenance electrician at the time and was worried that he might not be good enough to take the risk.”
Geoff worked for the Co-op and electricity and coal boards before working for 25 years at Pirelli.
Norma says: “Geoff loved any sport and played rugby at the grammar school but in his spare time he went over Eton Road rec with his mates and played football until he went to work and played for the Co-op.”
Geoff was signed By Burton Albion alongside Ray Bowering after being spotted playing for the Co-op.
Ray and his wife Marlene have remained lifelong friends with Geoff.
Marlene says: “Ray and Geoff loved playing for Burton Albion together. Geoff was always a competitor on the pitch and had a short temper sometimes, because he so much wanted Burton Albion to win. But off the pitch he was such a lovely man and like Ray was very proud of having played for Burton Albion.”