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Maidstone United legend Bob Jeffrey, who lived in Tovil, passes away after long battle with cancer

If you look at the team sheets ahead of Saturday’s Champions League final you will be hard put to find a man as committed as Bob Jeffrey.

The former Maidstone United goalkeeper inspired his team to victory in the 1966 Kent Senior Cup final - despite breaking his collar bone during the encounter against Ramsgate.

The injury meant Jeffrey could not continue between the posts but that did not stop his determination to play.

With substitutions not permitted he returned to the pitch as a striker and, with five minutes remaining, set up Derek Norton with a flicked header.

Norton went on to bury the ball into an open net, allowing Maidstone to win 3-2 on the day, and 4-3 on aggregate.

That contribution saw a newspaper headline dub him the ‘one arm bandit.’

Sadly the Maidstone United legend passed away from cancer on Tuesday, May 13 aged 78.

The Maidstone United team with the Kent Senior Cup. Bob Jeffrey can be seen in the middle holding the cup.

Lifelong friend Les Apps was his understudy that day and has been left deflated by Mr Jeffrey’s death.

“He really was a good man. I loved being around him, everyone did,” he said.

“Bob could not have been a more loving husband to his wife Phil, who he was married to for 59 years, and his three daughters. He was my best friend and I really miss him.

“He really was quite a character. At half-time he would have a shot of brandy mixed with an aspirin tablet to get him ready for the second-half. We had some amazing times together.”

Les Apps and Bob Jeffrey
Les Apps, an unknown pub landlord and Bob Jeffrey with another trophy from his days at Maidstone United

As well as playing for Maidstone on and off for 10 years, making around 200 appearances in the process, Mr Jeffrey was a talented cricketer who batted at number three for Dymchurch.

After his sport days were over Mr Jeffrey became a popular landlord at a number of country pubs.

He started off at the Royal Paper Mill in Tovil, where he stayed for eight years, before moving on to Star and Garter in Tonbridge and the Cobdown Club in Ditton.

Bill Williams, chief executive of Maidstone United, said: “It’s always sad when we lose one of our former players.

"Bob was an outstanding goalkeeper and much admired by teammates and supporters alike. We offer our sincere condolences to his family and friends at this difficult time.”

His funeral will take place in Vinters Park Crematorium on Friday, May 30.

A wake will then take place at the Tovil Club from 1.30pm onwards and everyone who knew Mr Jeffrey is invited.

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