The Tragedy of War


Published in the match day programme: Bradford City v Portsmouth, 03-Nov-18

The tragedy of war

In April and May, 1914 Bradford City AFC embarked on a tour of France, Germany and Switzerland. This included ten games of which all were won except the third of the tour in Frankfurt am Main on 2nd May against Frankfurter Fussball-Verein (a predecessor club to Eintracht Frankfurt who were formed in 1920).

The fixture had been arranged at short notice and the City team included a number of reserve players. Defeat was later attributed to the distraction of a Zeppelin flying overhead as well as the combination of hot conditions and a ground that was hard as stone. The crowd was reported to be around four thousand. The local newspaper reported that the visitors were so annoyed by the defeat that they did not attend the post-match banquet!

1914-05-02 Bradford City COPY FOR WCR

Of the players in this photograph no less than four were killed in World War One including Bob Torrance (standing, far right) who was killed in Belgium in April, 1918. Among the German fatalities was Rudi Schlüter, scorer of all his team’s goals in the 3-1 victory, killed in Galicia in 1915. Others included Alois Braun who was injured on the western front in August, 1914 and died shortly after as well as Dr. Friedrich Claus who died of injuries sustained in Mesopotania in 1915.

Other players who featured in the above game included Dickie Bond, (third, left) who later became a prisoner of war and Jock Ewart, (fifth, right) who suffered shell shock.

A total of ten current and former Bradford City players were killed in the war. This included the 1911 FA Cup final goalscorer and former captain, Jimmy Speirs, Bob Torrance, England internationals Evelyn Lintott and Jimmy Conlin, James Comrie, George Draycott, Ernest Goodwin, Harry Potter and Gerald Kirk. Unfortunately the status of Ernest Kenworthy who played two games for the club in 1906/07 was not established until after the erection of the memorial by Bantamspast in the Valley Parade reception in 2015.

John Dewhirst

John’s book A HISTORY OF BCAFC IN OBJECTS (vol 1 in the BANTAMSPAST HISTORY REVISITED series) provides background about City memorabilia. In future issues of The Parader he will feature objects that tell the history of the club. If you have a City artefact in your possession that you would like him to feature in the programme contact him at johnpdewhirst at gmail dot com or tweets @jpdewhirst

John has written widely about the history of sport in Bradford: Links to his features on the history of Bradford sport

Elsewhere on this blog you can find his programme articles from earlier games this season and last.

Reviews of books


Details here about the new bantamspast History Revisited book by Jason McKeown and other volumes in the same series: BANTAMSPAST HISTORY REVISITED BOOKS


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