Issue Bradford City’s 1911 team and the Great War

As told by Dave Pendleton

If Glorious 1911 was Bradford’s finest hour, then the years 1914-18 were the bleakest the city has ever faced. The fate of Bradford City’s FA Cup winning captain Jimmy Speirs perhaps epitomises the era. In 1911 he held the glittering FA Cup aloft to the cheers of 100,000 people packed onto the streets of Bradford; six years later he lay dying in a muddy shell hole.

As we celebrate the centenary of Bradford City’s greatest triumph we will also remember the nine Bradford City players who lost their lives in the Great War. As we have seen among that number was the captain and goalscorer in the 1911 FA Cup final Jimmy Speirs. Also killed was the man-of-the-match of the FA Cup final Robert Torrance. Sadly, Torrance has no known grave and is thus commemorated among the 36,000 names on the Tyne Cot Memorial to the Missing near Ypres, Belgium. Others with no know final resting place include City’s England internationals Jimmy Conlin and Evelyn Lintott.

Bradford City supporters will have an opportunity to visit the last resting places of the nine players during a trip to France and Belgium in June. As well as the nine players the trip will also take in Serre where the Bradford Pals attacked on the first day of the Battle of the Somme and the grave of Bradford Park Avenue’s Donald Bell – the only professional footballer to be awarded the Victoria Cross.

The trip will take place between Thursday 2 June and Sunday 5 June 2011. People can book an early bird price of £270 if they pay before April. It includes all travel to and two night’s accommodation in Lille and one night in Arras (including breakfast). The trip is strictly limited to twenty places and will be sold on a first come first served basis. To register interest please contact the bantamspast museum curator David Pendleton by email davidpendleton1@gmail.com or drop into the bantamspast museum at Valley Parade prior to home games.