By John Dewhirst
As the centenary of the outbreak of World War One approaches there is another anniversary to commemorate. In 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 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!
Of the players in the photograph at the top of this article, 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 killed on the western front in August, 1914 and Dr. Friedrich Claus who was killed on the Iraqi/Iranian border.
Other players who featured in the above game included Dickie Bond, (third, left) who later became a prisoner of war and Jock Ewart, (third, right) who suffered shell shock.
A total of nine current and former BCAFC 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, Gerald Kirk, George Draycott, Ernest Goodwin and Harry Potter.
Other photos and a copy of the Frankfurt programme (see below) feature in the forthcoming book, BCAFC: A History in Objects.
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