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.
You can order a subscriber copy from firstname.lastname@example.org
Trying to read that gothic script hurts my eyes!
Shows what a unifier football can be and still can be. Anyone had any thoughts about a remembrance/centenary tour?
The Frankfurt people are arranging their own centenary exhibition and keen to link up with City supporters. I would like to suggest organising something next season, doing so in November might be particularly topical. News of any developments will be posted. The new book is now at the printers for finalisation of artwork. You can subscribe to the book and get your name in the back. The book features a big volume and range of memorabilia, including about the Frankfurt game.
FAO john Dewhirst, as an aside, do you know who the player Miller was for City on the tour? He played 5 & scored 2 but never played for City in a league game before or after. Was he a trialist or reserve?
Not sure , i know that BCAFC took a few reserves with them and in fact the team vs Frankfurt was not full strength as they were resting players from the previous day. There was activity back in the UK signing new players whilst the team was in Germany. Begs the question whether Miller might have broken into the team at a later date was it not for WW1. Sorry I can’t add any more. Dave Pendleton has seen some newspaper cuttings so may be able to advise. He had better luck than I did because there seemed to be little more than a one line write-up on the games in the papers I saw.
Thanks John, i recall in Sawyers History he said that George Waddell was signed and joined the team halfway through the tour but i can’t find any trace of ‘Miller’. I’ll ask Dave if he can solve the mystery.
Mr Pendleton is looking for his notes as we speak. The trip to Germany was very much on an exhibition basis in response to local enthusiasm for soccer and respect of the English game/teams. Frankfurt had an English manager for example. I wonder whether the tour was organised through contacts in the textile industry and besides there were plenty of Germans in Bradford. But of course it wasn’t the first exhibition tour… 20 years before Manningham FC had travelled to Paris to play Stade Francis (who they beat) and it wasn’t the first overseas tour undertaken by BCAFC.
The E.Frankfurt people are keen to develop links and id wondered about trying to co-ordinate something next season, maybe November.
Meanwhile the new book is finished and going into production next week. Subscriber copies available, follow the link on this site.
I think its a great idea to establish links John. Especially at this poignant time of 100 years since that tragic conflict that affected both clubs. Thanks, i never knew about the FFV losses. Can’t wait for the book also.
By the way i think ‘Miller’ is the one stood between Peter Logan & Oscar Fox on the back row. According to ‘Sawyers’ team line up, he’s the only one i don’t recognise.
The Zeppelin excuse…
…at least it was original.