A fitting memorial

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By Ian Hemmens

It has just been announced that finally, but fittingly in the Centenary of the Great War, a permanent Memorial plaque has been produced and handed to the club for display showing all the names and relevant details of the players who represented City in two World Wars but paid the ultimate sacrifice.

From well known heroes and legends like Jimmy Speirs, Robert Torrance and Evelyn Lintott to reserves who didn’t manage to make the first team but nevertheless were on the clubs books at one time or another.

Fans groups have long campaigned for some recognition of the club’s sacrifice in the conflicts and now, thanks to the hard work and research of the likes of long-term fans John Barker and John Dewhirst, the club has a fitting memorial for these men. Funds were raised by various means including selling badges which made up a large amount of the funds needed to produce the memorial.

It’s my understanding that years ago the club were weary of putting a memorial to a few players on show because so many of the population of Bradford suffered in some way from the carnage of WW1 with most families suffering some loss or injury, the club didn’t want to put a few players on a pedestal whilst thousands of supporters had suffered the same fate without much recognition at the time.

This memorial at Valley Parade goes in hand with a memorial on the Somme for the Bradford Pals which is also far too long overdue.

During my own research for other projects, I came across another player who served City and made the ultimate sacrifice. Sadly it was too late for him to be included on the memorial, but I feel I should mention him now so he gets the rightful recognition.

His name was George Ernest Kenworthy who played for City between 1907-09 mainly as a reserve, but he made two first team appearances scoring one goal before moving to Castleford Town and then the fledgling Huddersfield Town, where he was a team mate of former City reserves Jimmy Roberts, the Welsh international and reserve keeper Tom Felstead.

He made several Midland League and FA Cup appearances for Town until he realised wasn’t going to make it as a professional so he returned to play for his hometown club Matlock Town. He took up teaching and by 1915 was the Head master at Matlock Primary School when he volunteered for service with the Northants & Derbyshire Battalions. He was sadly killed in action on 10 November 1917 aged 29 near Nieuwpoort in Belgium by a shell splinter and is buried in the cemetery at Coxyde in Belgium.

His name is also on a memorial plaque in Peterborough Cathedral to the fallen and also in Matlock. I hope he can be added and acknowledged in the future somehow along with the others on City’s memorial but this is my tribute to another City hero.

George Ernest Kenworthy 1888-1917 – RIP

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2 replies

  1. VALLEY PARADE WAR MEMORIAL

    A big thank you to everyone who supported the BANTAMSPAST BRADFORD PALS BADGE APPEAL in March this year. The sale of commemorative badges at Valley Parade prior to the game with Fleetwood has funded a plaque to remember 12 serving and former players who gave their lives in the two world wars.

    To date there has not been a memorial at Valley Parade. This was not because the sacrifices had been forgotten but quite the reverse. Because so many of the club’s supporters had been killed in the Great War there was a reluctance on the part of the club to give prominence to the sacrifice of the players above those of others. Instead, the commemoration of the war dead tended to be at a civic level.

    With the centenary of the Great War, it was felt appropriate to finally have a memorial at Valley Parade.

    Bradford City AFC, and its predecessor Manningham FC, had a strong military heritage not least signified by the club adopting the claret and amber colours of the West Yorkshire Regiment and the use of the facilities at the Belle Vue Barracks on Manningham Lane. City supporters have been active in encouraging interest in those players who perished in World War One. David Pendleton for example has organised annual trips to the war graves in France and a memorial to the scorer of the winning goal in the 1911 FA Cup Final, Jimmy Speirs is planned in 2017 to mark the centenary of his death at Passchendaele.

    The subject of the Great War has encouraged considerable interest among supporters. Ian Hemmens who has researched City players who fought in the war recently identified another connection, that of George Kenworthy, a reserve player transferred to Huddersfield Town in 1909 and killed in 1917.

    In addition to the memorial at Valley Parade the proceeds of the badge sales have funded a donation of £1,100 for a memorial at Bus-les-Artois in France where the soldiers of the Bradford Pals found a safe haven in the days before the Battle of the Somme. This memorial is being organised by a community group whose members include longstanding City supporters Andy Tyne and Phil Walker.

    John Dewhirst

  2. As a newcomer to woap and a BC supporter since 1956. I would like to say how interesting and informative the articles are, well done to all concerned!

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