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Monday, November 16, 2015

Just a Ball Game? 5th Birthday Award to Bradford Brewery

                      Just a Ball Game? 5th birthday Award to                                                                                                               Bradford Brewery

A week ago on 9th November Just A Ball Game? (JBG?) celebrated their 5th Birthday. As in previous years the annual Tackling Homophobia in Football Award was presented by JBG? and this year (2015) it was given to BRADFORD BREWERY for their support in creating Bradford City LGBT fan group (@BfdCityLGBT)  and also designating the bar as a safe space for LGBT fans on a match day.
JBG? founder Lindsay England presented the silver salver to Brewery Owner Roy Davison (pictured above wearing one of JBG?'s ltd edition claret & amber shirts!) and it was immediately put on display for staff and customers to admire.

Alison Jackel, Manager of the Bradford Brewery had this to say on learning of the award: " I'm proud the Bradford Brewery has been given the 2015 Tackling Homophobia in Football Award and we are very happy giving support to Just A Ball Game? We are proud we are the only 'straight ally' bar in the world to offer a dedicated safe space for LGBT fans on a match day and beyond. It's important to stand up to homophobia. I personally will stand by JBG? to educate and support against homophobia."


The birthday celebrations continued during the week when JBG? also gained support from Bantams Banter podcast presenters TOM & DOM who spoke about JBG? and the Bradford City LGBT fan group on their West Yorkshire Sport radio show. Anyone who missed the recording can catch up here for a few days:


We end our week with the official announcement of a second football club to come under the JBG? brand as a group of professional women in the North West who play recreational 5-a-side football to keep fit and healthy have partnered with us to become another Just A Ball Game? team known as JBG? MERSEYSIDE. The team play in a league at the Netherton Goals Soccer Centre on a Thursday evening and proudly wear our JBG? strip.

Monday, October 19, 2015

Has Women's Football Inspired Roy Hodgson’s Team?

                              Has Women's Football Inspired Roy Hodgson’s Team?
Months after the England women’s teams superb effort in the World Cup, where they reached the semi-finals, England’s men’s team have continued the assault on all fronts with a string of impressive victories. So has the women’s teams recent heroics inspired the men to up their game ahead of the European Championships next year?

After the devastating loss to Japan in the semi-finals, it was admiral how Mark Sampson’s team picked themselves up and secured a third place finish at the tournament. In the third place playoff they managed to defeat Germany 1-0 to finish the tournament on a high note thanks to a 107th minute penalty scored by midfield dynamo, Fara Williams</a>. The result meant that this was England’s most successful World Cup campaign since Bobby Moore lifted the trophy in 1966.

But regardless of the devastating way the team went out, through a Laura Bassett 92nd minute own goal, the nation rallied behind the team. Women’s football got a huge boost from Sampson’s brave squad and the way they went about their business, who unlike their male counterparts who have become perennial underachievers at major tournaments over the years. Not since Glenn Hoddle’s ‘98 England side have the men’s team put up a significant challenge to win any silverware.

So it begs the question, has this motivated the men’s team to performed better? With Roy Hodgson’s side winning 10 out of 10 games in their European qualifying group, some might say, yes. It’s about time that as a nation we performed to the best of our abilities at an international tournament. And if the Lionesses showed anything in North America it was that with a bit of grit and determination, anything is possible. The women now find themselves 5th in the FIFA World Rankings thanks to their impressive showing in Canada. With the men’s team officially seeded in the upcoming draw for the European Championships, they can take a lot of pointers from the women’s team as they look to win the Euros for the first time in our history.

What Roy Hodgson’s team should remember, is that regardless if they aren’t favourites to overcome their opposition, even if they don’t win, they should go out on their shields. Even though the women’s team may have overachieved in Canada, it’s through their resilience and heart that got them so far in the tournament, and the men’s team should definitely go into their upcoming trip to France next summer with the same mentality if they want to make an impression in the tournament.


Tuesday, October 06, 2015

A Sporting Partnership




Just a Ball Game? has teamed up with Bradford Brewery to create a new unique  partnership. On the 1st October, the brewery will be launching a beer named Just a Ball Game? and launching a safe space for LGBT sports fans on match days. 

Additionally, on the night, a new Bradford City LGBT Supporters Group will be officially launched, with the Twitter account  @BFDCITYLGBT. The new fan club is endorsed by Bradford City Football Club, who are already proudly displaying the banner.
“Bradford City FC is delighted that Just a Ball Game? has achieved this support from the Bradford Brewery. The Club has worked closely with Just a Ball Game? since its inception and they have always provided sensible and practical support for the Club as it looks to attract LGBT fans to its home games.
We are a Club that is open to all and Just a Ball Game? has helped Bradford City FC to ensure its fan-base is fully inclusive.  We thank Bradford Brewery for their support for this venture and hope that the organisational links helps Just a Ball Game?  to go from strength-to-strength.” David Dowse, Facilities Manager, Bradford City FC.

During the course of the evening, there will be a Q&A session with invited guests including Gerry Sutcliffe, the former Sports Minister and Councillor Richard Dunbar. Alongside this there will be an educational exhibition on display, entitled “Time for Action”, and memorabilia from the women’s football game.
Support for these initiatives’ has come from many people including the Leader  of Bradford Council, David Green,I welcome this initiative applaud the organisers in making sure that the peoples game is open and safe for all people to enjoy. It is great to see one of our new local businesses getting involved in this community initiative and supporting one of our great sporting clubs”

The beer will be a traditional English Best Bitter containing pale malt, crystal malt, wheat, caramel and chocolate malt with a royal gold colour.
In addition to being on sale at the Bradford Brewery, the beer will also be sale at Al’s Dime Bar, on North Parade.

Lindsay England, founder of JBG? said, “ Just a Ball Game? are very proud of the partnerships with both Bradford Brewery, and Al’s Dime Bar. Who, as of the 1st October will be selling a beer with our brand name on it to mark the launch of the LGBT safe space and Bradford City LGBT fan group.”

 A spokesperson for the brewery had this to add: "Bradford Brewery are pleased to support Just a ball Game? It is important that individuality within sport is celebrated. We are all one team."- Alison of Bradford Brewery.
It’s hoped the branded beer, safe space and LGBT fan group will help to evolve an LGBT /straight alliance and inspire other communities to do similar.

The launch is a free event, and open to all who wish to support the venture.

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Joint Media Release: JBG? and Bradford Brewery.

        Joint Media Release: JBG? and Bradford Brewery.

Bradford Brewery partnership with Just  A Ball Game? create a branded Beer to launch LGBT Fan Group and Safe Space.

Campaign organisation Just A Ball Game? (JBG?) has created a unique partnership with Bradford Brewery to provide a branded beer on sale for the month of October 2015 to launch a Bradford City LGBT Fan Group and also the venue as a ‘Safe Space’ for LGBT fans to drink at on match days.

The launch will take place 18:30 -21:30 on October 1st 2015 with a number of invited guests including former Sports Minister Gerry Sutcliffe, Bradford Councillors Richard Dunbar, Susan Hinchcliffe and Sue Duffy. JBG?’s educational exhibition ‘TIME FOR ACTION’  will also be on display along with posters and memorabilia from the Women’s Game will also be on display during October.

Mr Dunbar says, "I am proud to be part of this Just A Ball Game? initiative to get a fan group going. LGBT sports fans need to know they are in a safe environment, and can enjoy the whole match experience the same as everyone else."

Lindsay England, founder of JBG? said, “ Bradford City have for several years supported the local LGBT community as part of the ‘football family’ and the time is now right to introduce an LGBT fan group for the club.” “We wanted to take a quirky idea and bring our brand name to local football fans to create a way they can connect with our work in raising awareness around LGBT inclusion and visibility. Having the Bradford Brewery partner with us by introducing a new beer and a safe space can help bring this about.

The beer will be a traditional English Best Bitter containing pale malt, crystal malt, wheat, caramel and chocolate malt with a royal gold colour.

 Listen to how JUST A BALL GAME? beer was made. Open url,click play. If Whoops! appears click Music Player For Google Drive.

A spokesperson for the brewery had this to add: "Bradford Brewery are pleased to support Just a ball Game? It is important that individuality within sport is celebrated. We are all one team."- Alison of Bradford Brewery.
It’s hoped the branded beer, safe space and LGBT fan group will help to evolve an LGBT /straight alliance and inspire other communities to do similar.

Thursday, July 16, 2015

JBG? Comment on FA Statement regarding Malky Mackay and Iain Moody.

           JBG? Comment on FA Statement regarding Malky Mackay and Iain Moody.

Just A Ball Game? (JBG?)  who raise awareness around LGBT inclusion and challenge what is seen as homophobia or anti-gay,are very disappointed (but not surprised) that The Football Association (FA) has after a long investigation in line with the FA's own anti-discrimination policies taken the decision not to charge former Cardiff City and Wigan Athletic manager Malky Mackay and Iain Moody, a former employee of Cardiff and Crystal Palace, for alleged racist, antisemitic, sexist and homophobic comments revealed by the Daily Mail in August 2014.

We at JBG? want to see all football authorities take a zero tolerance to all discrimination within the game.
The Football Association (FA) announced that Malky Mackay and Iain Moody are not being charged for alleged racist, antisemitic, sexist and homophobic comments. See the FA statement here: 
"The FA has undertaken a thorough and detailed investigation in connection with inappropriate language contained within text messages and an email sent by Iain Moody, and text messages sent by Malky Mackay when they were employed by Cardiff City FC.
The messages, sent between June 2011 and March 2014, were obtained by Cardiff City FC in March 2014. The FA first became aware of the messages in August 2014. The messages were provided in full to The FA in October 2014.
To date, The FA’s policy in cases such as this has been to not bring charges in respect of private communications sent with a legitimate expectation of privacy.
The FA’s investigation looked at all aspects of the communications, including the context in which the communications were sent. The evidence was then reviewed by a QC with particular expertise in sports’ disciplinary proceedings and employment law.
Having assessed the evidence, and in light of the finding that the communications were sent with a legitimate expectation of privacy, The FA will not be taking disciplinary action against Iain Moody and Malky Mackay in connection with the content of those messages.
However, The FA has spoken to both Iain Moody and Malky Mackay about the inappropriateness of terms used in the messages. Both individuals have acknowledged that such terms are not acceptable. Mr Mackay has also voluntarily undertaken equality and diversity training.
The FA is in the process of carrying out a complex review involving all stakeholders on how communications, and in particular those involving discriminatory language, which may be viewed as taking place in private should be treated in the future.
The English game remains determined to eliminate discriminatory conduct in all its forms and will look to introduce a policy on private conduct that underpins the collective commitment of stakeholders to make this happen.
Wider review
In addition to investigating the context in which the communications referred to above were sent, The FA has conducted an investigation to establish whether Iain Moody and Malky Mackay engaged in discriminatory behaviour during their time at Cardiff City FC.
The FA has pursued every lead and encouraged anybody who wanted to provide information or evidence to do so. Malky Mackay and Iain Moody have been interviewed at length and 27 potential witnesses, based in the UK and overseas, have been spoken to.
All of the information and evidence gathered during this process has been carefully assessed, with the assistance of a QC. At this stage no disciplinary charges will be brought against either Malky Mackay or Iain Moody in respect of their conduct whilst they were employed by Cardiff City FC.
The FA has reached its decisions based on the information and evidence currently available to it. Should more information or evidence come to light then The FA reserves the right to bring disciplinary action as appropriate.
Other developments in The FA’s investigation
The FA has at all stages sought to conclude this matter as quickly and efficiently as possible. However, the investigation has been lengthened considerably due to serious concerns about the circumstances in which particular evidence provided to The FA had been given and the reliability and completeness of that evidence.
The nature of these concerns, which The FA treats with the utmost seriousness, has necessitated significant further inquiries by The FA and the liaison with external law enforcement agencies.
The FA reserves the right to open further investigations if deemed appropriate. No further comment will be made in this respect."

Sunday, May 31, 2015


                       JUST A BALL GAME?     MEDIA RELEASE.                                       

                                                                                                                             ©   2011-2018.

                                          OUT,PROUD and KICKING.

 It seems like stigma and prejudice around women playing football has been around forever as the sport fails annually in delivering on Equality Inclusion and Diversity. 
This year’s Women’s World Cup in Canada will showcase elite players from across the globe, many of whom in the competition will for the first time be paid a wage (of sorts) to train and compete professionally.

While the men’s professional game has been reluctant to be fully inclusive and supportive of anyone within the game who identifies as LGBT its generally regarded that football is much more accepting of women who are lesbian or bisexual. But exactly how true is this?

With society in general a little more accepting of homosexuality these days, players are out to team mates, coaches and managers in numbers compared to say 10-15 years ago. But still very few playing at the highest level are out and proud publicly meaning they can be seen as much needed role models for young people to look up to and aspire too.

Asking why this is, we at Just A Ball Game? (JBG?) have been given a number of reasons. Some state it’s a non-issue, some are ‘out’ to their team but not to family members or friends, some are not out to work colleagues, some still fear being vocal about sexuality will affect endorsements or chances of being selected for team or country. Others quiet simply want to keep their private life just so, and others see a need to protect partners or family from bigotry or abuse

In celebration of those women’s players who have spoken to the media openly about their sexuality, here at JBG? we have produced a double sided poster of 14 players and a coach who will feature for their International sides in the tournament in Canada all of whom are OUT, PROUD and KICKING.

Pia Sundhage-Sweden:

A former Sweden International Pia told the media, "There has been no problem for me to be openly gay as head coach in the USA team." She went on to say that she and her partner received a solid welcome in the U.S. "If people ask me about it”,  I answer “Yes I’m gay and that’s how it is. I’ve never come across any trouble for it as a coach in the United States or anywhere.  It was tough when I was twenty-years-old in Sweden, but even then I didn’t care.  This is me. Take it or leave it."


Nadine Angerer-Germany:
Nadine was quoted with this line when the DBF announced it was sending a pro-gay leaflet to all 26k clubs in Germany, “I want to tell you to come out, please. It’s really important we respect ourselves.”

Erin McLeod-Canada:
The Houston Dash keepers relationship with Ella Masar was very openly announced in a heartfelt blog story by Ella, and there is lots of love between them on social media.

Casey Stoney-England:
Arsenal defender Casey and long term girlfriend and former team mate Megan Harris have baby twins together.

Lianne Sanderson-England:
Arsenal and former Boston Breakers striker Lianne has always been very honest around her personal life while playing in the UK and US and has spoken about how great it is to be yourself and open to fans who meet her after games.

Abby Wambach-USA:
Team captain and all time record goal scorer  for the USA  Abby married former player (and Athlete Ally) Sarah Huffman in Hawaii 2013.

Megan Rapinoe-USA:
Megan ‘came out’ in the media prior to playing in the 2012 London Olympic Games stating:
“I just felt like I was leaving something out and omitting something and not being 100 percent truthful. Even though I never lied about anything. The world is sort of presumably straight, so I think I wasn’t wanting to be assumed [to be straight] or have people believe that. I’m obviously very proud of who I am. I couldn’t be happier with who I am. It was something that was important to me.”
As well as a footballer Megan is an advocate for a number of LGBT organisations.

Caroline Seger-Sweden:
Caroline as a 17 year old felt ashamed to be lesbian and tried to hide her relationships. Today she speaks out about it helping other young LGBT’s who may struggle with their sexuality.

Hedvig Lindahl-Sweden:
The Chelsea keeper openly speaks about her girlfriend and son in interviews for the media.

Katie Duncan-New Zealand:
Recently married her girlfriend (former New Zealand player Priscilla Duncan) and now plays in Switzerland to be with her new bride who works in Zurich.

Isabell Herlovsen-Norway:
She came out as a teenager saying it felt very natural to her and wanted to be true to herself, her family and friends have been supportive and she thinks it’s important to be open publicly.

Trine Ronning-Norway:
The 29-year-old defender made her debut on the national team in 1999. In 2009 she became team vice-captain. In January 2009, she married teammate Kristin Blystad Bjerke shortly after same-sex marriage became legal in Norway.

Nilla Fischer-Sweden:
Married her girlfriend Maria Michaela in 2013, she was named ‘gay of the year 2014’ in Sweden and is an official ambassador for the Stockholm EuroGames in 2015.

Lisa Dahlkvist-Sweden:
Team mate of Seger, Lindahl and Fischer Lisa who came out publicly back in 2008

Michelle Heyman-Australia:
Michelle another athlete whose quite open with her personal life on social media and says she really has never been in the closet and there was no real big revelation. It’s a non-issue for her, for her team mates. It’s a non-story.


Saturday, May 30, 2015

Best wishes to England Women's World Cup Squad.

            Here at JBG? we would like to send our best wishes to the England Women's World Cup                                           squad as they start their campaign of Canada 2015.
                       We have made 2 posters dedicated to 2 of our favourite England players.

Monday, May 11, 2015

11.05.1985 Always Remember-A personal story.

                                 11.05.1985 Always Remember  - A personal story.        

Last home game of the Football League season holds a number of differing memories for myself as a life long football supporter. Happy ones such as a last gasp win against Liverpool FC in 2000 to secure Premier League survival  make the summer weekends awaiting the start of the next season a little more bearable. But, for 30 years now even these great moments have been overshadowed by ingrained memories of the events of11.05.1985.On what should have been a triumphant day in the clubs history it will always remain as a day of tragedy not just for the football clubs of Bradford City and Lincoln City and respective towns but also one of the darkest days ever in the beautiful game's history and the worst day of my life as a football fan. Only 5 days earlier City had been crowned Division 3 Champions with a 2-0 win at Bolton, local hero Stuart McCall scoring the 2nd goal.

                            ( Stuart scores me and friends celebrating on the terraces.)

It's strange how every year around the end of the season my childhood recollections stirred by my thoughts remembering 'the 56' seem to grow and this year 30 years on from the fire that day those recollections have become even more vivid.
My very first experience of live professional football came when I visited Valley Parade for the first time on April 12th 1975 for Bradford City's home game v Lincoln City. Bradford City, my home town team lost the game 1-2 but I was hooked for life on becoming a 'Parader'and wearing the unique to the football league colours of claret and amber. Little did I know that a decade later I would be attending a game once more against Lincoln City, this time as a teenager and come away thankfully with no more than cuts and bruises physically, but also with mental scars with life changing thoughts and feelings.

         (9 years old in claret and amber)
The first interests in football I had as I recall came some months earlier along side a great love for music, I am unsure as to which came first my love of music or my love of football, maybe, they came hand in hand. I grew up in the small Yorkshire Village of Queensbury, and spent many summers across the valley at my Gran's home (in Thornton village) which was sandwiched between a farm and a stables and opposite an Archery field , the latter of which had grass much more finely cut than surrounding fields and made an excellent area to 'keep goal.'
My skills between the sticks on the Archery field on a weekend developed quickly here and I transferred them to the junior school playground (being the only girl in school to compete amongst the boys) during play time and diner time in the coming weeks.
Two 'matches' in particular are this year in my memory as they were the only two games from childhood in which I remember scoring, only 2 you say, well I was a goalkeeper! The first came while defending the 'track end' small goals around 3'6" high painted on the school yard perimeter wall alongside a dirt track. From a goal kick the ball was passed back to me and for some reason I decided to go forward with the ball at my feet and take on a couple of defenders, rounding these player with ease, somehow, I then looked up and seeing the opposition keeper on the edge of the six yard box I lofted the ball over him sweet as you like and in to the far top right corner. The next  goal over a year later came while shooting towards the 'track end' our team earned a corner, and I came up for it, made myself some space and drifted in at the back post to nod home. Disbelief and shock came from all around followed by comments like " what just happened there? well? who was marking Lindsay?"

Bradford City and Valley Parade soon became my second home, school holidays were spent making tea alongside the apprentice's (some of whom were my school pals) for first team at training, and helping out Roy the groundsman prepare the pitch over the summer, and then clearing 3-4 foot of snow from the playing surface on a regular basis during the winter months to make sure that the games went ahead.

                                                                               ( With school pal and City legend Stuart McCall)
Saturday 11th May 1985 started out much like any other regular Saturday, though on this day the routine began a little earlier to accommodate having to be at the ground in time to gain entry with an expected crowd of double the regular attendance and save seats for a couple friends who were working that morning, getting a space on the Midland Road side of the ground with a good view of an parade of the trophy by the players pre-match and then what should have been a whole weekend of celebration to follow.
The usual trip to HMV record store and visits to the Junction and Smithy pubs to warm up the party atmosphere before a game were replaced by a meet with fellow fans at the Birdcage, move on to the Queens, then some lunch and a quick pint at either Bradford Arms or Connaught Rooms and head up to Valley Parade in time for the turnstiles to open became the itinerary for the day. I can recall exactly what I was wearing that day even though it was 30 years ago such is the vivid recollection of that tragic event. I wasn't dressed in usual football match gear but rather more appropriate 'playing out' clothing,( my toned down punk look of pants and top from the famous World's End shop on London's Kings Road in a pastel biscuit shade and new baby blue zip Clarke's Loafers)  as we were staying in town after the match to party and would then meet up with the players and staff and head straight on to the night clubs.
On arrival at the ground friends and myself entered through the back of the main stand and into the paddock area, as the fans began to filter though in some numbers we made our way to front couple of rows of G block to save the seats for my friends brothers and then we would make our way around the opposite side of the ground where we could watch from a touchline wall near the halfway line rather than our regular spots behind fencing on the Spion Kop and Bradford End depending on which way the team was kicking towards. I should point out at this stage "seats" in the main stand were no more than long wooden benches with a small line every now and then with a faded painted number every now and then, and fan segregation only happened for 'big' games so you could walk around 3 sides of the ground. Our plan was watching from the Midland Road side we could at final whistle get on the pitch quicker and get over to the tunnel area, there we would wait for the players to come out onto the balcony above and spray us with champagne and throw down their shirts for us to hopefully catch.
Around 25 minutes before KO the boys took their seats in the main stand and we made our way round to our vantage point. The players paraded the Division 3 trophy to a packed Valley Parade and local Yorkshire ITV cameras who were covering the match as a football highlights special that weekend.
The sunny May day brightened the on field play of the first half, City were already champions so the tackles were hardly flying in everyone was conserving energies for a party later. As half time approached songs from the Spion Kop increased, and lots of movement of people in the main stand opposite us intensified the cheering fans even more. Smoke appeared small white tufts at first,then we could see flames, we became alarmed as the boys were in those seats and people began to spill onto the the side of the pitch in the corner in front of the paddock, the smoke turns a little greyer and the flames fanned out both up and across the stand, people in there tried to climb the paddock wall, but the stand side of it was around chest high and was therefore quiet difficult for the young and old to attempt this, we saw them head back up the stand towards the back.
By now the referee had stopped play and was instructing the players to make their way back to the tunnel, many people, hundreds were now on the pitch. Only now did it really hit home for me the full scales of what was unfolding in front of me. I climed over the wall onto the pitch, like many I tried to find friends who I knew would be in that part of the ground. It was chaos everywhere, fans from all sides of the ground were now on the pitch, we stood looking on feeling helpless at not being able to reach out and offer a hand to those trying to escape the fire which had in just a couple of minutes enraged across the whole back and roof of the stand as one huge fire ball. We were driven back halfway across the pitch by the sheer heat. It was like standing too close with your potato on a stick on bonfire night, your skin tingled and clothing became warm . People were screaming and crying out for help as either they were on fire or trying to put out flames on someone and catching alight themselves. Many people had lumps of roof tar which had dropped, melted then solidified and stuck to their bodies. The police on duty that day tried to keep people back away from the stand, others braved their way forward in an attempt he rescue anyone coming over the wall. I remember people being carried and placed in the goals at the Bradford End, dozens of others using coats and jumpers to try smother the flames.
In just over 4 minutes the main stand at Valley Parade was alight and thousands had to make their escape. I remember seeing some of the players and club staff on the balcony above the tunnel dropping their babies and children to be caught by folk waiting below, and in turn joining the rest of us in the middle of the pitch. I remember looking back to where we had been stood watching the game from several minutes earlier, and fans where shouting up to the shed of commentators and TV camera crew asking them to stop filming, some even picked up bricks and threw at them. As much as it was hurting people there to witness such horrors, the TV crews carrying on filming were only doing their jobs.
The sky became very grey very quickly, and thick black smoke billowed from the steel uprights of the stand.Thankfully there was no wind that day to fan the flames any more or any further than what was already occurring. The smoke began to effect everyone on the pitch and as it became more apparent that some people 3 maybe 4 or 5 had lost their lives many of us turned to look for a way out over the corners of the Kop and far end of the Bradford End down the old 'cat steps' on to Midland Road. Leaving the ground was taking some time, no one hurried, no one pushed, no one really seemed to panic, I think everyone was just in so much socked at what they were witnessing. More and more people were helping others to safety alongside the emergency services, who in turn were doing everything they could to try and contain the fire and smoke.It was then that the reality and the enormity of what was unfolding began to hit home, the rescued people layed on the pitch were still, lifeless, clothing was placed over their heads and you knew they had died and that the body count could be as much as 10 maybe more. it was time to leave. But, how? where?

         ( Bradford City fire 11th May 1985)

There were large ques forming to leaving down earth banking's and it wasn't very safe. I relocated all my friends who I had spent the morning with we decided to make our way out of the Bradford End exits when they became open. This meant going a little closer to the engulfed stand but we new we could get out on to the street pretty quickly that way. The exit doors at that end were much like a barn door, and were locked down just after kick off weren't open ed until around 15 minutes before the end of a match. We kicked at the wood panels and broke down a gap of around 18 inches or so, just enough to scramble under and get out of. I guess several hundred left that same way, then the gates and locks were broken down and opened and more people couple leave. Everyone was in shock. Nothing much was said,There wasn't much panic just disbelief at what had happened. We made our way to the back of the brick building in the corner of Valley Parade road ,some of the players and staff had gathered there, all still in kit, one or two with a blanket around them or a blazer. They were trying to find family and friends.
I made my way down a side street with some friends and we waited sat on a wall, hoping our other friends would find us as this was the way we would usually leave after a game and head off back into town. I'm not sure how long we waited maybe an hour or so, the ground was still full of black smoke, it seemed as if every fire and rescue and ambulance in the country was in attendance. I saw many people I knew asking if we had seen their family members and friends. We decided to take a couple of our younger friends back in to town so they could find a phone box and either arrange for a lift or reassure family they were ok and make their way home. So, we headed off on foot and decided to regroup back at the Birdcage Pub in the interchange which had been our meeting point that morning. After an hour or so of being at the Birdcage, we all decided it would be best to try make our way home. Travel on public transport would be difficult we knew with all the disruption, but we thought this best. One of our group was still missing. It was some several weeks later we got confirmation he was ok, he was one of many who had wondered off in shock that day and had been missing for days/ weeks on end.
I remember getting home to Queensbury and regrouping with a few friends, We were lost for what to do so went our separate ways to go home and change from the smoke stained clothing we were in Everyone in the village was asking what had happened, none of us felt like talking about things we had seen that day I went round to my best friends house, still filling up with tears, trying to make any sense of what had being going on. It all seemed so unreal, It wasn't a dream it had happened I was sure of that but it didn't seem real. As I watched the footage on the BBC  9 o'clock news I filled up again. I remember someone saying "It's no good crying about it there's nothing you can do."
For several days following sleep was a cat nap here and there. I went into work Monday morning, my boss game over and said " anytime you feel like it and you want to walk out, just do so I don't mind." No one asked me what happened in work, they were all in shock at what they has seen on TV or read over the weekend on the papers, I would not have been able to speak about what had happened that day anyhow. When the final numbers of how many people had died were released things hit me once again. I had been luck to be able to leave with cuts and bruises. many people I knew had major injuries, many had lost loved ones. My best friend at the time was taken quiet ill a couple of days later and was in hospital with many of the injured from that day so I was hard going in to visit for several weeks, and being constantly reminded of the horror I had witnessed that day in May.
I did what I could collection wise to help raise funds for the burns unit over the following months.
I never made it to the opening match  at Valley Parade when the ground was rebuilt, I couldn't go, not just to watch City, but to any football for several years. I gave up playing and took up rugby league instead. This was my way of dealing with things. I attended the memorials held every year on 11th May for the first 15 years,  then I missed a few due to work commitments. I try to make the last home game of the season when ever possible as I have done this time around for the 30th anniversary.
Its hard at times to think about what happened that day, let alone talk about it. Its just as hard trying to forget. Every year remembering the 56 football fans who went to a match and never came home brings back more vivid memories of those days and my childhood love of football.
Valley Parade will always be my second home and I hope that one day enough money is found by the club, the City of Bradford or someone in football to buy the ground out right and give ownership to the club and fans as a permanent reminder of those 56 fans who lost their lives.

The 56-RIP always remember.

Lindsay England.

Friday, April 24, 2015

Partner Club Manchester Canalsiders ARL in the spotlight.

                                    Partner Club Manchester Canalsiders RL in the spotlight.

As part of our LGBT History Month events this year we did some coaching sesssion work with our partner club Manchester Canalsiders ARL. Alongside this our Mascot CASTRO went along to a filming day and featured in the Canalsiders promo video.

 It's Here .... Project Awesome ....
Watch the new Manchester Canalsiders ARLFC Recruitment Video promoting Rugby League which is Awesome. Want to have a go why not come along to our next training session Saturday 10am Wright Robinson Sports College Gorton Manchester.
Everyone is welcome at Canalsiders regardless of Age, Ability. We are a fully inclusive team and have teams for both Ladie's & Gent's, Full Contact to Non Contact we have versions of Rugby League for everyone.
This video is dedicated to Lisa Nuttall one of our team mate's who sadly passed away suddenly last weekend. RIP Lisa a lovely lady, a great player who will be missed.
We'd like this video to go Viral and show the world that Rugby League is Awesome whether you're at a Grass Roots Club or Super League, we hope everyone on the page will share this and use ‪#‎RLisAwesome‬ ‪#‎RLNewEra‬
Thank you to Andy Green who filmed this for the Club from Manchester Vault visit their You Tube Channel here

Canalsiders events can been seen here:

If you would like to try something active come along and try new sports including Rugby League with Manchester Canalsiders ARLFC. We are also holding a Youth Rugby League / Euro Tag Training Sessions & Tournamnet as part of Sports May if you know any 13-18 year olds that would like to take part drop us a message and we'll let you have all the info, Posters & Flyers coming soon.

We are also delighted to announce that Manchester Canalsiders ARLFC have been awarded a Manchester Pride have awarded the club a Community Grant. These funds will be used to get LGBT people into Sport including Younger LGBT Youths & Women who may feel that as an LGBT person / Female there is no room for them in Sport, our aim is to create an environment where everyone is welcome regardless of Age, Gender, Sex or religion.
We are looking forward to using these funds to help devlop our community and the people within it get fit, have fun and make new friends.We would like to thank the Manchester Pride Community Panel for selecting our club and awarding us this grant

If you are interested in joining the club, whether to play or volunteer please email

Friday, April 17, 2015

                                                   JUST A BALL GAME? AGM 2015.

Nite Nite Hotel
18 Holliday Street, B1 1TB Birmingham, United Kingdom

12:30pm -14:30pm Saturday 18th April 2015
This year's JBG? AGM will be held on Saturday 18th April at Nite Nite Hotel Birmingham.
All are welcome.


Sunday, March 15, 2015

JBG? Ladies qualify for FA Futsal Cup Finals

                                             JBG? Ladies qualify for FA Futsal Cup Finals

After a marathon 20+ week league season JBG? Ladies Futsal Team secured a place in the FA North Semi Finals of the Futsal Cup. The team were placed in Group B alongside Liverpool Futsal Ladies, Middlesbrough Ladies FC and Loughborough and finished as group winners and now progress to the FA Futsal Cup Finals which will be played in London in June at the iconic Copper Box Arena home to many of GB's Olympians in 2012.

The JBG? Ladies narrowly lost their first game 2-3 to Liverpool Futsal Ladies and were disappointed that this was due to a refereeing technicality, the JBG? team dominated possession throughout with Chantelle Parry scoring a brace.
Next up were Loughborough who had hit 5 in their opening game. Once again JBG? controlled the game, this time team manager Steph Ashton-Smith popping up with a fine hat trick and Ali Hindley adding a forth. The Loughborough team worked hard with a 2v 1 upfront to close down the scoreline but JBG? earned 3 points with in the end a comfortable 4-2 win.

So, with all 4 teams on 3 points each there was a big 'cup final' to be played out in the last game between FA WPL team Middlesborough Ladies FC and JBG? with a win needed to progress.
The 'Boro Ladies started strongly and raced into 3-1 lead at half time. It was the JBG? indiscipline letting them down with them being reduced to 4 players when Ali Hindley was ordered from the field of play after receiving 2 yellow cards in quick succession. The JBG? Ladies dug in and forced the score back level to 3-3 with just a further 4 minutes left on the clock. As the team were about to call a time-out keeper Leanne Ashton-Smith made a fantastic double save but in doing so was knocked unconscious and play was help up for several minutes while treatment was given. Ashton-Smith was deemed fine to continue and the game was restarted.
The JBG? Ladies pushed forward at every opportunity and brushed the woodwork on no less than 3 occasions. Then with just 1m 49 seconds left on the clock, the pressure was rewarded and defender Melissa Cook found inspiration and in turn the back of the net to make the final score 4-3 and JBG? Ladies were had booked their place in the  FA Futsal Cup Finals 2015.

Friday, January 30, 2015

Media story from our new partner club PNE Women.

PNE Ladies strike up just a ball game? partnership

JBG? Founder Lindsay England with PNE manager Luke Podmore after establishing the link-up.
Preston North End Women are delighted to be able to confirm a partnership with Just A Ball Game? ahead of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender History month, next month.

The partnership will see the club become an official club partner with the organisation, who were set up to challenge homophobia in sport.

JBG have kindly presented the club with a range of their merchandise which will now be displayed at our home games with the team wearing JBG t-shirts in the warm up.

The partnership comes just days before LGBT History month, which is held every February in the UK. It first started in America, with them holding it in October every year, and over time has become more and more popular within the UK. LGBT History month is a chance to celebrate people in the past, people in the present and the future who have been LGBT.

PNE Manager Luke Podmore was one of the first people at the club to be involved with the organisation of the partnership and thinks it’s another great campaign to be associated with.

“It’s a great organisation to be involved with. Like I’ve said in the past when we’ve worked with Stonewall, football is a great carrier of messages and it’s great that we can now help them reach out to people and raise awareness of what they do.”

“Alongside us there are a few other clubs at a similar level to us that are involved with Just A Ball Game? With us being higher up the footballing pyramid, we are able to reach quite a wide audience and I think teams like us have a responsibility of passing these messages on to combat homophobia in sport. Hopefully more clubs will now follow suit and promote the good work the organisation is doing.”

PNE players Chelsea Flanagan (l) and Nikki Emery (r) with Lindsay England after the partnership was confirmed.
Lindsay England, the founder of Just A Ball Game?, believes that the partnership will already help build an ever growing list of club’s supporting the campaign.

“It’s very encouraging for another women’s side to come on board and join forces with us. It’s great that we’ve got a campaign out there that is challenging homophobia in sport and, at the same time, raise awareness about LGBT issues. The more teams that come on board, the merrier and we need to build on what we call a gay/straight alliance. It doesn’t matter to us if anybody that supports our campaign identifies themselves as LGBT or whether they identify themselves as being straight, the more people on board supporting us, the better.”

“It’s very important to us that clubs high up in the pyramid support the campaign because we all need those role models, especially in the women’s game as it’s very hard to break through in what is such a male dominated sport like football. Birmingham City are the only team in the Women’s Super League to support us and we need those role models higher up supporting what we do because it shows that people are respected in the game. Lianne Sanderson and Casey Stoney are two of the stars at international level that have  come out, along with our patron Andie Worrall, and it shows they’re not afraid of showing who they are and are also great role models for young LGBT that might be a bit shy in telling their friends or their parents. It gives them someone to look up at and aim to be like and say ‘look these people are in that environment and they are happy’ and ultimately it should lead them to become a better player or better all-round person.”

For more information about what Just A Ball Game? do, visit their website -