England

Hillsborough stories: James Philip Delaney

James Delaney Image copyright Hillsborough Inquests

James Delaney, a car worker from Ellesmere Port, travelled to the match with several friends, including fellow victim James Hennessy.

This is the full statement to the inquests from his brother, Nick Delaney:

James Philip Delaney was born on 10 October, 1969. He was aged 19 years old when he was killed at Hillsborough.

James went to Our Lady's Catholic Primary School, Ellesmere Port, and then attended Ellesmere Port Catholic High School where he sat his O levels and passed them all.

James's love for animals was evident from a very young age. He used to bring our mum worms that he had found in the gardens as little presents.

I think he was six years old when he found a hedgehog in the garden with a broken leg. In an attempt to mend the broken leg, he used two lollipop sticks held together with elastic bands around the hedgehog's leg.

He wanted to look after the hedgehog until it was better, so he placed it into a box and sneaked it into the house, placing it under his bed. He fed it and gave it milk and water.

A couple of days later, our mum was changing the bed and found fleas. After investigation, she found the hedgehog was under James's bed and to her surprise it was "on the mend".

When James was a young teenager, he developed a love for pigeons and had a pigeon loft.

One day our dad said to Mum, "I am sure I can hear pigeons in this house, Eileen". Lo and behold, there were three of his favourites on the headboard of his bed squawking away.

Now onto his ferrets. He took one into school one day and managed to get away with having it with him for most of the day until some of the girls in the class saw something moving around in his jumper and started screaming.

My mum and dad were soon called to the school but there was no harm done as he was just so concerned about leaving his pregnant ferret at home.

He left school and went to work in a garage to train as a mechanic. He stayed at the garage for about three years before he went to work at Vauxhall Motors, Ellesmere Port, as a production operator.

James loved his cars, especially his first car, which was a bright yellow Opel Manta, which he later somehow managed to downsize to a brand new Vauxhall Nova.

'Adored him'

I was only nine years old when James died, but I remember that he was a fantastic older brother and always had time for me. He never seemed to be bothered that I always wanted to hang around with him, and would take me everywhere and carry me everywhere on his shoulders.

He called us "Etch and Sketch" and "me to him". I adored him so much.

I had the advertisement board from my Subbuteo game set above my bed with 'Etch or Sketch' written on it and I still have it to this day.

The day he was killed, I asked my brother if I could go with him to the game, as I knew there was a spare ticket. He replied "No" firmly and I remember feeling gutted and just looked down to the floor.

He could see I was upset and before he left, he said, "I will take you to the final, Sketch". I had a smile from ear to ear.

But that final never happened.

I remember when he passed his driving test, he took me for a drive in the car, which I loved, especially the yellow submarine (the Opel Manta).

Growing up, he really enjoyed playing football but he was born with a club foot and had a number of operations to fix it. As he got older, his foot got stronger and he managed to force his way into the school football team as well as the local football team.

Due to the difficulty with his foot, he got new wellington boots and had to wear them in the house to get used to them as he kept falling over.

When he became a teenager, he really got into basketball and preferred playing that than football.

My parents never recovered from James being killed, and this was the same for my sister. I was only a nine-year-old boy on 15 April, 1989, coming from the most loving and happy family.

Our house was an open door to friends and family, with everyone always welcome and the house was always buzzing. Mum always had a pan of stew or soup for anyone who may pop in.

Afterwards, however, things were never the same.

'Mother's instinct'

I have a very vivid memory of 15 April, 1989 that I will always remember. At around 4.00pm, 4.15pm that day, Mum shouted to me to come back into the house while I was playing in the garden.

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Media captionNick Delaney: "My family was never the same after that day"

I went in, and she cuddled me like there was no tomorrow. I believe it was her mother's instinct, and I believe at that time she knew her other son, the rock of our family, was fading away from us.

The next day, the front door closed and everything had changed in a day. Catherine, my sister, lost in a cloud of fog, and lost her way; her health has not been great from that day till this.

I went from a boy to a man, it took my innocence, my childhood, my brother and my family. I had to care for my mum and dad. My mum's hard fight against the loss of her son because of Hillsborough came to an end in August, 2003.

My dad's health spiralled and as a young man, I had to care for my dad when he got Alzheimer's. He lost his fight and passed away in February, 2007.

'Fun-loving'

James, Jim, Jimmy, as he was known, obviously loved animals. He loved his Lurcher called Zac and enjoyed hunting, walking many miles where he loved being out in the country.

Hugely popular in Ellesmere Port, known as a fun-loving character who loved to have a good craic, enjoying life to the full. He enjoyed his holidays and socialising and loved his clobber (his clothes) and always trying to have the best labels.

James loved Liverpool from an early age, but was no fanatic. He wasn't a regular to every game, and he would go to Anfield as often as he could.

An ideal dream for James would have been for him to be a gamekeeper in Ireland, out in the beautiful countryside, with lots of animals around him.

Even though I was only nine years old on that dreadful day, I still miss my big brother, as much as if it was yesterday.

On his gravestone is written, 'A friend to so many. You gave us so much joy. You have shortly left your mark.'

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