England

Hillsborough stories: Anthony David Bland

Tony Bland Image copyright Hillsborough Inquests

The 96th and final victim of the Hillsborough disaster, Tony Bland was a labourer from Keighley, West Yorkshire who travelled by car with friends, who survived. He died on 3 March, 1993, nearly four years after Hillsborough, having become the first patient in English legal history to be allowed to die by the courts through the withdrawal of life-prolonging treatment

This is the full statement to the inquests from his parents, Allan and Barbara Bland:

Anthony David Bland (known as Tony) was born on 29 September, 1970 at Airedale General Hospital near Keighley in West Yorkshire to proud parents Allan and Barbara Bland and sister Angela.

Tony's childhood was happy and carefree. He loved family holidays to the coast, especially Filey, where Tony loved the cobbled harbour, walks along the seafront, and jam and cream do-nuts and waffles, and he loved to go into the penny arcade on the seafront in the evening.

As a child, Tony loved to ride his bike and his dad taught him to swim at the local pool, which he really enjoyed. In later years, Tony, or 'Blandy', as he was known, and his friends would spend their days at the river swimming and playing.

Tony was always at his happiest when outdoors, often only showing up for meals which weren't very often to his liking, so he would have a Weetabix and head back out.

His mum called him 'the Weetabix kid' as it was all he seemed to live off.

Tony was a healthy child. The only time he sustained an injury was after he was run over by a car. His pelvis was squashed so severely that he spent six weeks in hospital.

There were a few minor mishaps. His sister dropped him behind the TV and his dad made him faint while 'play fighting' and he was fed medicine on a spoon by his sister one morning whilst his parents were sleeping, only the medicine was sherry and Tony was only three years old.

So, the result was a drunk child being walked up and down the street on doctor's advice so he didn't go to sleep.

He attended Holycroft, Bronte and Oakbank schools, but he wasn't an academic pupil; struggling with reading and writing, he preferred the active and creative side of school along with any social events.

He was pleasant and a well-liked boy who was always striving to do his best.

'Loved Liverpool'

Tony left school in 1987 and started work at the local paper tube mill.

After going regularly for weeks and asking about vacancies, he was over the moon he now had a job, which he could do just as well as the next person and he had some money in his back pocket. He made new friends and widened his social circle.

Tony's first love of sport was watching his local rugby team Keighley RLFC alongside his dad on a Sunday afternoon. His love of football and Liverpool Football Club had also started at a young age.

He loved to watch them on TV and follow their progress in the newspapers. If he could gather enough money together from his paper rounds, he would go to Anfield to watch them.

His favourite players at the time were Jan Molby and Craig Johnson. Once he was working, his trips to see his team, both home and away, became more frequent and he sold scratch cards along with a friend to guarantee them cup match tickets.

'Loved and missed'

He made many friends in Liverpool when enjoying a pre-match pint at the Arkle pub close to the ground.

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Media captionTony Bland's father Allan Bland spoke to the BBC about his son and his hopes for the outcome of the Hillsborough inquest

Tony's love of pool and snooker developed once he turned 18 and could go out in the evening to the local pub, which at the time was owned by the parents of his best friend; home from home, it couldn't get any better.

The young man we knew lost his life on 15 April, 1989 and died in hospital four years later on 3 March, 1993.

Tony is remembered by many and will always be loved and missed.

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