Fateful date sealed foot­baller’s fate as the fi­nal vic­tim of 1974 pub bombs Brother re­calls man he knew as fam­i­lies’ cam­paign con­tin­ues to call for jus­tice

Birmingham Post - - NEWS - Andy Richards News Ed­i­tor

BILL Craig’s brother Jimmy kept him­self fit into his 30s, thanks to his love of football. Once a tri­al­ist with Birm­ing­ham City FC, he played for sev­eral lo­cal Sun­day league teams and some­times took part in two matches on the same day.

So it may well be that his fit­ness ini­tially helped him fight the ter­ri­ble in­juries he suf­fered in the Birm­ing­ham pub bomb­ings.

Jimmy sur­vived for al­most 20 days un­til even­tu­ally suc­cumb­ing to his wounds and be­com­ing the last of the 21 vic­tims to die.

A new in­quest into the 1974 bomb­ings is to be held but Bill and other fam­i­lies of the vic­tims are out­raged that the iden­tity of the IRA bombers will not be ad­dressed.

The coroner pre­sid­ing over the hear­ing has ruled that the is­sue of the per­pe­tra­tors will not fall within the scope of the in­quest.

That’s why fam­i­lies in the Jus­tice4the21 cam­paign group are seek­ing to raise £100,000 on a crowd­fund­ing site to pay for a ju­di­cial re­view chal­leng­ing the coroner’s de­ci­sion.

Among them will be Bill, who today re­mem­bers the foot­balling brother so cru­elly ripped from his fam­ily.

“We came as a fam­ily in 1952 from North­ern Ire­land to live in the Ward End area of Birm­ing­ham,” he says. “We both worked at the Wolse­ley Mo­tor Works, Ward End.

“Jimmy worked there for 19 years and in that time made many friends. He so­cialised most nights with friends in the Bar­ley Mow pub in St Mar­garets Road.

“He had many friends out­side work in the area we lived.

“Jimmy’s love in life was football. He played for the Wolse­ley football team and sev­eral other teams in Birm­ing­ham.

“I even have mem­o­ries of Jimmy play­ing a football match Sun­day morn­ing, com­ing home for his Sun­day roast, then go­ing back out again in the af­ter­noon to play an­other game.

“In the 1960s Jimmy tri­alled for Birm­ing­ham City Football Club, but un­for­tu­nately wasn’t taken on.”

It was a date that led to Jimmy head­ing into the city cen­tre on the fateful night of Novem­ber 21, 1974, al­though Bill didn’t know that im­me­di­ately. His brother didn’t say where he was go­ing when he left their home at 6.30pm. He never re­turned.

“The next day, I went in to Birm­ing­ham city cen­tre to make enquires at Steel­house Lane Po­lice Sta­tion and the Gen­eral Hospi­tal but this proved neg­a­tive,” says Bill. “I ar­rived at the Ac­ci­dent Hospi­tal at ap­prox­i­mately 4pm that day.

“I asked if they had a man in there aged 34 with a beard. They said ‘Yes, but you can’t go of into the ma­jor in­juries unit yet. Rel­a­tives of the other vic­tims are go­ing hys­ter­i­cal at the Ir­ish nurses.’

“Af­ter an hour had passed, I was al­lowed in and yes, it was my brother Jimmy. He was on a life sup­port ma­chine.

“Later, I had to go home and tell my par­ents. Trag­i­cally, due to ill health, they never got to see Jimmy again.

“Jimmy was the last vic­tim of the pub bomb­ings to pass away. It was on Mon­day, De­cem­ber 9, 1974. He’d fought for life. He’s hung on to life.

“His funeral took place a week be­fore Christ­mas and there were hun­dreds of peo­ple lined up out­side Wolse­ley Mo­tor Works, where Jimmy worked.

“I found out af­ter­wards that, prior to the night the bombers struck, a let­ter had came to our home ad­dress for Jimmy.

“Trou­ble is, Jimmy could read nor write. “He would only ever ask my­self or our mother to read to him due to em­bar­rass­ment and on this oc­ca­sion my mother had read the let­ter to him.

“It was from a lady ar­rang­ing to meet him in Birm­ing­ham city cen­tre on that Thurs­day night. “She sur­vived but was in hospi­tal, af­ter hav­ing suf­fered an eye in­jury, for sev­eral weeks.” nei­ther

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