Tributes flood in for popular football commentator and his wife after devoted couple die in tragic M1 crash

Brian and Judith Bradley, who were killed in Thursday's M1 crash.
Brian and Judith Bradley, who were killed in Thursday's M1 crash.

Tributes have flooded in for a popular South Yorkshire football commentator and his wife of more than 50 years after the devoted couple died together in a tragic M1 crash.

Local football stalwart Brian Bradley, aged 76, and his wife Judith, 77, were killed in a collision on the motorway between Junction 33 for Rotherham and 34 for Meadowhall on Thursday afternoon after their vehicle came off the road and hit a tree.

Brian Bradley

Brian Bradley

The couple, who had two daughters and one grandson, married in December 1961 and lived in the Firth Park area.

Son-in-law John Baverstock said: “They were childhood sweethearts since the 1960s. They were a devoted couple to each other.”

The couple were well-known by hundreds of people involved in South Yorkshire sport, with Judith regularly accompanying her husband to watch local football matches.

Brian wrote a non-league football column for the Sheffield Telegraph and was a well-known figure in local amateur football.

Left, Brian Bradley  receives an award from Ian Cox of the Sheffield Referees Association. Pictured at the Carlton Club, Gleadless  17 January 2008

Left, Brian Bradley receives an award from Ian Cox of the Sheffield Referees Association. Pictured at the Carlton Club, Gleadless 17 January 2008

He was also known as the ‘Voice of Doncaster Rovers’ and was BBC Radio Sheffield’s voice at Belle Vue during the majority of Rovers’ Conference era, as well as being the station’s non-league football expert for many years.

Brian also did online commentaries for the Rovers website between 2003 and 2007.

He had been made president of the H-K-L North Midlands Development Football League just last week in recognition of his ‘dedicated and relentless commitment to local football over the years’.

He was a previous director and treasurer of the Sheffield & Hallamshire County FA, a former amateur referee and secretary of Firth Park Bowling Club.

Brian Bradley in the commentary box next to Doncaster Rovers club historian Tony Bluff

Brian Bradley in the commentary box next to Doncaster Rovers club historian Tony Bluff

Officials from Sheffield & Hallamshire County FA said everyone at the organisation was ‘shocked and saddened by the news’ of their deaths.

Brian Jones, chairman of the Sheffield & Hallamshire County FA, said: “Brian’s work with and in local football, particularly the County Senior League, over the years has been first class, everyone will also remember fondly his work in the past with Radio Sheffield and, of course, he reported on many local games for the local press.”

Brian refereed in the local Sheffield & Hallamshire leagues from 1956 to 1965, before having a break and then rejoining the referees’ ranks from 1970 to 1980.

He worked as chief district auditor and a local newsagent, wrote a weekly column for the Sheffield Telegraph and covered non-league football for Radio Sheffield for 24 years.

His involvement in grassroots football included working as Fixtures Secretary for the County Senior League and chairman of the Midland County FA.

Steve Uttley, a former Doncaster Rovers media manager who knew the couple since 2000, said he had many fond memories of travelling to matches with club historian Tony Bluff and Brian.

“He was the voice of Rovers. He was never down and always happy and we got on really well.

“Me, him and Tony used to travel everywhere together for the away matches.

“In the days before sat-nav Brian was my sat-nav. We were once playing Cambridge and with his directions, we ended up in the middle of a farmer’s yard surrounded by ducks and chickens! He just laughed and just kept laughing during the game.

“He was always a happy person that made trips to Plymouth and places like that never seem long because he was just full of stories.

“He just lived football and Judy was his long-suffering wife! They were a great couple who really complemented each other – they were perfect for each other.

“Judy would come to matches with him. I’m not sure she liked or knew much about football but she loved being with him. They were just a fantastic couple.”

Commentator Seth Bennett, who replaced Mr Bradley as Doncaster Rovers reporter, said: “Brian was always a gent and really kind to me. He was always massively supportive as he travelled the length and breath of the country following Rovers.

“As a kid I remember listening to his non-league round ups and as a adult and colleague I was amazed at the passion at the passion he retained for amateur and professional football.

“A lovely man who departs in a tragic way, but somehow it seems right he leaves with his wife.”

Police are now appealing for witnesses to Thursday’s collision, which involved one vehicle at around 1.55pm on Thursday afternoon.

Police say they believe the couple’s car, driven by Brian, left the carriageway and was in collision with a tree. The couple died at the scene.

*Anyone who saw the incident should contact South Yorkshire Police on 101 quoting incident number 612 of July 2, 2015.