Active and creative Tony Bland - 'Blandy' to his friends - would often travel from West Yorkshire to Anfield to watch his beloved Reds. He journeyed the short distance to Sheffield for the 1989 semi-final by car with friends, all of whom survived. Tony suffered severe brain damage and became the 96th victim of Hillsborough nearly four years after the disaster, when his life-prolonging treatment was withdrawn in an historic High Court ruling.
Tony's father Allan said: "The young man we knew lost his life on April 15, 1989 and died in hospital four years later on March 3, 1993. Tony is remembered by many and will always be loved and missed."
Anthony David Bland (known as Tony) was born on September 29, 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, jam and cream doughnuts 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, 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.
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 Cougars 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 Johnston. 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. He made many friends in Liverpool when enjoying a pre-match pint at the Arkles pub close to the ground.
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; a home from home, it couldn't get any better.
The young man we knew lost his life on April 15, 1989 and died in hospital four years later on March 3, 1993.
Tony is remembered by many and will always be loved and missed.
Rest in Peace