Hillsborough stories: Michael David Kelly

Michael Kelly Image copyright Hillsborough Inquests

A 38-year-old warehouseman living in Bristol, Michael Kelly travelled to the match on a Liverpool Supporters Club coach.

This is the full statement to the inquests from his daughter, Joanna Kelly:

I, Joanna Kelly, will say as follows on behalf of the Kelly family:

Michael David Kelly was born on 1 March, 1951, and he died aged 39 years.

My mum and dad met in Torquay in Devon whilst they were both working there in 1975. They had a whirlwind romance and got married.

They were both young. Dad was just 24 years old.

They set up home in a flat in Torquay and I came along shortly thereafter.

Sadly, their marriage did not work out, they separated when I was still a baby, but they remained good friends.

Dad moved away from Torquay but Dad and Mum still communicated by letters back and forth and Dad would often come and visit me.

It depended on where he was working of course, but he never forgot my birthday and of course at Christmas he sent a card and, inside each card, he always sent me money, telling me to buy myself something special.

'Great personality'

I only have lovely, tender memories of my dad. I suppose this is because I was only 13 years old when he died. He did not live to see me through my teens.

Also, I did not see him very often but, when he came to see me, he made me feel special.

He made a real fuss of me and I just loved him coming because I could show off to everyone and be a princess whilst he was around.

He had a great personality and he had the ability to make people talk and laugh. He loved music and I think he was a rebel at heart.

I remember on one occasion when he was visiting me, Mum had seen a spider in the kitchen and she screamed 'It's huge!'.

My dad jumped up from the chair and said, 'Don't panic, I'll catch it'.

The only problem was the spider had escaped from the pot and landed on my dad's foot and he froze, petrified. He had to ask my mum to help him.

I found out that day that my dad, yes, he was human and, yes, he was afraid of big spiders, but we had such fun, Mum teasing Dad about his fear of spiders.

I think my dad may also have been shy about showing off.

'Fun and laughter'

I remember another occasion when he came to visit me. There was a great atmosphere in town. There was a street carnival and the participants were trying to get members of the public to come up and dance on their float.

They tried to get Dad to dance. Well, you should have seen him run. He got hold of my hand and we both fled into a friend's house, ran up the stairs and straight into the bathroom where we shut the door and laughed.

I associate fun and laughter and joy with my dad. The photograph best depicts my dad as I remember him.

I feel the loss of my dad profoundly. He and I were robbed of a relationship, from my growing into a teenager, a woman, a mother and welcoming him and meeting my two children, his grandchildren, and watching them grow.

This is the second statement about Michael Kelly from his brother, Stephen Kelly:

Hillsborough victim, one of the 96, in death he became body number 72.

Also, the last Hillsborough victim to be claimed by his family. Yet another statistic.

All descriptions that identify body number 72.

His name was Michael David Kelly. He was born on 1 March, 1951, St David's Day.

I make this statement at the request of the coroner with a view to providing some personal background information about my brother.

Mike's dad's name was Patrick, his mum was Jean, his sister was Joan, who remained an avid campaigner until her own sudden and untimely death, 8 February, 2001.

He also had a brother Stephen. I am Stephen, and one of the 96 was my brother.

In life, he was an individual. In death, he is a number. I want to remove that sequence of numbers from him. I am here today waiting to reclaim my brother.

Mike was two years older than me (my sister, Joan, was five years older than me). When we grew up, I shared a bedroom with Mike. I always felt safe when I was with him. He was my confidant and my safety net.

Mike was a quiet man, very much a loner who kept to himself. He was happy with his book reading - he could practically read War and Peace in one sitting and I was always very envious of that.

'Hooked on Liverpool'

He enjoyed novels, especially horrors and crime stories. He also loved crossword puzzles and cricket, and he always watched a few of Lancashire's games during the summer months.

We both had a very big interest in music, and John Lennon was our man. Mike also loved Bob Dylan, Eric Clapton, The Stones, The Animals, I could go on all day.

And of course there was the Reds. As I am an Evertonian, that is where the brotherly love stopped, at least for Saturdays during the season.

I never had Mike's passion for watching football, I always played.

Mike was too slow. I'm sure that came from the team he watched.

I remember him going to watch games early on when Liverpool was in the second division, at the start of the Shankly era and Mike was hooked.

When I was about nine years old, I found a picture of a Liverpool player, Ian St John, and put it on my bedroom wall.

Mike saw it and made me take it down. He told me he wanted to be the only Liverpool supporter in our house, which is how I became an Evertonian.

Ironically, Mike later turned my two sons Red.

Like all Merseyside football fans, we went to games together, and I have to admit it was mainly Liverpool in European or derby games.

Mike never came to Goodison Park with me so much, only for the derby games or against Manchester United, as he loved to watch Georgie Best. We both went to Old Trafford together a couple of times as we both were fans of George Best.

As we became young men, Mike began an apprenticeship (when he was about 15) as a toolmaker in a local factory in Liverpool, much to our mum's pride, as it was a good job.

It was also good news for me, as Mike started to give me pocket money, although in return I had to do some of Mike's chores at home.

However, Mike hated the tool-making job and decided to join the Navy, as he wanted to see the world. When he was 19, he went off to Gravesend for training and was soon off on his trips.

I think it was at this time that Mike found his own true potential.

'Promised a parrot'

I realised at this time what an important person he was, by his absence. My mum missed him so much, along with my sister Joan, and I missed my pocket money and all the fights over football.

I used to write to him every week and tell him the scores, team news, et cetera. He always promised me a parrot from Africa. I was stupid enough to believe him and did whatever he said, just so as he wouldn't forget the parrot.

Mike being Mike, it never arrived, but that was him, always winding me up, which was another ability he had.

But it was during this time, as I say, I noticed how important he was to all. I used to read the Liverpool Echo and the shipping section would have locations of various ships and details of when and where they were due to dock.

I would tell my mum and she would always ask were there any wars going on out there. My mum never relaxed until Mike returned home with a bag of dirty washing and some fags for her.

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Media captionSteve Kelly: "I have come to claim my brother back. He was more than just a number."

After he left the Navy, Mike, like so many, struggled to get work in Liverpool.

He worked in a factory that eventually closed. He was then off again looking for work all over the country. The work was mainly seasonal and low paid, yet he still sent my mum a few bob each week.

It's like a pension, she would say, a fact she always reminded me of, especially when I was always trying to borrow money from her, and I still hoped that they had African parrots in Bournemouth.

'Learn the truth'

During this time, Mike met Marilyn, and they married and had a daughter Joanna. Sadly, the marriage did not work out.

Mike did keep in contact with them and went to visit Joanna in Basildon.

Sadly, since the disaster in 1989, I have not had any contact with her. I did not know her and felt uncomfortable attempting to make contact, as she may have thought I was doing it because we had lost Mike and we were using her as some sort of a substitute.

I think of her often and always wonder, does she think of her dad, especially as it's always on the TV and in the newspapers about the disaster.

I hope she was too young to see all the press coverage at the time, and in seeing the efforts of so many to seek the answers to what happened at Hillsborough.

I hope by the end of these proceedings she will learn the truth about what happened to her dad.

She needs to know Mike, her dad, was not a hooligan. He got caught up in something out of his control, something he could not have envisaged and, therefore, not prepared for.

Mike was such an experienced football fan and I still torment myself wondering how Mike became a victim of the dreadful events of 15 April, 1989.

Mike moved to Bristol in about 1985. Around the time of Hillsborough I was really pleased for Mike as he had settled in Bristol and found a good job with National Freight, working nights in the distribution warehouse.

This was after many difficult years of high unemployment during the '80s.

I like to think now and again that he would have settled with someone who would look after him, as Mike was the type of person who always looked out for others.

His only concerns were, 'Have I got a ticket for Saturday and is my mum okay?', and probably in that order.

'Much missed'

Thanks to what happened on 15 April, 1989, life has been such a struggle for all the family members and survivors of Hillsborough.

Therefore, each and everyone who lost their life or a loved one, or simply attended a football match, is a victim of that awful day.

I pray every night that everyone's efforts over these 25 long years allow people to come to terms with Hillsborough.

As for Mike, he was a real man, a father, a son, a brother, a friend. In some ways, I did not realise how close we were until he was gone, and I still miss him.

Mike was not just one of the 96, he was not just body number 72, he was our Mike, much loved and much missed.

I said earlier I have come here to reclaim him. I hope the decision of this inquest allows me that. Only then can Mike rest in peace.

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