By Brenda Smith
Key Themes: football tragedy, mother's campaign to change law and put pressure on football asscociation
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Brenda and Peter’s son Jonathan was killed in 1991 by a falling homemade goalpost which fell and hit him rupturing his heart. The goalposts were made from scaffold poles that weighed 200lb or more and had been welded. The children playing were in the under 11’s team and probably only weighed no more than 60-70lbs or even less. They were all members of the Football Association which is mandatory. At the time there was no legislation for safety standards for goalposts, and there still isn’t, but now there are some standards that the Football Association has worked hard to achieve, and these have been copied in Ireland and Australia. The whole world needs to be aware of unsafe football goalposts, which is what Brenda has tried to achieve over the last 17 years.
After Jonathan died, and also after campaigning began, another 10 children have died in the UK and others have been injured. Had legislation occurred then these deaths could have been prevented.
Brenda has campaigned vigorously for 17 years in the hope of getting legislation for safe goalposts. She has come close at times to achieving this but still it evades her. In desperation, after feeling that no one else cares, even though the Football Association have supported her in getting safety measures in place, Brenda decided to write a book about the campaign and list the support that she has had from famous footballers and the media that have helped with coverage.
It would have been so easy for her to sit back and say, “Well, I tried! I did what I could” but she didn’t sit back. She pushed and pushed and pushed again to try to get somebody to take notice and realise that the deaths of these children are not just accidents, but the goalposts used are accidents waiting to happen, and the unsafe goals are still out there!!!!!!!!!!!!
The book’s aim is to make parents, carers, football coaches and schools aware of what can happen when safety is ignored. It also aims so show the Football Association that she still needs support to get legislation for safe goalposts.
This is not a paranoid mother, who is frightened of sport. The family love football and support West Ham United avidly, but she wants everyone else’s son or daughter to be safe when playing the game.
About the Author
Mrs Brenda Smith is 53 and the mother of an autistic daughter with complex special needs. She is a wife, mother and grandmother and is employed as a Clerical Assistant with the Civil Service.
Brenda lost her young son in a tragic accident involving unsafe goalposts and has campaigned for 15 years to try to get legislation in place for all goalposts to be safe in an effort to protect other children. She had lost a much loved child and been given a child that needed so much care and attention, and she always will.
Brenda enjoyed writing the book and feels that if she had read a similar book it would have given her the strength and hope that she needed after she heard the news that Laura had such complex special needs.
Jonathan died on Sunday the 13th of January after an unsafe goalpost fell on him and ruptured his heart. That day was the worst day of my life and nothing can put into words the loss that all my family has felt. At the time it was reported to be a tragic accident but it has turned out that is was a needless unnecessary preventable death.
I was to find myself discovering more about football goalposts then I ever thought possible. I have leaflets, diagrams, photographs and booklets on them relating to assembly, fixing use, storage, you name it I have researched it.
Over the next seventeen years I have fought mainly on my own, to get legislation in place so that everyone playing football is safe.
I have already written about the subject in my first book – Good Night Jonathan Good Morning Laura – also published by Chipmunka Publications, but that was more about my feelings than the actual details of my campaign. Also the book only touched on the subject and is more about bringing up a child with complex special needs.
This book contains all aspects of my campaign and the fight I have had to keep the dangers of unsafe goals in the public eye. It contains all copies of relevant support, a summary of the letters I have written, letters of support I have received and newspaper cuttings of my campaign.
I have decided to write this as I am still disappointed after seventeen years that I have to hear of new deaths and accidents from unsafe goalposts. Only the week before I had started to write this, on the 12th February 2008, 6 days before my last meeting with The Football Association, a goalkeeper was killed during a football game with friends when goalposts collapsed and crushed him.
The 37 year old man from Labin in Croatia was warming up when the accident happened. He dived to save the ball but missed and got entangled in the net. As he fell, he pulled the iron goalpost with him and it struck him on the head and spine, killing him instantly.
This news makes me so sad to think that I have wasted the last seventeen years, will no one listen and act to prevent these needless deaths.
OTHER WORKS BY THIS AUTHOR
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