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Obituary: Jim Lawlor’s bad break cut Bradford City career short
Former Bradford City defender Jim Lawlor has died aged 78.
The popular Irishman made 176 league and cup appearances for the Bantams between 1957 and 1962, when a broken leg brought a premature end to his career at the age of 28.
He even managed the team for a couple of matches after he retired.
Born at Finglas Bridge near Dublin, Lawlor joined Shamrock Rovers from Transport FC before coming to England to try his luck with Doncaster Rovers, where his brother John also played.
Unfortunately, he had to wait two years for his league debut and, after making only ten league appearances, he returned to Ireland in the 1955 close season to sign for Coleraine and the following September he represented the Irish League against the Scottish League.
He decided to return to England and joined City in March 1957, immediately gaining a regular place in the side.
The highlight of his six year spell at Valley Parade was the FA Cup run in the 1959-60 season when City reached the fifth round before crashing out 5-0 against that season’s league champions Burnley in a replay at Turf Moor in front of a 52,850 crowd.
His career ended when he broke his leg in a reserve match at Sunderland in May 1962 – the final match of the 1961-2 season.
Lawlor said: “I was left with one leg shorter than the other so that was the end of my career. Some people get caps and medals – I got a broken leg. It happened when I was at my peak. I was only 28.
“I enjoyed my time at Valley Parade. There was a great atmosphere in the place. We had a good group of players and we all played for each other. We got on very well together.
“That was the good thing about our era in the game. We got little or nothing from it, but we enjoyed it.”
Lawlor, who lived in the Wrose district of Bradford, left Valley Parade in February 1963, but returned in June 1964 as a full-time pools agent and, when manager Bob Brocklebank left in the October, he doubled up as reserve team trainer.
In fact, he also took charge of the first team for two matches the following month, masterminding wins at Charlton in the League Cup and Newport County at home in the league.
Lawlor left City again in 1965 and spent nine years as a pools promoter with Bramley Rugby League club before becoming development manager at Bradford Northern.
He became an active member of Bradford City and Park Avenue Ex-Players Association, looking after the welfare of sick and needy ex-players.