THE mother of an Ellesmere Port teenager who died in the Hillsborough disaster hugged her youngest son “like there was no tomorrow” as the tragedy unfolded.
James Delaney was 19 years old when he lost his life in Britain’s worst sporting disaster.
His brother Nick today paid tribute to the man he was proud to call his big brother.
Speaking at the fresh inquests held in Warrington, Nick said: “I was only nine-years-old when James died but I remember he was a fantastic older brother and always had time for me.
“He never seemed to be bothered that I always wanted to hang around with him.
“He took me everywhere and carried me everywhere on his shoulders.”
Nick added: “He called us Etch and Sketch – I adored him so much.”
After leaving school James trained as a mechanic and began working as a production operator at Vauxhall Motors in Ellesmere Port.
He had a love of animals and Nick said his brother once found a hedgehog with a broken leg and brought it into the family home, where he helped it on its way to recovery.
He also had pigeons and ferrets and once smuggled one in to school.
Growing up James enjoyed football and basketball.
On the day of the fateful semi-final, Nick had asked his older brother if he could go with him to the game, as he knew he had a spare ticket but James said no.
“Before he left he said, “I will take you to the final, Sketch,” and I had a smile from ear to ear, but that never happened.”
Nick had been playing outside in the garden at 4.15pm, on April 15, 1989, when his mother called him inside.
“She cuddled me like there was no tomorrow,” said Nick.
“I believe it was her mother’s instinct and I believe at that time, her other son – the rock of the family – was fading away from us.”
The family was never the same after Hillsborough.
Nick said: “I went from a boy to a man, it took my innocence, my childhood, my brother and my family.
“Even though I was only nine years old on that dreadful day, I still miss my big brother as much as if it was yesterday.”