A WIRRAL man told his wife he loved her before heading off to a football match from which he would never return.

More families of the 96 Liverpool fans involved in the tragedy are being given the chance to speak about their loved ones as the new inquests into their deaths resumed today, Tuesday.

The new inquest into Britain's worst sporting disaster began last month.

The original accidental deaths verdicts in 1991 were quashed in the High Court in 2012 after a long campaign by the fans' families.

The counsel to the inquests today read out the pen portrait of 50-year-old Raymond Chapman, from Prenton, written by his widow Joan.

Mr Chapman, who worked as a machine fitter for a company making spark plugs in Upton, was described as a “tower of strength” by his family.

The court heard Mr Chapman – father to Karen and Andrew – nearly didn’t go to the fateful match on April 15, 1989, because he did not have enough vouchers to qualify for a ticket.

It was only when a friend gave him a ticket at the last minute that Mr Chapman decided to go. He went with four friends – only two returned home.

In her written statement, Mrs Chapman told the jury how she and her husband had planned to meet friends later that day after he returned from the game.

His last words to her were “See you tonight, love you, bye”.

“He said ‘You go with them, I might be back late with the traffic’. As you know, he never came back.

“I now have three lovely grandchildren that he would have been proud of – they have kept me going.”

In a statement from his children, Andrew and Karen, Mr Chapman was described as a “family man” who worked hard all his life to provide for his family.

“He was a tower of strength in our times of need and always found the words and actions required to help us through life.”

The court heard how before his tragic death, Mr Chapman and his wife had started going for weekends away on their own, after the children had grown up.

“They were looking forward to their retirement.

“All this was so tragically taken away, changing mum’s life forever – something she never came to terms with, not to be able to say goodbye or that she loved him one last time.”