Two brothers are revealed as the football yobs who laughed as they appeared to mock little cancer victim Bradley Lowery’s memory at a Sheffield Wednesday game today.
Dale and Drew Houghton were pictured at the 3-0 defeat, with one holding up a zoomed-in picture of the Black Cats fan in home kit on his phone, while the other laughed at him for brazenly displaying the picture for all the stadium to see.
Bradley Lowery died in 2017 after the young Sunderland fan was diagnosed with a rare cancer neuroblastoma when he was just 18 months old. His story touched many hearts across the world – during his brave battle he was even a special guest of BBC’s Sports Personality of the Year in 2016.
His heartbroken mother Gemma said ‘this is so hard for me to see’. In a Facebook post by The Bradley Foundation she added: ‘What ever happened to cancer has no colours, let alone respect for a family that lost their baby to cancer.’
South Yorkshire Police have launched an investigation. A Sheffield Wednesday spokesperson told Mail Sport: ‘We are aware of the images circulating and have launched an immediate investigation together with South Yorkshire Police.
Dale’s former employer JRI Orthopaedics came out and condemned the pair’s actions which have ’caused upset to so many people’. The company said he had not been employed by the business for some time.
Sheffield Wednesday fans Dale and Drew Houghton were seen appearing to cruelly mock late Sunderland fan Bradley Lowery
Dale Houghton (pictured) is revealed as one of the brothers who appeared to mock little cancer victim Bradley Lowery’s memory at a Sheffield Wednesday game
Drew Houghton (pictured) and his brother laughed as one of them held up a photo of Bradley Lowery after a 3-0 defeat
Bradley Lowery’s heartbroken mother Gemma (pictured) said ‘this is so hard for me to see’ after football fans were spotted laughing and appearing to mock her six-year-old son’s death, as police launch investigation
The six-year-old’s bravery became an important symbol for the Black Cats and saw Lowery strike up an enduring friendship with Jermaine Defoe
‘We roundly condemn this completely outrageous and utterly deplorable behaviour. We can only apologise for the undoubted distress caused to Bradley’s family and friends.’
The behaviour of the two men could see them banned from the club, fined and/or face criminal charges.
Responding to the club’s statement, charity added: ‘Thank you for your support and quick condemnation of these actions, it really means a lot to the family.’
As the image circulated on X, formerly Twitter, supporters were quick to decry the hurtful nature of the behaviour, with many condemning the act as ‘disgusting’ and calling for lifelong bans for the two ‘low lives’.
One fan wrote: ‘This is disgusting… Bradley Lowery will forever be an incredibly young boy, don’t disrespect the dead.’
A fundraising page has since been set up to raise money for the Bradley Lowery foundation.
In response to the page, the charity posted: ‘Thank you so much for your support, it’s very upsetting to see the image being shared in this nature, but we know, that isn’t the view of the majority.’
Bradley tragically passed away in 2017 after a battle with neuroblastoma
Two brothers Dale and Drew Houghton (pictured) are revealed as the football yobs who laughed as they appeared to mock little cancer victim Bradley Lowery’s memory at a Sheffield Wednesday game
Dale’s former employer JRI Orthopaedics came out and condemned the pair’s actions which have cause ‘upset to so many people’
In a Facebook post, Bradley’s mother Gemma said: ‘What ever happened to cancer has no colours, let alone respect for a family that lost their baby to cancer’
Bradley and England’s Jermain Defoe at the World Cup Group F qualifying soccer match between England and Lithuania at Wembley Stadium on March 26, 2017
One of the brothers held up a picture of the young supporter brazenly as they both laughed to themselves
Bradley Lowery and his mother Gemma at his 6th birthday party at Welfare Park, Blackhall in 2017
Heartbroken Gemma Lowery was surprised by Gleeson Homes staff as she unveiled ‘Bradley Lowery Way’ a street dedicated to her late son in Blackhall, County Durham
Taking a stand against the two yobs, the page read: ‘In light of the recent, sickening images circulating from the football fixture between Sheffield Wednesday FC and Sunderland AFC at Hillsborough on Friday 29th September 23, Sheffield Wednesday fans would like to raise funds for the Bradley Lowery Foundation to show our support and stand up against this type of behaviour in football.’
The child’s strong ties to his club – as well as close and enduring friendship with then-Sunderland player Jermaine Defoe – saw him take to the pitch as a mascot, as well as win Match of the Day’s goal of the month after finding the back of the net against Chelsea in December 2019.
Lowery’s battle was near-lifelong after being diagnosed with Stage 4 High Risk Neuroblastoma, a rare and aggressive form of childhood cancer, at 18 months, and his bravery saw him capture national attention and raise awareness for the illness.
Bradley’s mother set up the foundation in August 2017 following his death. It has since raised millions for treatment of seriously-ill children and their families across the UK.
Bradley’s hero and friend Jermain Defoe has previously spoken about how the young boy has left an everlasting spark in his life, adding: ‘There’s not a day that goes past where I don’t think about him.’
‘He will always be in my heart, for the rest of my life,’ he said on the ‘Jermain Defoe: Outside The Box’ podcast.
Bradley pictured at Sunderland in a home kit shirt signed by players
Sheffield Wednesday issued a statement saying the club is looking into the incident
The six-year-old Sunderland fan died in July 2017 after a long battle with neuroblastoma
Jermain Defoe with England mascot Bradley Lowery at England v Lithuania in 2017
‘There’s not a day that goes past where I don’t wake up and think about little Bradley, because his love is genuine.’
Defoe was speaking to the boy’s mother Gemma at the family’s home just south of Sunderland, and during the emotional reunion, he revealed that seeing Bradley suffer in his cancer battle ‘changed me as a person’.
Defoe became close with the Black Cats supporter when they first met when the London-born player was leading Sunderland in September 2016, after the youngster was chosen to be a mascot for the day.
The young fan was keen to find Defoe and compare their matching football boots. The former West Ham and Spurs player said: ‘It was something I’d never experienced before.’
The pair remained close from that day, both at Sunderland’s Stadium of Light ground, and an England game against Lithuania at Wembley in March 2017, four months before Lowery’s death. Defoe was also regularly pictured alongside Bradley in hospital.
The Foundation expressed their delight in Defoe’s return to Sunderland after he left Rangers.
They wrote on Facebook: ‘Bradley will be smiling from cheek to cheek. He’s coming home, he’s coming home, he’s comingggggg. Jermain is coming home!!!’
Defoe scored 37 goals in 93 matches during his first spell at Sunderland between 2015 and 2017.
Defoe regularly visited Bradley in hospital as he received treatment and the Foundation expressed their delight at the player ‘coming home’ to Sunderland
Lowery was awarded MOTD goal of the month for his effort against Chelsea in December 2016
Neuroblastoma is a rare cancer that affects children and usually starts in the abdomen.
Around 100 children, who are typically under five, are diagnosed every year in the UK.
The disease affects approximately 800 new children annually in the US.
In around half of cases, neuroblastoma spreads to other parts of the body, particularly the liver and skin.
Neuroblastoma’s cause is unclear. There may be a family-history link.
The main symptom is usually a lump in the abdomen, which may cause swelling, discomfort or pain.
If the disease affects the spinal cord, it can lead to numbness, weakness and loss of movement in the lower part of the body.
Treatment depends on how advanced the cancer is and the risk it will return after therapy.
Surgery, and chemo and radiotherapy, are commonly used.
Source: Cancer Research UK
The youngster had been in and out of hospital in 2016 – with countless surgeries, intensive care treatments and chemotherapy and radiotherapy sessions.
The ‘little superhero’ passed away in his parents’ arms on 7th July, 2017, and football clubs across the country shared a minute’s applause before their matches in a show of respect for the youngster.
Bradley’s passing prompted an outpouring of supportive messages from politicians, to former England captains.
His beloved Sunderland FC penned an emotional tribute to him the day of his passing and shared it on their social media pages.
The then Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn tweeted his condolences, while Match of the Day’s Alan Shearer described his life as ‘inspirational’.
In 2021 Bradley’s family again touched the hearts of their fans after they welcomed the birth of a baby girl.
Gemma, from Durham, gave birth to baby Gracie-Mae in November that year at Sunderland Royal hospital.
The parents announced the pregnancy in May, sharing a picture of baby clothes with the words ‘handpicked for Earth by my brother in Heaven’ alongside her ultrasound scan.
Neuroblastoma develops from specialised nerve cells left behind from a baby’s development in the womb and affects around 100 children every year in the UK.
The Bradley Lowery Foundation aids research into this rare disease and childhood cancers and is currently developing plans to support a £600,000 holiday home in Scarborough.
Speaking in the wake of Bradley’s passing in 2017, Dr Guy Blanchard, chair of Neuroblastoma UK, said: ‘All in the neuroblastoma community will be saddened to hear the news of Bradley’s death.
‘Bradley’s story raised significant awareness of a disease that is responsible for one in six of all children’s cancer deaths.
‘Through the world-leading research funded by Neuroblastoma UK, into improving both diagnosis and treatment of the disease, we will find a cure for neuroblastoma.’
Carl and Gemma Lowery have welcomed their third child. Pictured: The parents and their son, Bradley, who battled stage four neuroblastoma until 2017
In a social media post for The Bradley Lowery Foundation, Gemma wrote: ‘Baby Lowery number 3 on its way… Bradley is going to be the best guardian angel to his little brother or sister’
At this year’s FA Cup final, a Manchester United supporter was arrested with a public order offence and taken into custody after an image circulated of James White, of Warwickshire, wearing a Red Devils jersey printed with the number 97 on the back of the shirt, and the phrase ‘Not Enough’ above it in reference to the 97 victims of the 1989 Hillsborough disaster.
After pleading guilty, White received a four-year ban from football and an indefinite ban from his club meted out after his sentencing.
The Wednesday fans’ act came just hours after Wednesday owner Dejphon Chansiri published an elaborate statement detailing his reasoning behind no longer putting money into the club – a decision met with widespread uproar by supporters.
One reason given by Chansiri as he demanded fair treatment from his ‘selfish’ fans was his disapproval over their conduct.
‘As a club we have made many statements about the conduct of supporters, and those who have broken the regulations could lead to us receiving fines from the FA,’ Chansiri.
‘Some clubs have been fined up to £100,000 for breaking the regulations and of course this is something we do not wish to see at Sheffield Wednesday.’
Chansiri cited earlier pitch invasions and fan protests but new laws around ‘tragedy chanting’ or related ‘gesturing and displaying’ of offensive messages based on ‘football-related tragedies, which causes significant distress to the victims’ families, survivors and affected-club supporters’ could see the club penalised for instances such as Friday night’s.
At this year’s FA Cup final James White was arrested on a public order offence and later charged with displaying threatening or abusive writing likely to cause harassment, alarm or distress for taunting victims of the Hillsborough disaster