Brian Christopher Matthews

Brian Christopher Matthews

Age: 38

The oldest of five siblings, financial consultant Brian Matthews made the journey to Hillsborough with friends, all of whom survived. The 38-year-old from Knowsley was passionate about his music, his football and supporting charitable causes.

His widow, Margaret, said: "I just could not comprehend that my funny, loving, artistic, generous, handsome and larger-than-life husband could go to a football match and never come home." Brian's sister Deborah, writing on behalf of the Matthew's family, said: "He was the special one. He will always be our inspiration."

Portrait by his widow Margaret Matthews

Brian Christopher Matthews was the great love of my life. As he took great delight in telling me, I only made it into his top five.

Number four was his 'sheepie' - a sheepskin coat he had been given for his 21st birthday. My, he loved that coat.

Number three was Diana Ross. Number two was his mum, Dora, 'Diddy Dora'. Brian adored his mother and was very close to her.

If Brian and I were tired on a Sunday occasionally and I didn't feel like cooking, she would make us a Sunday roast and pack it all up with the gravy and send it over to us in the car. She was a lovely, funny lady.

The number one spot was reserved for Liverpool Football Club.

I spent most of our marriage at number five, occasionally moving up as high as number three. I never once made it above his mum or Liverpool FC.

He treated me to fabulous summer holidays and we had some very exciting and wonderful family Christmases full of surprises.

He doted on me. I was happy at being number five. I was happy being Brian's wife.

I met Brian on November 19, 1971 in the Halfway House pub in Walton. He was 21, I was just 19. He was my first boyfriend.

He was working as a quantity surveyor with his father, a labourer on the construction of the Royal Liverpool Hospital, while he was also attending night school to gain further qualifications.

In those early years, I was studying for an applied languages degree and twice spent time away studying in Europe. Brian and I kept in touch by writing letters and, once I had completed my studies, he came out to join me and we spent some time travelling together in France and in Spain.

We were very young and after a while we broke up. We were apart for three years, three months and three days before we met again by accident on January 21 in 1977.

Eight days later, Brian proposed to me and we were married on September 3, 1977.

Our first home together was in Fazakerley in Liverpool. By 1980, Brian was working for National and Provincial Building Society, which is now called Santander. He was promoted to be the manager of the Clitheroe branch out in Lancashire.

I was still working in Liverpool at the time, so I would spend several days a week staying at my parents' home in Liverpool, leaving Brian alone in Clitheroe with my dog, Bruno.

Brian had always complained about the dog and told me how much he disliked it; however, during that time they were alone together, he trained Bruno to do tricks and they became firm friends.

Brian later got transferred back to Liverpool so we could be closer to both sets of our parents. I was very grateful for this, as my parents were elderly, and I bought him the season ticket at Anfield as a thank-you present.

When we moved back to Liverpool, we bought the home in Knowsley Village where I still live. Brian left his mark on this house as, to this day, some of his DIY, such as wall lights that he fitted, remain in place.

He was marvellous at DIY. He would just ask me to give him a list of jobs and then, when he was ready to work, he would ask me to put on his favourite LP, by which he meant his favourite song, 'Baker Street' by Gerry Rafferty. He would happily listen to that song and do whatever jobs I asked him to do around the house.

Brian was really artistic and could turn his hand to many different things. I remember him teaching me to make curtains. He was always insisting on trying to teach me to do things, like fix the car or change plugs in the house, but most of the time I had no interest in it at all.

He would ask what I would do if he wasn't there to do it for me and I would tell him I would just pay a handyman to come in and do it, and that's now what I have to do.

Brian was so witty; he could find humour in any situation. There was never a dull moment with him around. I remember my mum once coming home from the doctor with a "description", as she called it.

"Oh, Susie," he told her, as he looked at the prescription form. "The doctor says that you will have to take these once a week for the rest of your life. The bad news is that he's only given you six tablets."

He always lived for today, preferring us to spend money on our foreign holidays, rather than saving it for a rainy day. He quit his job six months before he died and began working on a self-employed basis.

This was a big gamble, but he had built up such a strong reputation within the field of financial services that other companies were very keen to work with him and it turned out really well for him.

He was close to all of his family and I am forever grateful that on the Thursday before he died, we both took the day off work so he and his father could work in our back garden cutting down the hawthorn trees.

They spent the whole day out together working side-by-side. I'm so happy that his dad had that time with him.

On the morning of April 15,1989, I got up early so I could go down to the baker's shop and buy some fresh bread rolls, get some of his favourite meat, which included roast turkey and ham off the bone, so I could make Brian some nice sandwiches to take with him.

I also made him a flask of coffee and I was going to put a couple of Kit-Kats in the tupperware box, as these were his favourite chocolate biscuits, but I was worried that they would melt and ruin his nice sandwiches.

I think back and I wish now that I'd put the Kit-Kats in so he would have enjoyed his last meal more.

I then took him up a cooked breakfast in bed. He got up and left with his friends to go to the match. I kissed him goodbye and watched him go. He waved from the car for a very long time.

Later that night, when he had not returned from the match, I borrowed a car from my brother Tommy and went to Sheffield with his sister Deborah and her partner, Paul, who drove, and we went to look for him.

We arrived at the gymnasium in the early hours of Sunday morning, April 16, and I saw his name on a list. An officer told me that he had bad news to tell me and I thought it was that Brian had been very seriously injured.

In my head, I was wondering whether we would have to make adaptations to the house. It did not occur to me that he could have died and I refused to believe it, even when I was told.

I asked to see him. I remember fussing over him, making his hair look nice. I wanted to take him home with me. I thought that if I could put him to bed and warm him up, he would be okay the very next day.

It may seem a crazy thing for an intelligent 36-year-old woman to have thought, but I just could not comprehend that my funny, loving, artistic, generous, handsome and larger-than-life husband could go to a football match and never come home.

I remember lying in bed and praying not to wake up for five years. I was so lonely without Brian. I would not wish the experience of those early years following his death on my worst enemy.

I took comfort in the thought that God must have had a major project that he needed Brian to take on up there and I knew that Brian would have done a fine job of it with 'Baker Street' playing in the background.

 

Read more

Portrait by his sister Deborah Matthews on behalf of the Matthews family

Our brother, Brian Christopher Matthews, was born on October 19, 1950. He was aged 38 when he was crushed at the Hillsborough football stadium.

Brian was the first born, not only to our parents, Dora and Albert Matthews, but also into our mother's entire family. He was naturally idolised by all his aunties and uncles, and he was the apple of our mam and dad's eye.

Brenda was the next born, four years later, followed by Dianne then Christopher. I, Debbie, am the baby of the family. Brian was also godfather to Brenda's, Christopher's and my sons.

In the early 1960s, Brian was chosen as an altar boy as he and our family were held in high regard by the priests of our parish church, St Mary's RC, where he served for many years.

He was a competent and hard-working student at all subjects, excelling in Maths and Physics. He achieved high grades in 11 O-levels and four A-levels and was selected to take an S-level in Pure Maths, which we later learned was to support the application to Oxford and Cambridge universities.

It was solely due to financial circumstances and being from a working-class family, and certainly not aptitude, which prevented Brian from attending either of these universities.

He gained the accolade of head prefect when in upper sixth at school. He continued his studies at the College of Commerce, then Liverpool Polytechnic. During his studies, he took part-time jobs in the accounts department of Dunlops and as a chef in the GPO.

When the Royal Liverpool Hospital was under construction, he found employment with Alfred McAlpine as a quantity surveyor while continuing with his studies for QS and architecture at night school, gaining more qualifications.

Our dad worked as a labourer on this site, and our mum was a tea lady to the big bosses. She had to address Brian as 'Mr Matthews' when she entered the office. This tickled Brian no end.

Being very numerate, it was no surprise when, in 1975, he landed a dream job as one of the youngest assistant managers at the Burnley Building Society in Castle Street, Liverpool.

He was promoted to acting manager in 1977 and manager in 1980. He moved to Clitheroe in Lancashire where he became something of a celebrity in the town due to his charismatic personality.

He declined a further promotion as area manager as this meant he would have to travel further afield. Sensitive to his wife Margie's needs, as she was commuting to Liverpool where she worked as a VAT inspector, and also that her parents were elderly, Brian applied for a transfer back to Merseyside in 1983.

It was as a thank-you for this move that Margie bought Brian his Liverpool FC season ticket in the Kemlyn Road stand.

He took up the post of manager at the St Helens branch of which was now the National and Provincial Building Society.

His celebrity status continued, as he was a staunch sponsor of the St Helens Show, which has discovered several West End and TV stars.

He was the Simon Cowell of his day, being one of the main judges of the talent competition. After his death, the 'Brian Matthews Memorial Trophy' was established in his honour.

It was here he joined the local branch of the Round Table and raised thousands of pounds for various charities. He was chairman of Help the Aged and supported the RNLI.

He helped organise large-scale firework displays in Sherdley Park where his role was principal safety officer.

In 1987 and 1988, he raised hundreds of pounds personally for Children in Need by collecting donations dressed as a clown before walking from Liverpool to Manchester studios in the early hours, where he was on television.

Through his work, he would collect toys for deprived local children and dress up as Santa Claus at children's parties.

Brian - or 'Brains' as he was affectionately known - had many talents. He had the ability to converse with anybody from any walk of life, be it the lawyers from the local chambers or the street vendor selling the Liverpool Echo outside his office.

He could turn his hand to almost anything, from hairdressing to joinery. He was very artistic, being the interior designer and decorator in our house from the age of 14.

He designed a poster to promote his home city which won him a Blue Peter badge accompanied by a beautiful letter from the producer, Biddy Baxter.

The next part I'm going to read out on behalf of my sister Brenda:

As the eldest child in the family, Brian was revered by our cousins. David, who was two years younger than Brian, was born profoundly deaf. As a teenager, Brian taught him to play chess. When David visited us, the chess board would come out and a game would last all weekend. Karpov and Kasparov had nothing on them. 

Throughout his life, Brian never ceased to study and better himself - though it wasn't all work and no play. He was a wonderful husband to Margie from 1977, whom he adored, but he remained very family orientated.

Christmas was his favourite time of year, when we would all be together, as well as enjoying family Sunday lunches throughout the year, even if he and Margie did turn up for their dinner sometimes at tea time.

He loved to take holidays around Wales with our mam and aunts - as our mother was afraid to fly - and foreign holidays with the rest of us, Barcelona being his favourite city for its vibrant diversity. He loved beach holidays.

He was often mistaken for one of the locals with his handsome Mediterranean looks and his fluency in Spanish, due to his assistance to Margie during her studies for her BA in languages.

In his younger years, he was a fashionista and would set the trend among his friends with all the latest styles in clothing. He loved music, especially Tamla Motown, and Diana Ross was his absolute idol.

He would leave the arm of the record turntable playing her latest records over and over again, until he - and the rest of us - knew every word. He often predicted correctly what would be the next number one in the charts.

Every Sunday evening in the late 1960s, he would bar us from the living room where he set up his recording studio to tape the top 20 from the radiogram onto his reel-to-reel tape recorder, which we still have to this present day.

In his later years, he loved nothing better than to entertain friends and family in his magnificent home, cooking barbecues and impressing us with his Tom Cruise impersonation as he mixed a new cocktail.

He was larger than life itself, and his winning smile would literally light up a room. He left a lasting impression on everyone who met him.

Brian decided on a slight change of career and, shortly before he died, he became a financial consultant for Legal and General.

Although he wasn't there long, he made a huge impact on the people he worked with. We have recently learned that one man was inspired to write a poem for the Hillsborough families.

He described Brian as 'a great man'. Another poem was written to the 96 for the 25th anniversary, and dedicated to Brian by the award-winning poet Sue Gerrard, a very good friend of Brian's from the St Helens store.

Content in their careers, it was time for Brian and Margie to start a family as they both had so much to offer a child. Sadly, Brian was cruelly robbed of his life before this happened.

Brian always strived to do his infinite best and instilled that ethic in all of us. He was a man of great integrity who should have been safe when he went to that match on that fateful day. He was not safe.

The reputation of the fans was besmirched, and we, as a family, have defended Brian's good character for the last 25 years.

We are eternally grateful to the anonymous people who worked on our brother and for the valiant efforts displayed by the fans. For somebody who contributed so much to society, the thought that our brother suffered such an ignominious death is repugnant.

And to add insult to injury, that the fans were described in a broadsheet as 'bestial' is odious.

Dianne Matthews:

Our parents never, ever got over the loss of Brian. They were truly broken. It breaks our hearts to think that they both have gone to their graves with their well-brought-up, impeccably-mannered, articulate son being called a beast.

Before our parents passed away, they once wrote the following:

"My son was so special, he stood out a mile, with a handsome face and a wonderful smile. He was talented, gifted, caring and kind, he was one in a million that son of mine.

"Still forever heartbroken, Mam and Dad."

Also, they wrote:

"Our hearts are full of longing, our eyes are full of tears, our thoughts are full of memories of birthdays of past years.

"Wishing you were still here with us, Brian."

It may be that you are sitting here thinking to yourself that this person sounds too good to be true, almost perfect. Well, he was to us.

Not perfect, but almost. He was the special one. He was our big brother, our mentor, our inspiration. He will always be our inspiration.

 

Read more

You'll Never Walk Alone

Rest in Peace