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Bradley Lowery’s heartbroken mother Gemma has slammed the ‘low lives’ who appeared to mock her six-year-old son’s death at a Sheffield Wednesday game, as police launch investigation.

Two brothers Dale and Drew Houghton were revealed as the football yobs who were pictured at the 3-0 defeat laughing as one of them held up a zoomed-in picture of Bradley who died in 2017 due to a rare cancer

The young Sunderland fan was diagnosed with 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. 

In a Facebook post, Bradley’s mother Gemma said: ‘This is so hard for me to see,’ and added: ‘What ever happened to cancer has no colours, let alone respect for a family that lost their baby to cancer.’ 

Gemma later thanked the football community for their support and said ‘understandably people are angry, if I wasn’t so upset I’d be angry to’, but she added that fans should let the police ‘deal with the low lives’.

South Yorkshire Police have launched an investigation into the pair. 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. 

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

Two Sheffield Wednesday fans were seen appearing to cruelly mock late Sunderland fan Bradley Lowery

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’

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.’

Bradley’s family said Durham Police had visited them to check they were ok and had been assured that Yorkshire police were dealing with the situation and ‘taking it very serious’. 

The behaviour of the two men could see them banned from the club, fined and/or face criminal charges. 

In a statement the family said: ‘Bradley was and still is well loved in the football community, which I’m eternally grateful for, but I must ask that everyone lets the police do their job, and deal with the low lives. 

I want to thank Sheffield Wednesday, for their quick condemnation, and the support their fans have shown. Like we always say, CANCER HAS NO COLOURS, and as we all know it can affect anyone at any time.

‘Thank you all for your kind words, it has really helped and let’s do what we do best at the Bradley Lowery Foundation and turn this negative into a positive. Let’s share this beautiful iconic photo.’

Responding to the club’s statement, Bradley Foundation charity said: ‘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

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

The man held up a picture of the young supporter brazenly as they both laughed to themselves

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


It’s All Kicking Off is an exciting new podcast from Mail Sport that promises a different take on Premier League football, launching with a preview show today and every week this season.

It is available on MailOnline, Mail+, YouTube , Apple Music and Spotify


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