SSE Airtricity League: Bradley: ‘I thought of quitting but support got me through’ 

by Aaron Dunne
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Shamrock Rovers manager, Stephen Bradley, has opened up about his family’s journey with cancer ahead of the Irish Cancer Society’s Relay for Life an event at the Aviva Stadium on September 29.

There was national shock and outrage earlier this year when opposing fans at a league of Ireland match chanted cruel and abusive messages about Stephen’s youngest son Josh (8), who had been diagnosed with leukaemia.

Stephen explains the abusive chants cut even deeper as he had lost his mother to colon cancer in 2016.

Stephen is fully aware of the devastation a cancer diagnosis has on a family but is remaining defiant in the face of the horrific abuse he experienced despite initially thinking of giving up football.

He’s urging everyone to show solidarity and support for anyone affected by cancer by taking part in the Relay for Life event at the Aviva on the 29th of September where hundreds of cancer survivors and their supporters will join together.

Stephen said: “Hearing ‘it’s cancer’ is devastating, your whole world is turned upside down in the blink of an eye. As a parent your job is to protect your kids at all costs. When cancer hits, you can’t protect them at that time and that’s the worst thing.

“I watched my mam pass from cancer a few years back, it was devastating. I always said nothing in the football world could affect me or upset me as much as that – it’s only a job. But that night when the abuse was sung about Josh having cancer it really took me aback. I really thought about quitting, but they’d just be winning if I quit”.

Stephen attests how unwavering support from their community has inspired his family through the toughest times. He said:

“What got us through was the support we felt from all over the country – the letters, the emails, the texts, it was phenomenal. We were blown away by the support that people showed to us, something like that really knocks you, you think how low can people go, but the response reaffirms that there is so much good in the world and this country is incredible for that.”

Stephen urges everyone to come along to the Aviva Stadium on 29th September to celebrate and remember the strength, courage, and resilience of individuals and families affected by cancer in Ireland.

“Having a community pulling together is everything and we have really found that out in the last year. The power of community and support- that’s what the Irish Cancer Society Relay for Life Celebrate and Remember event is all about. Support is vital when you’re going through or grieving from cancer. To know you have support around you, that’s what helps. So, I urge everyone to come along on 29th September to celebrate and remember and show your support to every person affected by cancer in Ireland.”

Averil Power, CEO, Irish Cancer Society said:

“Relay for Life is the biggest cancer fundraiser in the world, with 14 events taking place across Ireland every year. We want to grow this footprint and ensure every county in Ireland has a least one Relay for Life to celebrate and remember those who have gone and those who have survived cancer. The event in the Aviva on the 29th will bring Relay for Life to a national stage. Whether you’ve had a cancer diagnosis yourself, are supporting someone affected, or have lost a loved one to the disease, please come along on the 29th to experience the magic of Relay for Life. Let’s come together in a powerful moment of hope for everyone affected by the cancer in Ireland.”

On the night Westlife’s Shane Filan will be joined by participants as they walk laps of the Aviva Stadium in memory of those lost to cancer, whilst also celebrating and giving hope to the estimated 200,000 cancer survivors in Ireland today. The highlight of the event will be the inaugural national Candle of Hope ceremony, where thousands of candle bags personalised with messages of hope will be lit to celebrate cancer survivorship and remember loved ones lost to the disease.

There are several ways to get involved in Relay for Life Celebrate & Remember. You can take part in the event as a relay participant, or as a spectator watching from the sidelines. If you can’t make the event, you can still pay tribute by buying a candle bag, which you can personalise online or at home with your own message of hope or remembrance, these will be lit during the Candle of Hope Ceremony.

Tickets to this moving event are €15 + booking fee and available at Anyone who has had a cancer diagnosis themselves can join the event as a Survivor Participant and join other survivors to walk the opening lap. Tickets for ‘Survivor Participants’ are completely free.

To buy tickets or learn more, visit

For further information contact [email protected]/ 0876453867

Shamrock Rovers manager, Stephen Bradley and his son Josh (8) who was diagnosed with Leukemia asking people to join them for the RELAY FOR LIFE in the Aviva Stadium.

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