Bradford – 25 Years On…

The 1980’s proved to be a fairly dark period in the history of English football with the involvement of our sides in three major sporting disasters during the decade.

Next Tuesday 11th May 2010, marks the 25th anniversary since the horrific stadium fire disaster that was to change the game we know and love forever.

Bradford City versus Lincoln City was meant to be like every other 3rd Division (now known as League One) fixture played on that fatal Saturday afternoon almost 25 years ago. Except for the little fact of Bradford celebrating promotion to Division 2.

Yet sadly it wasn’t.

It is a well documented event, which many people are aware of, an event that sadly 40 minutes into the game had devastating effects on those watching the game and many a sports fan across the world.

Stupidly or through innocent neglect (if such a thing exists) a fan sat in the main stand at Valley Parade, disposed of a cigarette or match and this fell into a room filled with rubbish, it begun to set alight and what happened next had such a devastating effect.

56 people died in this stadium disaster, 56 people too many, but in the way that the Hillsborough disaster, 4 years after this had happened, the effect changed the game forever, thus preventing another occurence of such fatal levels.

I personally have seen the video of the disaster as part of a fire awareness course, and frankly it is such an emotional and terrifying video to watch, the fire spread so quickly and the initial images show that those in the ground are unaware of what is actually happening close by.

The people who lost their lives will never be forgotten and a memorial (pictured below), has been used as a mark of respect to those who were taken from our football family.

The stadium remained closed for almost a year and a half as the people of Bradford and its football club looked to rebuild their lives, their club and their communities after this horrific ordeal.

The positive, if any, from this disaster was a fund-raising appeal, raising £3.5 million to help with the after effects of the disaster and allow Bradford to rebuild what it had lost.

It also, thankfully, led to an inquiry, known as the Popplewell inquiry, led by Sir Oliver Popplewell, we concluded in his findings that football stadia needed to change for the greater good.

This resulted in legislation being passed that prohibited the use of wooden structures in football stadia, an aspect deemed common at many stadiums across England and Scotland at that time.

No blame was identified and the local people of Bradford deemed it to be a grave misfortune. The club continued to rebuild and move forward following this inquiries conclusions.

I have been to Bradford and count them among the warmest fans I have encountered when travelling to opposing football grounds and on Tuesday 11th May my thoughts will be with the good people of Bradford.

Take a moment to think of those who lost their lives, as it so easily could have been you or I.

As I mentioned I have seen the video and I advise you to view it, though I didn’t wish to add it to my blog for obvious reasons, but please take a moment to listen to the BBC Radio Report – The Following Day and let me know your thoughts.

Rest In Peace all 56 brothers and sisters, gone but never forgotten.

Gaffers

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