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Bradford fire: Some things are bigger than football

This is a story from the FSF archive – the FSF and SD merged to become the FSA in 2019.

Yesterday (Monday 11th May) Paul Keat, chair of Leeds United Supporters Trust, attended the 30th Anniversary Memorial of the Bradford City fire on behalf of the Football Supporters’ Federation. Paul reflects on the day, and what it means to fans of all clubs, below…

The 11th May 1985 was meant to be the kind of day which everyone would love to happen at their own club. Your team crowned champions on a day of celebration, of collective success along with your fellow fans. But for the fans of Bradford City, Lincoln City, and for the whole of British football, it became a day to remember for very different reasons.

A total of 56 people died at the Bradford fire, with more than 250 others injured. Added to this was the death of 15-year-old Leeds United fan Ian Hambridge, in Birmingham, making it a day of disaster in so many ways.

To many the scars are still healing 30 years on. At the service they were there for all to see, even after all this time. They say time is a healer, but it appears the clock is running slower than most in the city with many of the hundreds attending reduced to tears during renditions of ‘You’ll never walk alone’ and ‘Abide with me’.

The amber and claret colours of the Bantams, everywhere. But, if you looked closely you could see those of other teams: Lincoln City, of course, but of neighbours Leeds United, Huddersfield Town, and others from further afield including Crewe Alexandra, Chesterfield, Stoke City, and Manchester City. Football United, in remembrance.

Today wasn’t a time to renew rivalries, it was to stand shoulder-to-shoulder as football fans to appreciate and mourn collectively for those lost in such tragic circumstances. Tragedy is all-too-familiar to fans of our national game with Hillsborough and Heysel indelibly imprinted on our memories, along with past tragedies at Ibrox and Burnden Park.

Ensuing enquiries have changed our game enormously. Modern stadia have been constructed with improved facilities and a greater focus on safety for the fans.

We should all be able to support our teams in an environment that enables us to return to our loved ones afterwards: win, lose or draw. That’s a right all of us have, isn’t it?

After all, some things are bigger than football.

RIP the 56 +1

  • ACKROYD, John Douglas – 32 – Baildon 
  • ANDERTON, Edmund – 68 – Bingley 
  • BAINES, Alexander Shaw – 70 – Bradford 
  • BAMFORD, Herbert – 72 – Bradford 
  • BULMER, Christopher James – 11 – Burley-in-Wharfedale 
  • COXON, Jack Leo – 76 – Bradford 
  • COXON, Leo Anthony – 44 – Halifax 
  • CRABTREE, David James – 30 – Bradford 
  • CRABTREE, Harry – 76 – Bradford 
  • DEMPSEY, Derek – 46 – Morley 
  • FIRTH, Muriel – 56 – Baildon 
  • FIRTH, Samuel – 86 – Bradford 
  • FLETCHER, Andrew – 11 – East Bridgford, Nottinghamshire 
  • FLETCHER, Edmond – 63 – Pudsey 
  • FLETCHER, John – 34 – East Bridgford, Nottingham 
  • FLETCHER, Peter – 32 – Gildersome 
  • FORSTER, Nellie – 64 – Bradford 
  • GREENWOOD, Felix Winspear – 13 – Denholme 
  • GREENWOOD, Peter – 46 – Denholme 
  • GREENWOOD, Rupert Benedict – 11 – Denholme 
  • HALL, Norman – 71 – Bradford 
  • HALLIDAY, Peter Anthony – 34 – Bradford 
  • HARTLEY, Arthur – 79 – Bradford 
  • HINDLE, Edith – 79 – Bradford 
  • HINDLE, Frederick – 76 – Bradford 
  • HODGSON, Moira Helen – 15 – Oakenshaw 
  • HUDSON, Eric – 72 – Bingley 
  • HUGHES, John – 64 – Bradford 
  • HUTTON, John – 74 – Bradford 
  • KERR, Walter – 76 – Bradford 
  • LOVELL, Peter Charles – 43 – Bradford 
  • LUDLAM, Jack – 55 – Bradford 
  • McPHERSON, Gordon Stuart – 39 – Bradford 
  • McPHERSON, Irene – 28 – Bradford 
  • MASON, Roy – 74 – Silsden 
  • MIDDLETON, Frederick Norman – 84 – Bradford 
  • MITCHELL, Harold – 79 – Bradford 
  • MUHL, Elizabeth – 21 – Leeds 
  • NORMINGTON, Ernest – 74 – Shipley 
  • ORMONDROYD, Gerald Priestley – 40 – Bingley 
  • ORMONDROYD, Richard John – 12 – Bingley 
  • ORMONDROYD, Robert Ian – 12 – Bingley 
  • POLLARD, Sylvia Lund – 69 – Bradford 
  • PRICE, Herbert – 78 – Shipley 
  • ROBERTS, Amanda Jayne – 20 – Bradford 
  • SAMPSON, Jane – 18 – Leeds 
  • STACEY, William – 72 – Sleaford, Lincolnshire 
  • STOCKMAN, Craig Albert – 14 – Bradford 
  • STOCKMAN, Jane Ashley – 16 – Bradford 
  • STOCKMAN, Trevor John – 38 – Brighouse 
  • TURNER, Howard Malcolm – 41 – Bingley 
  • TURNER, Sarah Elizabeth – 16 – Bingley 
  • WARD, Simon Neil – 18 – Shipley 
  • WEDGEWORTH, Robert – 72 – Guiseley 
  • WEST, William James – 78 – North Hykeham, Lincoln 
  • WRIGHT, Adrian Mark – 11 – Bradford 

+ 1

  • At Birmingham City on the same day – HAMBRIDGE, Ian – 15 – Northampton

Thanks to Leeds United Supporters Trust secretary Danny Murphy for the images used.

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