Twenty five years ago on this date, 56 people tragically died when a fire erupted at Bradford City’s Valley Parade ground.
The day was supposed to be one of celebration for Bradford who had just won the Third Division trophy. However as the game against Lincoln progressed, a fire began just before half-time in the stand that ran alongside the pitch. As you can see in the video above, the small fire quickly consumed the entire stand. Spectators in the stand ran on to the pitch for their safety. While the stand continued to burn and become engulfed in flames, some of the City supporters sang songs and celebrated on the pitch.
However as the fire continued to burn, the scenes at Bradford’s Valley Parade turned into a panic. It only took four minutes for the entire stand to be engulfed in flames. One supporter found his way on to the pitch despite burning from head to foot, but he later died in hospital. Presumably he’s the one that’s shown in the above video.
While many City supporters were running around the pitch, what they didn’t realize was that there were bodies who were trapped inside the stand and behind it. Some of the turnstiles and gates were locked. Twenty seven supporters were found dead near Exit K. Some supporters were crushed when they tried to crawl under the turnstiles. In all, more than 265 supporters were injured that day in the worst fire disaster in British football history.
The cause of the fire was a discarded cigarette and a dilapidated wooden stand, which had survived because the club did not have the money to replace it. Underneath the stand, there was considerable rubbish which had been swept under there for years and was a fire risk that the club had been warned about in the past.
The inquiry into the disaster, chaired by Sir Oliver Popplewell and known as the Popplewell Inquiry, led to the introduction of new legislation to improve safety at the UK’s football grounds. One of the main outcomes of the inquiry was prohibiting the construction of new wooden grandstands at all UK sports grounds.
Our hearts go out to the families and friends of the Bradford City and Lincoln City supporters who died that fateful day. It was a tragic event that never should have occurred.