Following on from our remembrance of SYACL secretary Darren Warner on Sunday, we join with Bradford City Disability FC, one of our teams, as they remember the horrific fire at their stadium on Saturday, 11 May 1985 which killed 56.
The Bradford City stadium fire occurred during an English League Third Division match between Bradford City and Lincoln City at the Valley Parade stadium on Saturday, 11 May 1985, killing 56 spectators and injuring at least 265.
The stadium, long-established home to Bradford City Football Club, was known for its antiquated design and facilities, which included the wooden roof of the main stand. Previous warnings had also been given about a major build-up of litter in the cavity below the seats in the stand. The stand had been officially condemned and was due to be replaced with a steel structure after the season ended.
The match against Lincoln City, the final game of that season, had started in a celebratory atmosphere with the home team receiving the Football League Third Division trophy.
At 3.40 p.m., TV commentator John Helm remarked upon a small fire in the main stand; in less than four minutes, with the windy conditions, it had engulfed the whole stand, trapping some people in their seats. In the mass panic that ensued, fleeing crowds escaped on to the pitch but others at the back of the stand tried to break down locked exit doors to escape, and many were burnt to death at the turnstiles gates, which had also been locked after the match had begun.
There were many cases of heroism, with more than 50 people later receiving police awards or commendations for bravery.
The disaster led to rigid new safety standards in UK stadiums, including the banning of new wooden grandstands. It was also a catalyst for the substantial redevelopment and modernisation of many British football grounds within the following thirty years.
Bradford City continues to support the burns unit at the University of Bradford as its official charity.