As some of you will remember scotland worst sporting tragedy occured on January 2nd 1971 at Ibrox Park after the traditional Ne'erday Glasgow footballl derby. 66 fans died in a crush on stairway 13. It was , for a long time, believed by the wider public to have been caused by fans leaving the ground turning back up to celebrate a last kick of the ball equaliser. Witness testimonies showed this not to be true.
As the 40th anniversary of what became known as "The Ibrox Disaster" approaches, a number of comemmorations have and are being organised. Including a restoration of the gravesite of the only female to die on stairway 13 ,18 Year old Margaret Ferguson from Maddiston Falkirk. A week before the tragedy Margaret had gone to one of the players houses in Linlithgow to give him a doll she had made for his new born baby girl, a memorial bench will also be placed at Margarets grave.
Several events have happened and will be happening to remember The Markinch Boys, 5 schoolfriends from Markinch in Fife who died togather on stairway 13, memorial football trophies have been presented to the School the 5 boys went to. A memorial grove in "Trees for Life" has been started to remember all 66 who died, there are many individual tragic stories of the victims, a 9 year old boy from Liverpool died, a husband who wasnt even supposed to be there perished. A boy who survived because his Father threw him over a fence to escape the crush and then watched his Father die standing up.
Again, on the 4oth Anniversary, The Glasgow derby will take place at Ibrox.
I was 13 at the time and was at the game in the Celtic end and although never knew till later was shocked at how something like that had happened at a match,I had moved from the Oatlands to Dalmarnock which as you may know had and still has a big Rangers following,my pal was in the stairway where it happened and managed to get out and I must say as a boy at the time I was very happy to see him when I got home and even though we still are t2o different sides of the divide we still keep in touch,sad day indeed.
Joined: 25th Jan 2009
From: German/French/Swiss border town on the River Rhein
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I was in the RAF stationed near Lincoln at the time and knew that my 23 year old sister, a fanatical Rangers supporter, would be at the match. I rang my dad as soon as I heard but had to wait a while till he rang back saying she was OK and had been at a different area. Terrible tragedy; long forgotten by some of us but burned in the memories of those in attendance and the families of those who fell victim that day.
Wait a minute ... I've got my eye on a burd.
... Some try to tell me thoughts they cannot defend ...
Joined: 2nd Aug 2003
Member No.: 235
I remember that day as though it was yesterday. I was only months married and my husband was at the match that day and I had spent the day with my Grandparents. If I remember correctly, it was a foggy miserable day outside. I hurried home and waited anxiously as I imagine many other wives and mothers and fathers and children did. Thank God he did come home.
The grief of so many must have been unbearable as the news came through.
Joined: 24th Feb 2005
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A very sad day indeed, that many of us will remember. I remember watching the events unfold with disbelief. Did my wee bit with fund raising for the victims families during my paper rounds in the Royal.
I was proud to be a Weggie when I seen how both sides of the religous divide could unite to help each other. If only....
Joined: 21st Aug 2010
Member No.: 8,874
I was in St Enoch's Square waiting for a taxi back to my cousin's house, I had come up for the Christmas and New Year. A car drove over a bottle lying in the road and a chunk of glass cut my ankle, I didn't even feel it, it was a man also waiting for a taxi noticed I was hurt. At first I thought it was nothing much but when I went to walk I fell down, so I was taken to Victoria Infirmary by taxi and as we got there the taxi driver said 'there must have been some big clash between the supporters there are so many injured people here'. It wasn't until I got inside and saw the carnage, but what got to me was the amount of small children that were badly injured, I remembered thinking Why on earth would you take a kiddie to such a contentious football match?. I have never forgotten that day especially when I later learnt of what had happened, and the terrible loss of life. My deepest condolences to the families who lost their loved ones.
Joined: 23rd Nov 2003
From: Glasgow, Scotland
Member No.: 664
When the news flash came on the TV I was in a panic as my husband, his brother and bro-in-law were at the match. The family were all phoning each other trying to find out where in the Park the accident happened and had we heard anything from those at the match. But there were no mobile phone's in those days and we were all sick with worry. My sister in America phoned when she heard the news, but noone could tell her anything.
I was so relieved when I saw my husband coming up the street safe and sound and he did not know there had been a terrible tragedy because they had left right after the final whistle.
We were all heart sick when we heard how many had been killed, it was so unreal for that to happen at a Football Match.
Heather.......I'm tartan. Alba gu Brath. Saor Alba
Joined: 27th Oct 2006
Member No.: 3,936
Was at the game. Usually stood behind goals and exited stair 13.
Bit late so ended up standing near main stand .
Car was parked Bellahouston Park so never knew how serious diaster was. Heard bits on car radio but did not realise how bad till we got back to Pub. Phoned Family from Pub who were worried sick. All huddled round radio,in stunned silence, listening as death toll increased. Few tears that night and each year since.
Every year I remember and still get emotional.
Support and kindness from Celtic friends still live with me.
You don't need a weatherman To know which way the wind blows
Joined: 14th Jan 2006
Member No.: 2,833
It was an awful day to say the least. The news reports were patchy to begin with and my mum was really panicing as we didn't know what had really happened. My dad had gone to the game as a Celtic fan and he knew nothing about it until he got to the pub. We didn't have a phone back then either, so you can imagine how up to high dough my maw was, same as us kids. It was awful then and still is. People going to a game of football and losing their lives? I'm a Celtic fan and my dad was too and he was secretary of a local Celtic supporters club and he organised a whip round to send to the relatives of the deceased. That was the sad day that we all saw the game for what it was, a game. May they all rest in peace.
Joined: 8th Jan 2008
From: Central West NSW
Member No.: 5,289
Funny that so many people here are applauding the positive camaraderie between both sides immediately after the disaster and yet, forty years later, we still have the same bigots from both sides who perpetuate the 'war' !
The aftermath of January 1971 was the perfect opportunity to wipe out sectarianism between Celtic and Rangers supporters but the fanatics didn't take up the opportunity to put the 'war' to sleep.
How sad that the deaths and injuries on the day could not quell the hatred !
Forty-four years on now, but still a very important and sad day in Glasgow's history. The following is from The Telegraph on the 30th anniversary:
The Ibrox Disaster of 2nd January 1971 - in which 66 spectators died and 145 were injured in a crush on Stairway 13 following a Rangers v Celtic match - was replete with tragic ironies, not all of them evident at the time. The accident, then the worst to have afflicted British football, followed one of the most tranquil Old Firm derbies ever witnessed.
The capacity crowd of 85,000 was by today's standards unregulated and the followers of both sides were largely accommodated on the sweeping terracing which made Ibrox the biggest club ground in Britain. They could - and did - bring in with them copious supplies of alcohol. Yet the occasion was curiously calm, as though the weather had given the crowd a cue, and there were only two arrests for drunkenness.
There was no wind and a mist from the nearby River Clyde drifted through the ground so that the fans behind each goal could only dimly see their counterparts at the other end. Celtic were, as usual under Jock Stein, league leaders and Rangers were well adrift, so much so that even had they won the game it would hardly have had any impact on the championship.
The contest itself was patchy, drifting towards a goalless draw until the melodramatic events of the final minute when Celtic's left winger, Bobby Lennox, drove against the crossbar and their right-wing genius, Jimmy Johnstone, reacted first to head what seemed certain to be the winning goal. But in the few seconds which remained after the restart, Celtic conceded a free-kick. Dave Smith, Rangers' cultivated half-back, delivered it precisely into the box where Derek Johnstone miskicked but Colin Stein shot hard for the equaliser.
It has been said - and so often that it has now taken root as myth - that Rangers fans leaving in disgust at Celtic's goal turned back on hearing the roar of acclaim for the equaliser, to collide with a wave of jubilant spectators who had seen Stein score. This correspondent has been guilty of perpetuating the image, in print and even on an official audio tape history of Rangers, but it was not so.
As a witness testified subsequently at the official inquiry: ". . . the crowd just caved in, as if all of them were falling into a huge hole". Nobody can state for certain what triggered the crush on Stairway 13 but the likelihood is that someone stumbled and fell to begin a lethal cascade which twisted the guide rails out of shape with the pressure of tumbling bodies; others were condemned to die pressed upright against the pitiless wooden side fences, which were buttressed by railway sleepers.
Another strange feature of the disaster is how long it took for it to register on those not immediately on the scene. I was present at the game as a schoolboy and I left by Stairway 19 after walking around the top of the terracing past Stairway 13, which was notorious for alarming surges as fans hurried to beat the queue at Copland Road Underground station, the nearest to Ibrox. Experience taught that it was better to walk a mile or more to a quieter, safer station.
Stairway 13 was hidden from the walkway around the top of the terracing by a concrete baffle, designed to break the flow of the crowd on to the stairs. I passed that spot several minutes after the final whistle - by which time the disaster had certainly occurred only a few yards away - but my clear recollection is of a policeman standing there, joking with the spectators shuffling by. He had a walkie-talkie, yet was clearly unaware of the carnage behind him.
I was clear of the ground when the first ambulance sirens were heard. Like most people, I assumed there had been trouble between the two sets of fans. Word of the accident spread in slow waves, the death toll mounting with each ripple. With teenage heedlessness it never occurred to me to contact my family until about 8.30pm, when someone came into my youth club with a special edition of the evening newspaper proclaiming 35 dead. I found a callbox and phoned my mother, who was alternately frantic and furious.
Others were not so lucky and there was understandable anger amo ng the survivors as well as the families of the victims that such a calamity could have occurred. In 1961, on Stairway 13, there had been two deaths and 44 injuries, in 1967 11 were injured and in yet another incident in 1969, 30 were hurt, two seriously.
Yet Ibrox was regarded as one of Britain's safest stadiums, with spacious concrete terracing and easy access. Rangers may have been slow-witted before 1971 but afterwards they steadily reconstructed their home. By the mid-1980s Ibrox was, barring a small standing area, a prototype for today's designer grounds. The final irony, though, was that it took the catastrophes of Heysel, Bradford and Hillsborough before British football woke up to the truth that it was killing its crowds.
Willie Waddell, the Rangers general manager, who oversaw the rebuilding of Ibrox, said: "The lesson is that we must never allow such a disaster to happen again."
As the relatives of the dead of 1971 congregate for a memorial service at Ibrox this afternoon, some will reflect that so long as tens of thousands gather to watch football, the price of safety is eternal vigilance.
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