On the 11th May in 1985 a series of tragic events unfolded on what would have been a day of jubilation and success for Bradford City. I personally was too young and was born 13 years later, however the togetherness and real support for each other, underlines how football really is more than just a game.
On a day where Bradford had clinched the league title and had celebrated before kick-off, in what was to be a momentous occasion for the club and the team. Hell broke lose from heaven. Although the day ended so tragically, the bravery of the players and fans underlined what a group of real heroes everybody in that ground was, most who live to this very day. Players rushed to help fans to safety, fans ensured others were safe before guaranteeing their own and although the day ended so tragically, Bradford City fans and players had really given everything for everyone and showed genuine compassion.
It’s now 29 years on, this very day that we remember and respect all the efforts that were given on that day.
Personally, growing up as a supporter of Bradford City has taught me many things, four of them more than others. 1) We never give up no matter what and have a real drive and determination as a club. 2) We realize that football means more to this club than kicking the ball around the pitch, we are a real family. 3) We don’t just support this club, we support everyone who is involved however we can. 4) We really are the most unpredictable team to support in the world. I’m 15 years old and the disaster is almost twice my age in the time which has elapsed. It’s important I believe, to ensure I understand, a part what is such a big area of my life.
I’ve seen us make a League Cup final, enjoy promotion at Wembley and suffer relegation. Even watch us languish in the basement of the divisions and sit agonizingly close to dropping out of the Football League. There’s nothing that can capture me more, move me more and make me feel such raw emotion than Valley Parade falling silent . It brings an overwhelming feeling of sadness, often a tear, yet genuine profoundness to be part of this club. “We are all members of one body”, to quote Bradfordian Writer J.B Priestley.
In our success we celebrate not only together, but with those who perished. They never left us, they still are by our side and never will leave us as long as we exist and beyond. Memories can never be broken or shattered and should not be remembered for the suffering and sadness, but for the joy and happiness they felt knowing they had won the league. Nobody should enter a football ground and never return. They return every time we choose to remember them in our thoughts and our memories. As Bradford City, they are part of us.
Sincil Bank is also a place of sanctity today. The two fans who we lost from the game remain with us here at Valley Parade, an unbreakable bond between us and Lincoln.
For us as a whole, it doesn’t matter whether it is 100 years, 25 or any other number. What really matters to us, is knowing just how much we remember everybody there. We won’t forget.
Bradford and Lincoln together always will remember, but it is always respected to know and see the amounts of care and remembrance we see from neutral perspectives. Two years ago, on the final day of the season, Swindon had won the league with Paulo Di Canio and pre kick-off held up the scarves they had brought in a beautiful, moving display. Crawley Town this season movingly placed flowers in front of our Kop, Josh Simpson the player to do so.
Whether the world chooses to remember it or not is not necessarily what matters. What matters for us, is when the referee’s whistle blows on the final home game, people crowd in centenary square or even come 3:40 on the 11th of May, a small child bows his head for that one minute. It is important that the people who choose to remember it, are never prepared to forget it.
56 fans were lost on that fateful day in the most unfortunate of circumstances, but they remain with us to this very day.
RIP to the 56.
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
You will always, always be with us.