Bradford soccer club remembers fire victims

Families of the 56 football fans who died in the Bradford fire have said the service to mark the 30th anniversary of the tragedy was “humbling”.

More than 1,000 people gathered in the sunshine in Bradford’s Centenary Square to remember those who died and the hundreds who were injured when fire destoyed the main stand at the Valley Parade ground on May 11, 1985.

Many of the fans who gathered wore Bradford City’s distinctive claret and amber colours as they listened while the 56 names were read out to the tolling of the bell in the City Hall clock.

Among those reading the names was John Helm, the ITV commentator who described the unfolding chaos as flames quickly engulfed the wooden stand shortly before half-time while the home team played Lincoln in an end-of-season clash.

Fifty-four City supporters lost their lives, along with two Lincoln fans.

Fans who gathered to lay wreaths said the service brought back terrible memories but was a “wonderful” act of remembrance.

Georgie Dempsey-Moore, 46, lost her father Derek Dempsey in the disaster. He was the same age as she is now: “This is just wonderful, although it has brought everything back. It just feels like it was last week.”

As well as the 56 people who died, more than 200 people were taken to hospital following the blaze, many with terrible injuries.

The 1985 inquiry into the tragedy headed by Sir Oliver Popplewell concluded that it was an accident, probably started by a spectator dropping a cigarette into rubbish that had accumulated under an old timber stand.

But the build-up to yesterday’s anniversary has been overshadowed by a new book by Martin Fletcher, whose father, brother, uncle and grandfather died in the fire, which claims that the fire was one of nine that occurred at businesses owned or linked to the club’s then chair Stafford Heginbotham.

Mr Popplewell said he stands by his ruling, there was no evidence of arson.


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