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Last Updated: Tuesday, 25 December 2007, 10:44 GMT
Fire tragedy teams meet up again
Fans look on as the fire engulfs the main stand
More than 200 supporters suffered injuries in the disaster
Bradford City and Lincoln City meet at Valley Parade on Boxing Day for their first league match at the West Yorkshire ground since the 1985 fire.

Some 56 people died and more than 200 were injured when flames engulfed the West Yorkshire stadium 22 years ago.

Bradford manager Stuart McCall and his counterpart at Lincoln, Peter Jackson, were both Bradford players on the day the tragedy struck - 11 May 1985.

McCall said Wednesday's game would be "an emotional occasion".

McCall and Jackson, who was Bradford's captain at the time, will lead the players out before a wreath-laying ceremony in the centre circle and a minute's silence.

'Touching' tribute

Former midfielder McCall, who played for Bradford for 10 years and was appointed manager in May, said many people in the city were planning to attend the game as a mark of respect.

"Obviously with the build-up to it all we have got more people wanting to come than normal," he said.

The two teams met at Lincoln's Sincil Bank ground in September, when Bradford won 2-1.

"It is a time for reflecting, but once kick-off comes at three o'clock the lads have got to get out there like we did at Lincoln," said McCall.

"That was again a touching time before the game. We came out to 'You'll Never Walk Alone' with 20,000 fans and were well respected by everyone.

"It is going to be an emotional occasion - Peter Jackson coming back as Lincoln manager adds to it as well.

Stuart McCall in his Bradford playing days
McCall played for Bradford from 1982-88 and 1998-2002

"We have just got to focus once the tributes have been paid and when kick-off comes the players are aware of their duties and go out there and take the three points."

Among the crowd at the game on Boxing Day will be Paul Firth, a Bradford supporter who escaped the fire and has written a book about that day called Four Minutes to Hell.

He said: "During the minute's silence I will be as close to tears as I'm allowed to be.

"I shall be thinking of 1985, I shall be remembering a lot of images of 1985, I shall be looking across to the other side and by the end of the minute's silence I shall comfort myself with two things in particular.

"One, the certain knowledge that this will never happen again, not just at Valley Parade, certainly not at Valley Parade, but never again at any British football ground of any size. It just will not happen.

"That is the only real comfort for those who lost friends and family that day."

He said he would have one other "special" comfort - his son who was three years old at the time of the fire.

"OK, so he is 25 and as big as me now," said Mr Firth.

"But I came within not many seconds of never seeing his next birthday.

"We have seen a few more - that is my best reward."



SEE ALSO
Bradford remembers fire disaster
11 May 05 |  Bradford City
Memorial for stadium fire tragedy
11 May 06 |  Bradford
Survivors relive lucky escapes
11 May 05 |  Bradford City
Bradford 2-1 Lincoln City
24 Dec 07 |  League Two

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