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1971: Disaster at Ibrox

Sixty-six football fans died after a match between Celtic and Rangers at Ibrox Park.

Initial reports suggested the tragedy had been caused by supporters rushing back up the stairs, after a late Rangers' goal, colliding with people leaving the stadium.

But a public inquiry discounted this theory and said the deaths were the result of the crush of fans pouring down stairway 13.

The disaster remains the worst in the history of Scottish football.

Your memories so far

This is the first time I have put in print my experience as a 16-year-old.

I was with a group of friends and can't even recall Celtic scoring but both I and [my friend] Shug Armstrong decided to go to the rear of the terrace to make a quick exit after the final whistle.

I can recall watching the final minutes on my tiptoes at the back of the terrace near exit 13 when Rangers scored the equaliser, and we rejoiced.

The kick-off was taken and the referee blew the final whistle.

" I remember moans and shouts for the people behind to stop pushing, I remember people tumbling over the top of us to where ever "

William Orr, Scotland

We sped to the exit and the usual crush developed which was nothing unusual.

As we went down the stairs what was apparent was that as we went down our angle slowly progressed towards the horizontal and I was quickly aware that we were falling.

Instinctively I raised myself up and was trapped from my waist down. Shug was directly in front of me so I tried to relieve the pressure on him by pushing back as best I could.

I remember moans and shouts for the people behind to stop pushing, I remember people tumbling over the top of us to where ever. I remember the giant railway sleepers that were at the side of the staircase collapsing.

After what seemed an eternity the people behind us were freed and we were able to get back to our feet.

I was numb in my legs which lasted a couple of weeks but had no other ill effect.

Shug went to hospital for observation but was released.

I remember shoes being strewn every where at the top of the staircase and I thought that these would be reclaimed by their owners.

I walked down the terrace and saw people lying on the pitch and I assumed that they were drunk, but in fact most would be dead.

I can remember the eerie misty silence that was broken by the ambulance sirens and I walked through the tunnel and out the front door of Ibrox.

I walked into Glasgow City centre and made my way home to the east end of Glasgow where my mother was frantic with worry.

My oldest brother lost his best friend John Buchanan who sadly died in the crush.

I had been in many crowds before this day and I firmly believe that all that happened was that someone fell at the bottom to middle of the stairs and a domino effect followed.
William Orr, Scotland

Almost all memory of the game escapes me now, apart from the end, but what happened on Stairway 13 will haunt me for the rest of my days.

It was well after the final whistle when my five mates and I made our way towards the Stairway 13 exit.

As was usual at that time there was crushing at the top of the stairs, especially at big games.

As I started down I was lifted off my feet by the press of the crown, again not unusual, but about a quarter of the way down I began slowly falling forward.

The crush began to be unbearable until about half way down the crowd stopped moving but the pressure continued.

I was trapped, being crushed and lying almost horizontally, I managed to somehow free my upper chest and just managed to breath.

" I could not speak, was barely breathing, cold and in shock "

William Mason, Scotland

Around me I could hear shouting and cries but as time went on, (I was trapped for at least 45 minutes), these decreased until it was almost silent.

I just wanted to sleep, (asphyxiation, lack of oxygen), but the man nearest to me slapped my face to try and keep me alert.

I stayed conscious throughout until rescued by the police and was carried and laid out on the pitch. This would be about 6pm on January 2, dark sky (the floodlights were on) and very cold.

I was then carried into the stadium and this was the worst part.

I could not speak, was barely breathing, cold and in shock.

I was left in a dressing room where all around me were stretchers with bodies, no sounds and some already covered up.

That sent me over the edge and I started crying. It was then a nurse spotted the tears and I was quickly removed from the stadium to the Victoria Infirmary along with another badly injured man.

There I was treated for broken ankle and crush injuries.

I didn't go back to Ibrox or any football match for 17 years but have since returned and am now, proudly, an Ibrox season ticket holder.

I was 18 in 1971 and for the past almost 30 years have met people that were at the game but have never met or talked to any of the 145 others who were injured.

This is the first time I have written my account and although the physical injuries healed, I know the mental pain is still there for many survivors and victim's families.
William Mason, Scotland

I was at the game. I stayed until the final whistle whereupon I made my way to the top of the terracing, and left the ground by Stairway 13.

I made my way by public transport to my home in the west end of Glasgow completely unaware of the tragedy that befallen my fellow Rangers supporters.

I have never really been able to reconcile how close I was to being involved and yet remaining without realisation of what had occurred until much later.

The initial version of events of course was exasperating to me. As you rightly point out, this was later discredited.

As a footnote, I may add that only a handful of years ago I took part in an official tour of the Stadium. It saddens me to report that the guide reported the erroneous version of events, blaming the incident on supporters rushing back up stairway 13 after hearing Stein's equalising goal being scored.
Ian Cameron, UK

I recall the day only too well. I was an 11-year-old Celtic fan living a few miles away and waiting with some pals at the newsagent's door.

Normally it was very exiting to wait for the evening edition of the paper to be delivered, to get the headline, but that day, the headline was not about the result.

Soon after wave after wave of rangers' fans recalled how they felt there had been an accident.

Initially the forecast was of eleven dead, the toll mounted as the night wore on.

It was a tragic day and I and thousands of others had been on the steps before, luckily on a different day.

With sectarianism slowly creeping out of football we should remember those fallen and for their sake hope both Celtic and Rangers recover past glories and move on to new highs. It is what they went to see thirty years ago.
Stephen McKenna, UK

I was living in San Diego, California, and read about it in a Glasgow newspaper that was sent to me by my father-in-law.

I read all the dead peoples' names and noticed a man, John Gardener, whom I had played football with in Clydebank.

John was our goalkeeper, and one of the nicest guys you could ever meet.

I had left Clydebank in 1959, and I believe Johnny was a coach of a youth team at the time of his death, in Clydebank.

I am a Celtic fan, and Johnny was a Rangers' fan, I still have very good memories of Johnny - God rest his soul!
Hubert Carey, US

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