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They Came To Watch A Football Match

At 11.00am today, 11 May 2013, Bradford city centre will fall silent. Hundreds of Bradford City supporters, along with staff, players, civic leaders, everyday folk and friends from Lincoln will bow their heads in Centenary Square. They will listen as the bells of City Hall chime “You’ll Never Walk Alone”.

Today marks the 28th anniversary of the Bradford City fire disaster.

54 jubilant and expectant supporters, many of them covering generations of families, came to cheer their team parade the Third Division champions’ trophy; two others were simply there to see their side complete another season. None were to return home.

For the families of those who died at Valley Parade that Saturday afternoon the pain is still strong. It is equally strong for those who suffered horrific burns trying to escape the inferno, for those who were stood elsewhere and simply witnessed it and for staff who were looking forward to celebrating the climax of a success campaign.

Many have struggled to come to terms with the events of that dreadful day and for years could not return to the ground. Others have found different ways to deal with the demons and to create something positive from such a black and painful event.

FSOA member Adam Bentley, the Deputy Safety Officer at Bradford City, cycled to Paris to raise funds for the Burns Research Unit at Bradford University as his 25th anniversary mark of respect.

For Paul Firth, a circuit judge, his way of coming to terms with what happened was to write about it. His book ‘Four Minutes To Hell’ is a must for anyone involved, or embarking on a career, in crowd management. If you have not read it please try and track down a copy.

I have stood in Centenary Square on the 11 May and felt the emotion. I have also read the 56 names on the memorial at Valley Parade time and again. Both provide a very poignant reminder, if ever we need one, of what we do and why we do it.

Chris Patzelt, General Secretary

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