We Shall Not Forget

Last updated : 02 January 2003 By Grandmaster Suck
I was 13 at the time of the Ne'erday game, and in those teenage years I never missed an Old Firm match. Between Johnstone's goal for Celtic and Stein's equaliser for Rangers myself and a couple of mates had headed up to the top of the stairway. 13 was the number of the stair going down the terraces toward the pitch, not the number of the stairway going out of the ground. There were only two stairs down from the top of the Rangers End.

As soon as the final whistle went we headed down the stairs. The usual crush, sometimes I even lifted my feet off the ground and "floated" down, but that was nothing unknown at Hampden or Ibrox. A few faces looking up from the bottom, but then there were always folks waiting for mates to come down: "meet ye at the bottom of the stair at full time".

I think we joined the subway queue at Copland Road although if we had been later we would have run to Shields Rd or Cessnock. It was only when we got out at Merkland St that we heard in the chippy there had been injuries. Nothing to concern us, but.

When I got to my Auntie's flat (my Uncle was a Jambo and had started taking me to the fitba') there was news of deaths, so we got all kinds of questions, which we brushed off. Neighbours coming in, the whole business. Having paused to scoff a sandwich I headed back over the railway bridge to home.

By then more news had come in and of course the folks were very worried. My da prohibited me from going to Old Firm games afterwards, which was a bit of a problem when it came to the Scottish Cup Final, which I got hammered for... never mind the replay!

In fact the biggest fright I got with crowds was at my first Scotland-England match at Hampden, when arriving early, I was daft enough to stand behind a barrier. At some point in the game a Scots cross dribbled along the English line at the Rangers End, and as 120,000 people leaned forward I nearly got the life squeezed out of me.

I will always blame the fences at the sides of the Ibrox stair for the Disaster. They were high, pink-painted wooden stakes or pickets. They must have been about seven or eight feet tall, pointed at the top and driven deep into the ground or set in concrete. To this day I still don't understand how anyone got over them: they were designed to keep people in and withstand any force against them.

If I remember rightly, although the railings down the stairs were crushed and buckled after the Disaster, the fences still stood. I seem to remember they had been installed a few years before to stop people running down the grass, but I could be wrong there.

Every time a newspaper refers to the Disaster having been caused by Rangers fans rushing back up the stairs after Colin Stein's equaliser, they still get furious letters from me. The Herald did it again only recently.

The public reaction was of quiet shock, nothing like the more recent disasters at Bradford, Heysel and Sheffield. Willie Waddell was our manager and took on the task of facing up to the Disaster with the courage and dignity of a great Ranger. Collections were organised, funerals attended and families helped.

As a direct result of the Disaster, Waddell had a vision of a modern Stadium which he worked to put into practice. For that reason Ibrox is the most modern ground in Scotland and was so many years before the Taylor Report.

Most of us were touched directly or indirectly by the Disaster. We shall not forget.

The Informer