Twenty-six years after the Bradford City Fire Disaster, and its anniversary is as poignant as ever.

Yesterday 600 people gathered in Centenary Square to remember the 56 lives lost at Valley Parade that fateful day. Among them was 72-year-old Mary Roberts, of Tyersal, whose daughter Mandy, only 20, was one of the victims.

Mrs Roberts and her daughter had been at the match as Bradford City played Lincoln City with her five-year-old grandson and another relative when panic broke out.

They got separated heading towards the pitch and a policeman sent her and Mandy towards the turnstiles at the back saying they would be open – but they were not. A man picked up Mrs Roberts and threw her over the turnstile – but Mandy perished.

Mrs Roberts’ other daughter Christine Clough, who was comforting her during the memorial, said: “Mum will never get over it. She still has the nightmares and smells the smoke. It is as vivid in her mind as if it just happened.”

Among the relatives and friends of the bereaved were many City fans.

Cathy Stirk, of Steeton, was ten when the disaster happened. The first match she attended at Valley Parade was for the ground’s re-opening when City played an England international side.

She said: “I’ve been a City fan since I was 11 and as part of the Bradford City family just felt I should come and pay my respects.”

As the bells of Bradford’s City Hall rang out, friends and relatives of loved ones lost, City fans, players, managers, politicians, dignitaries and representatives of the police and fire service all stood together united in emotional remembrance.

The Very Reverend David Ison, chaplain to the Lord Mayor of Bradford, told the crowd that although the eyes of the world were on last year’s memorial service for the 25th anniversary, today’s service was still as important as ever for the people of Bradford.

“We have all been diminished by our loss on that fateful day,” he said.

  • Read the full story in Thursday's T&A