Peter Jackson autobiography: Reliving the aftermath of Bradford Fire (From Bradford Telegraph and Argus)
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Peter Jackson autobiography: Reliving the aftermath of Bradford Fire
The Valley Parade fire disaster forced City’s young team to grow up overnight, according to Peter Jackson.
He recalled the sheer horror of the 1985 disaster in his new book – and how he still bumps into survivors to this day.
“As the captain I had to co-ordinate the aftermath: players attending functions, hospital visits and funerals of course. It was humbling, it still is.
“Twenty five years afterwards, I was in M&S in Halifax when this lady came up to me and said: ‘I’ve always wanted to thank you for what you did for me on the day of the fire.’ I must admit I filled up.”
During his time as an apprentice, one of Jackson’s jobs was to clear all the litter in the main stand after games. It was where the fatal blaze started.
“There were holes in the floor under the rows of seats and on the stairways. We’d just brush everything down those holes.
“For years, generations of apprentices had done exactly the same thing so you can imagine how much rubbish had piled up down there under that old wooden stand. All it needed was a stray cigarette down one of those holes and whoosh.”
On the way home from that game, Jackson decided to drive past Bradford Royal Infirmary and stopped to visit the accident and emergency unit. He was struck by the “horrendous” smell of burnt flesh.
“I felt the least I could do was try to console some of the victims as best I could. It was just so moving because there were people lying there with major burns who only wanted to talk to me about Bradford City.
“They said how great it would be to play against teams like Leeds, Huddersfield, Sheffield United and Sunderland next season and how they wouldn’t miss those games for anything.
“This was from people with 60 or 70 per cent burns.
“I spent the night on the sofa, still wearing my kit, dumbfounded.
“Every television channel was showing footage of the fire over and over again and I just sat and watched transfixed and numb.”
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