‘Do not forget significance of Bradford City fire on improved safety at grounds’

Bradford Telegraph and Argus: City players observe a minute’s silence ahead of Friday’s match at Rotherham City players observe a minute’s silence ahead of Friday’s match at Rotherham

The creator of a website dedicated to the Valley Parade fire tragedy today reminded fans of the “sweeping” changes that it brought to the safety of watching football.

Liverpool yesterday marked the 25th anniversary of the Hillsborough disaster with a service to commemorate the 96 fans who died.

Matches across the country kicked off seven minutes late at the weekend to remember the fact that the fateful FA Cup semi-final against Nottingham Forest was halted at 3.06pm.

While the on-going fight for justice from the relatives has ensured what went on at Hillsborough remains in the spotlight, the 1985 tragedy which saw 56 people lose their lives at City does not have the same national focus.

But Julian Gratton, who runs a website about the fire, insists the lessons learned from Valley Parade have played a huge significance in the way the game operates today.

He said: “Upon reading the Popplewell inquiry interim report, it’s easy to understand that the Bradford City fire was a tragedy that has a great deal of historical significance. So we should continue to remember it.

“The tragedy at Valley Parade helped introduce sweeping changes at stadiums across the country that today we take for granted.

“Take the issue of professionally-trained stewards. Stewards at Bradford on the day of the fire were as old as 70 and as young as seven.

“The only fire-fighting equipment at the ground was several fire extinguishers located in the club bars.

“Police did not have individual radios. Essentially a group of officers shared a radio and the way they were devised was for only one officer to communicate at any one time – so if two people tried to talk, then neither could be understood.”

City’s game at Rotherham on Friday was delayed until 7.52pm in line with the fixtures across the four divisions as well as the two FA Cup semi-finals. The teams marked the Hillsborough memorial with a minute’s silence.

Gratton said: “I think all games kicking off seven minutes late was a fitting way for all clubs and fans to be able to show support to the city of Liverpool and the tragedy that befell the 96 supporters and their families.

“It’s also a powerful way to bring attention to the fact that a terrible injustice has happened and the wider footballing community is standing side-by-side with the Liverpool people.”

Gratton set up the website, bradfordcityfire.co.uk, as “the number one” internet source for information and stories about the Valley Parade disaster.

The full Popplewell report is hosted online as well as newspaper articles and personal recollections on how the tragedy unfolded.

With the 30th anniversary next year, Gratton is hoping for more contributions and stories from those who were involved.

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