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In tribute to those that perished in the Ibrox disaster 1971


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Ibrox disaster still has power to unite Celtic and Rangers fans, 43 years on

Friday 3 Jan 2014 8:51 am

21

Ibrox disaster still unites Celtic and Rangers fansFloral tributes laid at a service to commemorate the anniversary of the Ibrox disaster (Picture: Getty)

 

Yesterday, 43 years ago to the day, 66 Rangers fans attended a Glasgow derby and never returned home to their families.

 

Fresh from the celebrations of Christmas and Hogmanay of 1970, 80,000 supporters packed into Ibrox for the traditional new year grudge match between the city’s two juggernauts.

 

With Celtic grabbing a 1-0 lead late in the game, home fans began to head for the exits as Colin Stein equalised in injury time.

 

What happened next rendered the power and passion of football rivalry utterly insignificant.

 

Of those who happened to be making their way down Stairway 13 at that fateful moment, 66 were crushed to death.

 

The disaster today remains the worst footballing tragedy in Scottish history.

 

Both sides have shown that when the spectre of mortality casts a shadow over Glasgow’s football divide, bridges of human kindness are willingly built

 

In the gloom of the aftermath, both Rangers and Celtic coaching staff assisted in giving first aid to the injured, even respectfully carrying the dead away from the ill-fated walkway.

 

Three weeks later, a benefit match was held at Hampden for victims of the disaster, with a Scotland XI playing against a Rangers and Celtic combined XI.

 

Although it may currently be on an extended hiatus, the Celtic vs Rangers rivalry may be the fiercest and most notorious in football.

 

However, throughout history, both sides have shown that when the spectre of mortality casts a shadow over Glasgow’s football divide, bridges of human kindness are willingly built.

 

At times, an unhealthy blood-lust can boil over from both sides, but ultimately when life is threatened or lost, common decency prevails.

 

Jock Stein, the legendary Celtic manager who was in the dugout on that fateful January day in 1971, perhaps summed it up best when he said: ’This terrible tragedy must help to curb the bigotry and bitterness of Old Firm matches.

 

‘When human life is at stake this kind of hatred seems sordid and little. Fans of both sides will never forget this disaster.’

 

Unfortunately, his words have never become a mantra for either set of fans, as pockets of sectarianism and hatred will continue to exist when Celtic and Rangers meet.

 

However, every true Celtic fan will have spared a thought for 66 human beings – some as young as nine years old – who left their families 43 years ago, never to return home.

 

I too was at the match but tended to stand on the other side of the terracing at the Rangers end, so knew nothing of what happened until later that evening.

 

One of my abiding memories are the number of photographs of Jock Stein tending the dead and dying on the pitch; when fans of either side sing their hateful songs they should be reminded of his words.

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Ibrox disaster still has power to unite Celtic and Rangers fans, 43 years on

Friday 3 Jan 2014 8:51 am

21

Ibrox disaster still unites Celtic and Rangers fansFloral tributes laid at a service to commemorate the anniversary of the Ibrox disaster (Picture: Getty)

 

Yesterday, 43 years ago to the day, 66 Rangers fans attended a Glasgow derby and never returned home to their families.

 

Fresh from the celebrations of Christmas and Hogmanay of 1970, 80,000 supporters packed into Ibrox for the traditional new year grudge match between the city’s two juggernauts.

 

With Celtic grabbing a 1-0 lead late in the game, home fans began to head for the exits as Colin Stein equalised in injury time.

 

What happened next rendered the power and passion of football rivalry utterly insignificant.

 

Of those who happened to be making their way down Stairway 13 at that fateful moment, 66 were crushed to death.

 

The disaster today remains the worst footballing tragedy in Scottish history.

 

Both sides have shown that when the spectre of mortality casts a shadow over Glasgow’s football divide, bridges of human kindness are willingly built

 

In the gloom of the aftermath, both Rangers and Celtic coaching staff assisted in giving first aid to the injured, even respectfully carrying the dead away from the ill-fated walkway.

 

Three weeks later, a benefit match was held at Hampden for victims of the disaster, with a Scotland XI playing against a Rangers and Celtic combined XI.

 

Although it may currently be on an extended hiatus, the Celtic vs Rangers rivalry may be the fiercest and most notorious in football.

 

However, throughout history, both sides have shown that when the spectre of mortality casts a shadow over Glasgow’s football divide, bridges of human kindness are willingly built.

 

At times, an unhealthy blood-lust can boil over from both sides, but ultimately when life is threatened or lost, common decency prevails.

 

Jock Stein, the legendary Celtic manager who was in the dugout on that fateful January day in 1971, perhaps summed it up best when he said: ’This terrible tragedy must help to curb the bigotry and bitterness of Old Firm matches.

 

‘When human life is at stake this kind of hatred seems sordid and little. Fans of both sides will never forget this disaster.’

 

Unfortunately, his words have never become a mantra for either set of fans, as pockets of sectarianism and hatred will continue to exist when Celtic and Rangers meet.

 

However, every true Celtic fan will have spared a thought for 66 human beings – some as young as nine years old – who left their families 43 years ago, never to return home.

 

I too was at the match but tended to stand on the other side of the terracing at the Rangers end, so knew nothing of what happened until later that evening.

 

One of my abiding memories are the number of photographs of Jock Stein tending the dead and dying on the pitch; when fans of either side sing their hateful songs they should be reminded of his words.

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