Remembering 66 Football fans

On this day in 1971 66 Rangers fans lost their lives and 200 where injured. All had turned up to support their football team in a New Years game against Celtic.
Celtic had took a late lead in the game and many Rangers fans started leaving thinking that the game was lost. However Colin Stein scored an equalizer at the very end of the game. This caused some fans to try and get back into the Copeland road end on stairway 13.
Unfortunately a combination of the volume of people leaving and some trying to return caused a situation which unfortunately lead to the death of those 66 football fans.
I am old enough to remember the state of football grounds in those days and the size of the crowds which football attracted in those days. I have clear memories of feeling terrified leaving Firhill after a PTFC V Celtic game, The crowd that day was around 35,000 with only one exit in the area of the ground I was in. I remember being carried by the crush going down the one stair case with my feet not touching the ground. I also remember the same thing leaving to old Celtic end at Hampden which could hold 40 -50,000 people.
The point I am trying to make is that in those day’s it could have happened to any football fans in those days at many grounds.
Despite Ranger previously spending £150,000 (a fortune in those days) on upgrading stairways at that end of the ground previous to the disaster the circumstances that day caused a a crush with people trying to leave and return to the Copeland Rd Terrace.
Willie Waddle at Rangers decided that the stadium had to be torn down and replaced with an all seated smaller stadium. It took a few years for the money to be gathered much of which came from Rangers Pools run by then director Hugh Adams but eventually the new stadium was built in memory of those 66 people who lost their lives.
Like Hillsborough years later this is a time to put all arguments and differences aside and pay respect to those who lost their lives going to a football game.
R.I.P 66

Comments

  1. JasCam
    A brilliant remembrance. Thank you for putting sport into a reality context. We are all guilty of easily forgetting that no action in life is worth a single death. I was at the game and knew nothing about the tragedy till arriving home a couple of hours afterwards. My friends and I always left the area as quickly as possible to avoid any confrontations which were stupidly not uncommon then. Extraordinarily, we were a mixed bunch, Celtic and Rangers supporters all squeezed into my best friend’s car. Our Rangers pals knew nothing of the events either because they had been in a different area of the Rangers’ end. I remember the first reports on the T.V. when we entered my friend’s house and the shock we felt that this had happened in a place we had been taunting and abusing these same supporters from the opposite end of the ground just a few hours beforehand. As you said, Jas, allegiances meant nothing in those moments and as the days passed and I heard from and met colleagues and acquaintances who had either been involved themselves or had family and friends killed or injured, my personal grief increased. It took Scottish football and even the Celtic support quite some time to recover from the trauma. I still get a queeze in my stomach at the memory. There are events in history that surmount any attitude or viewpoint or as you so eloquently put it,
    “Like Hillsborough years later this is a time to put all arguments and differences aside and pay respect to those who lost their lives going to a football game.”
    Anyone who is unable or unwilling to defend your statement is not worthy to be called a football supporter and certainly does not adhere to my understanding of the ethos of Celtic Football Club.
    My prayers today will most certainly include those who died, the injured and their families and friends, in fact the whole Rangers club. No matter the legalities or claims regarding the old club, the right of Rangers supporters to the memories and remembrance of that day is irrefutably theirs and should never be questioned.
    R.I.P.

  2. JasCam
    A brilliant remembrance. Thank you for putting sport into a reality context. We are all guilty of easily forgetting that no action in life is worth a single death. I was at the game and knew nothing about the tragedy till arriving home a couple of hours afterwards. My friends and I always left the area as quickly as possible to avoid any confrontations which were stupidly not uncommon then. Extraordinarily, we were a mixed bunch, Celtic and Rangers supporters all squeezed into my best friend’s car. Our Rangers pals knew nothing of the events either because they had been in a different area of the Rangers’ end. I remember the first reports on the T.V. when we entered my friend’s house and the shock we felt that this had happened in a place we had been taunting and abusing these same supporters from the opposite end of the ground just a few hours beforehand. As you said, Jas, allegiances meant nothing in those moments and as the days passed and I heard from and met colleagues and acquaintances who had either been involved themselves or had family and friends killed or injured, my personal grief increased. It took Scottish football and even the Celtic support quite some time to recover from the trauma. I still get a queeze in my stomach at the memory. There are events in history that surmount any attitude or viewpoint or as you so eloquently put it,
    “Like Hillsborough years later this is a time to put all arguments and differences aside and pay respect to those who lost their lives going to a football game.”
    Anyone who is unable or unwilling to defend your statement is not worthy to be called a football supporter and certainly does not adhere to my understanding of the ethos of Celtic Football Club.
    My prayers today will most certainly include those who died, the injured and their families and friends, in fact the whole Rangers club. No matter the legalities or claims regarding the old club, the right of Rangers supporters to the memories and remembrance of that day is irrefutably theirs and should never be questioned.
    R.I.P.

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