The Bradford City stadium fire is one of the darkest and most unforgettable events in English football history. Saturday 11 May 1985 was supposed to be a day of celebration and elation for all involved and associated with Bradford City football club. They had already won the Third Division League trophy, and their match against Lincoln City was a mere formality. No one could have predicted that the day would turn into one of utter devastation and despair.
No one could have predicted that an entire stand of Valley Parade would be engulfed by an unstoppable fire in just four minutes. It took everyone by surprise. The tremendous speed at which the fire spread through the wooden roof and into the passageways and escapes meant that many fans in the stand had to clamber onto the pitch to avoid the danger. Some were not so lucky, however. The fire took 56 lives, injured over 250 people, and left indelible marks on an immeasurable number of fans on that day and beyond. One of the fans who was present on that day is 81-year-old Alec, who went with his son to support their title-winning Bradford City side. Understandably, after escaping the fire with his son and seeing the destruction that ensued, Alec found it difficult to return to support Bradford City in the physical sense. Though he listened on the radio from then on, neither the temporary home ground of Elland Road or the rebuilt Valley Parade in 1986 could bring him back to the terraces, let alone shake the memories of the fire.
Alec then fell out with his son, Mark. Though both he and his son admitted that they missed watching their beloved Bradford City together in the stands, the pain of that fateful day and a strained father-son relationship was too much for Alec. That was until, very recently, he reconciled with Mark, and went to Valley Parade for the Bantams’ first match of the season this year. Mark joined him soon after. This is his incredible story.