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Hundreds to mark Bradford City fire

Published 11/05/2015

Football League boss Shaun Harvey is one of those reading out the names of the victims at the service
Football League boss Shaun Harvey is one of those reading out the names of the victims at the service

Hundreds of people are expected to gather today to mark the 30th anniversary of the deaths of 56 footballs fans in the Bradford City fire.

Current and former players will be joined by fans and civic dignitaries in Bradford's Centenary Square for a minute's silence and a service to remember the horrific events of May 11, 1985.

Fire engulfed the wooden main stand at Bradford City's Valley Parade ground shortly before half-time as the home team played Lincoln City. Fifty-four City supporters lost their lives along with two Lincoln fans.

More than 200 people were taken to hospital.

As part of the commemoration, the bells of the City Hall clock will toll once for each person who lost their life in the tragedy. The names of each one of the 56 supporters will also be read out.

Reading out the names will be Bantams manager Phil Parkinson, City skipper Stephen Darby, TV commentator John Helm, who described the unfolding tragedy 30 years ago, and Shaun Harvey, the chief executive of The Football League and former City chief executive.

There will be a minute's silence which will be followed by You'll Never Walk Alone played by The City of Bradford Brass Band and sung by Opera North soprano, Victoria Sharp.

The Lord Mayor of Bradford will lay a wreath on behalf of the city and district. Others will be laid by t he Mayor of Lincoln, club representatives from Bradford City, family members of the supporters lost in the tragedy, officers from the West Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service, plus the Oberburgermeister of Hamm - the German city twinned with Bradford.

Once these wreaths have been laid, other supporters gathered by the memorial sculpture will be invited to put down their own floral tribute should they wish to do so.

Afterwards, The City of Bradford Brass Band will accompany the singing of Abide with Me.

Later in the day there will also be a brief memorial at the Coral Windows Stadium and the JCT600 Main Stand will be open to allow supporters some time to pause and reflect within the stadium.

The 1985 inquiry into the tragedy headed by Sir Oliver Popplewell concluded that it was an accident, probably started by a spectator dropping a cigarette into rubbish that had accumulated under an old timber stand.

But the build-up to today's anniversary has been overshadowed by a new book by Martin Fletcher, whose father, brother, uncle and grandfather died in the fire, which claims that the fire was was one of nine that occurred at businesses owned or linked to the club's then chairman Stafford Heginbotham.

Sir Oliver said he stands by his ruling, saying there was no evidence of arson.

The new claims are contained in the book Fifty-Six - The Story Of The Bradford Fire. Mr Fletcher, who was 12 at the time, escaped from the blaze but h is 11-year-old brother was the fire's youngest victim while his father John, 34, uncle Peter, 32, and grandfather Eddie, 63, also died.

The book does not make any direct allegations but Mr Fletcher says Mr Heginbotham's history with fires warranted further investigation.

Mr Heginbotham died in 1995. Mr Heginbotham's son James, 47, has dismissed the claims as ''just absolutely ridiculous''.

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