International Break-Part 3
Continuing our theme of Most Memorable Matches,this offering deals sensitively with a dark day in the history of the game.
My choice for this series is memorable,and not for good reasons,but I think it deserves its place here.
It was New Year’s Day,1971.
It was my second ever visit to Ibrox,a dull dreich day. I went there with my father,his brother Tony,and my cousin Peter.
As we were approaching the ground,my father and my uncle Tony-who had a half bottle of Bell’s whisky in his pocket-met another Croy bhoy and went AWOL! Well,that left me and my cousin Peter to make our way into the cauldron of death.
What I remember most vividly is the fighting in the Rangers end-a big gap would suddenly appear in the middle of the terracing and dust would appear where the fighting was. As for the game,well,it was heading for a scoreless draw when Jimmy Johnstone headed home a rebound from a Bobby Lennox shot.
And in the last minute too!
We began to make our way out,hadn’t even got as far as Helen Street when an almighty roar went up. We knew right away that Rangers must have equalised.
As we headed towards the supporters bus-and I’ll always remember this-we walked past a parked-up police motorcycle which had its radio switched on-“Will all available ambulances make their way to Ibrox Stadium?”
We still had no idea that anything drastic had happened when we arrived back in Glenboig. But it seemed that the whole village was down at the bus stop,awaiting our arrival. They told us the awful news,a stairway had collapsed causing multiple casualties. My mother was there too,and I suddenly thought of my father and my uncle Tony! Thankfully they had already phoned home to let my mother know they were safe.
But I’ll always feel for those 66 poor souls who never returned to their families. The stairway collapse could so easily have been at our end,remember. When photographs of the aftermath,the deceased lying on the pitch,were published the following day in The Sunday Mail and The Sunday Post,it was harrowing to think it could have been me and Peter.
God Bless The 66.
The above post is by BIG PACKY. I think he has covered the subject very well indeed. If you would like to submit an article for this series,or on any other topic,please mail MAHE at
Additional reading on this difficult subject can be sourced on
Hi BP. An excellent article to remind us all of how sometimes enjoyment can turn to tragedy, it was only a few weeks back that another tragedy was narrowly avoided outside Celtic park. Big crowds, unexpected events, bad supervision of crowd control can easily lead to another tragic event, we must always be on our guard. I well remember that terrible day, it shocked everyone I knew, if fact in Fife there is a memorial to the victims, some of whom stayed in the same street. They would be sons, uncles, Fathers, all of whom left grieving relatives, I remember big Jock and Cesar all the Celtic players coming together, going to funerals, representing our club, it seemed to me that the two clubs came together in a way that had never happened before. That is the way that it should be, respecting the victims. H.H.
That was an evocative read. I wasn’t at the game but remember the day clearly. My Mam was in a hospital near Ibrox and we visited her in that night. I remember it being dark and can still see images of flashing lights and a dark feeling in the car as my Dad drove there.
I was young to fully appreciate what had happened but I have an image of a darkness that night. It just felt cold and I can still picture the scene and recall sirens and flashing lights of the Emergency Services,
The early seventies weren’t a particularly happy period with the Troubles in the North, Vietnam and memories of power cuts cold winters.
Well done for remembering the 66 souls that day. I’ll say a prayer from them.
I assume the memorial is in Markinch. Five kids from the same school there were among the victims. Such a sad and needless loss.
Hi Big Packy.
Good article my friend, football isn’t always about glory and sadly some awful events have happened at football grounds.
I had just turned 8 at the time, I recall listening to the game on the wireless and my Dad being angry when Rangers equalised. Celtic hadn’t won the new year Derby at Ibrox for quite some considerable time, I believe, of course the real horror was just occurring.
I next remember my Dad saying oh that’s a relief,its not at the Celtic end, many members of his family were at the game, my mum went crazy at him, all 3 of her brothers were at the game,in the Rangers end. He immediately apologised for bring so thoughtless. It was a long wait before it was confirmed that all family members were safe, sadly that wasn’t the case for 66 pour souls.
You must be right, as I remember it was situated east of Glenrothes, a sad reminder of all the people who lost their lives. As I recall there had been another tragedy at Ibrox before that and I believe that some lost their lives in that as well. A wee bit concerning when you read of nets being positioned under the Ibrox roofs now, I just hope that lessons have been learned. Hillsborough and Heysel and Ibrox must never be allowed to happen again..
Hi Big Packy, ,,
First off I know you’re not the type to write articles so on behalf of us all thanks for taking the time to help the site along. Patyerself on the back.
As for your article, , good Lord I had no idea you where there, what a terrible day indeed. I believe they pinned it on a dead man too, takes a special type of scum to do that. As you know AweNaw is convinced the current safety cert is dodgy,, talk about a leopard and its spots.
In those premobile days I’m sure many many people stood around worried.
God bless the souls of those lost. Tragic. Just wanted to see a game.
Thanks for the read Big Packy, ,, hi to Joan and Hail Hail
I believe that the other tragic event happenedin September of 1961 at a Rangers vs Celtic game. Lives were lost there too. I attended that game but was not involved in the tradegy.
My memory may be rusty but many of the terraces had worn steps and the grading was haphazard in that period.
A good read! Glad you and yours were safe.
Good stuff BP
That game was the last time I watched a game of football there, I traveled down to the game on the Aberdeen Celtic Supporters bus, the journey in them days was a long one and on the way home the bus always stopped in Forfar for a couple of hours for a drinking session, we didn’t get back till yon time and my parents were beside themselfs, nobody on the bus had a clue till we got to Forfar and we found out what had happened, I didn’t think to call my folks as we knew it wasn’t at our end, so just assumed they knew I was Ok, little did I know they didn’t have a clue what end it was as the news wasn’t very forthcoming with the events.
The cover up afterwards was criminal, the cabal sure closed ranks around it, yet they harp on about dignity, dignity my arse.
Well done. Glad you could share that buddy.
I was particularly interested in the good sense of your dad calling ahead to advise he was ok.
He saved his loved ones a load of worry. A lesson to us all.
I was 7 in 1971 and not at the game. My dad had taken us to a family get together in Paisley.
The first we knew there was a problem was when the mother of one of his pals phoned in a panic telling him that her son, my dad’s buddy, who was at the game hadn’t returned.
My dad knowing his buddy and the likelihood that he fine at a N’erday party, so he managed to reassure her.
She phoned back an hour later .. still no news, would my dad mind heading to Ibrox and checking.
My dad, god rest him, was only 30 years old then and what he saw that night stayed with him for the rest of his life. I remember to this day the look on his face. He had turned grey and i was really worried about him. You sense stuff at that age, even if most of the chat was kept from us at the time.
Thankfully his buddy was not amongst the dead laid out that night. However, he had still not returned home by the next morning and once again he drove back to check.
The really good news was that his buddy was not amongst the dead. For small merices we can be eternally thankful, as too many mothers lost their precious boys that awful day.
My dad never spoke about it much, other than to say when he was driving back, he saw the unmistakeable gait of his buddy tottering down the High Street toward his mums. Completely oblivious as to the panic he had, albeit unintentionally, created.
I never once heard my dad swear. I’ll bet he did that day!
It was years later it occured that dad had never mentioned who his buddy was. I had no idea If he was a Celt or a Ger.
Just didn’t matter, everyone was touched and helped if they could, every community was united in grief.
We must keep viligant on crowd safety!
Young wans and old wans …remember to always let your mammy know you are ok!
Thanks for that BP, a difficult subject but like rebus says a reminder to be on our guard. My sister and I were caught in the crush at Celtic park in September and to my mind a tragedy was narrowly avoided. It is very concerning that the first reaction of the police was to lie about the incident as regards how long the crush lasted for. Has nothing been learned from Hillsborough? When a mistake has been made there must be honesty and transparency, not lies and the fail safe of blaming supporters. Those who tragically lost their lives at Ibrox, hillsborough and other stadiums deserve better.
hi bhoys just got in, thanks for your kind comments about the post, but great credit must go to majoc, for hs editing skills .??
good article BP, well done. Although obviously a sad one.
Great post. Thanks for posting.
And not content with the catalogue of lies we were presented with,ten weeks later we still have had nothing from the various enquiries set up-allegedly-afterwards.
I’m fed up with people in positions of authority paying lip-service to their responsibilities,and when it goes wrong,shunting things up a siding in the hope we will forget all about it.
Happens all the time,in all walks of life.
An excellent contribution. Cap doffed!
hi mike, wish I had your vocabulary skills but at least ill try, hope seamus is okay and because its not cqn, frankie and benny and Jorge and Donny say woof woof ?
Hope the pooch is recovering ok?
A particular point mentioned by BIGPACKY and a few others since resonated with me-that the people back home were worried sick,while those on their way back from the match were none the wiser.
This happened to my Dad and his pals. They usually left from The Segton Inn,Kilwinning. And usually returned there too. When they walked in to the pub that night,the publican-Captain Bell-refused to serve them until they had first gone home to report in. None of them could face coming back out later.
We live in an era of instant global communications,yet fifty years ago few people had as much as a radio in their car,much less a phone in their house.
She will get there, eating well, problem now is she has milk and nothing to drink it, mastitis will be the next problem, fingers crossed it doesn’t flare up, but I’m sure we will cope. it’s what we do 😉
Jeez I really don’t like it when we are no playing 🙁
These breaks are not doing anyone any good. Switching folk off the fitba.
Jimmynotpaul-everything good mate?
Still love going to fitba wi crabit chops?
Hope things good with you mate ?
Good to hear mate?
I think it was on here that I said about international football and how we in the west see it as a pain whilst those in the ” third world ” see it as their identity, it’s something they can touch, something they can relate to, when I think back I realise how wrong I am to think the way I do, but it’s the life I live and it’s the way I think, I make no apologies for being what-who I am, I am what I am and I can’t change it, I only wish those in the ” third world ” could have the same opportunities that we have, sadly it’s no gonna happen.
She is coming on well, amazing how they adapt with a bit of TLC food and warmth.
You do yourselves down mate,there’s more to it than that?
No really, the TLC is a massive thing, we give that and they respond, she has a bit of the fear of males, as most of the rescue dogs we have taken in, but with time I can turn them around, but it takes time, I haven’t failed as yet and hopefully I never do, it keeps me going.
Mon the BMCWUP
its becoming cqn.
Welcome aboard,old bean-and don’t be a stranger! We even allow posters to contribute an entire article for the day. In fact,we are quite keen for people to do so,so here’s your chance for your day in lights!!!
New article published!!!