Glasgow & West Scotland

Ibrox disaster memorial plans announced by Rangers FC

Ibrox Stadium
Image caption Football fans were crushed on stairway 13 on 2 January 1971

Plans to mark the 40th anniversary of the Ibrox disaster in which 66 people died have been unveiled by Rangers Football Club.

Fans and former players will remember the tragedy when Rangers play Celtic at Glasgow's Ibrox stadium on Sunday.

It will be 40 years to the day since the game on 2 January 1971 when fans were crushed on stairway 13.

Teams will be led out by John Greig, Rangers captain in the 1971 derby, and former Celtic captain Billy McNeill.

A minute's silence will be held before kick-off and both teams will wear black arm bands while Rangers will wear a commemorative shirt with a special badge.

On 3 January a memorial service will be held at the stadium which will be attended by relatives of the 66 victims and supporters.

'Etched' memories

John Greig, whose statue stands outside Ibrox as a permanent memorial to the disaster, said: "Leading the team out of the tunnel will be a very proud moment for me and a very humbling moment.

"Anything that I can do to pay my respects, I'm only too happy to do so."

Mr Greig, 68, was there as bodies were laid at the side of the pitch. He said: "It's something that will never leave me, it's etched on my mind."

Former Rangers defender Sandy Jardine said it was very important for the families and fans to remember what happened that day.

He said: "At this time of year, particularly on 2 January, your thoughts are always with the families who unfortunately lost their loved ones.

"I'm quite sure it lives with every player who played that day. I remember every single detail.

"I remember walking to the edge of the tunnel and seeing all the bodies behind the goal and the huge amounts of ambulances.

"It was a very, very sad day and something that will stay with me for the rest of my life."

Rangers manager Walter Smith, who was there as a spectator in 1971, said: "Men, women and children lost their lives that day and they will never be forgotten by this club or our fans.

"They will also never be forgotten by the people of Glasgow who came together in the days and weeks following the disaster.

"It didn't matter what football team you supported, or even if you were a football fan, the city united in grief."

'Like yesterday'

Despite the passing of four decades, the memories are still fresh for relatives of those who died.

Mother-of-three Josie McLeay, 67, of Stenhousemuir, near Larbert, lost her husband Richard and his younger brother John.

"I still see him as a young boy," she said, "My memories are there. They are clear. It seems like yesterday."

Speaking about the memorial service to be held at Ibrox, Mrs McLeay said: "I'm terrified of going here because I hate crowds and I hate New Year after what happened, but it's nice that they are remembered."

The only woman among the dead was 18-year-old Margaret Ferguson. Her sister Mary Gibb, 65, will lay a wreath during the memorial service.

Mrs Gibb, of Maddiston, near Falkirk, said: "That night, when it first happened, we were watching television. We realised it had happened and I just said: 'I hope our Margaret's not there."'

Mrs Gibb said her sister had been told by her father not to go to game, but the family later discovered Margaret had been carried from the stairway and died in the dressing rooms.

She said of Margaret: "She loved going dancing. She loved going to Rangers. Her bedroom, from top to bottom, was covered in Rangers stuff."

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