Although the subject matter might not appeal to many at first, this is a very well researched and sincerely written account of a dreadful disaster; one that maybe could have been avoided. To those of us south of the border this may not be a story that too many people are aware of but it is a story that deserves to be told. Evidently written with a great deal of care and with a passion to reveal the truth of what happened, I hope this fine book will ultimately be seen as a fitting tribute to those who sadly passed away on this tragic day. It includes several eyewitness accounts that will send a shudder down the spine of anyone who has been trapped amongst a crowd whilst leaving a football ground. Having said all this I found elements within the book to be quite uplifting - as the spirit of humanity is what this excellent book leaves us with.
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This is an excellent, well written book which is a must for any Scottish - indeed, British - football fan. Grippingly readable and packed with detail, it tells the storey of one of the darkest days in UK sporting history through the eyes of those who were there. Collier and Taylor have done a remarkable job tracking down those involved on that awful day and their testimony presents an broad, atmospheric and historically invaluable picture of the collapsing of the barrier and its aftermath. Plenty of urban myths about the Ibrox disaster have grown up over the past 35 years: this excellent book dispels them all, returning to a truth which is every bit as sobering and educative as any of the legends which have emerged since the accident happened.
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Nearly forty years have passed since the tragic events of January 2, 1971 but as the late great George Best notes in the introduction to this excellent book, the memories remain prominent in the minds of those old enough to remember the day. If you have ever got caught up in a crush at a sporting event or concert then you'll know just how easily things can go wrong, how the pressure of the crowd can become as one contributor to this book notes, `like a giant vice'. Fortunately on most occasions the pressure relents and tragedy is averted but on that day in Govan the consequences of such a crush were hideous.
Working on what was obviously a slim budget, Collier and Taylor still detail in a respectful way how the disaster was an accident waiting to happen, how previous serious incidents had occurred on the Stairway 13. The authors then go on to thoroughly debunk some of the myths that surround the disaster. They also do a fine job in detailing the aftermath of the 1971 tragedy and how it eventually paved the way for an impressive state-of-the-art ground. But the real strength of this book lies in the forensic way both authors have managed to track down so many people - players, fans, medical staff and emergency service personnel - who were there on that fateful day. The picture they paint is graphic, at times horrifying but always compelling reading. The haunting images may be painful to read but it's essential that people do read this book to ensure that such a tragedy never happens again.
Reading this book makes one realise just how things have changed in society over the past forty years, and not just in terms of crowd safety. Taylor and Collier relate how in the era before mobile phones, the news of the tragedy took some time to radiate out from the locus. Also they recall how back in the early seventies, those affected by such a tragedy had to get on with life without counselling. The book also contains recollections from a number of well-known Scots journalists who were there on the day. The long piece from John Burrowes is a fine reminder of just what an excellent writer he was. The book also notes how the tragedy led to a temporary cessation of the vile hatred that exists between Old Firm fans, how Celtic staff helped at the time of the disaster and subsequently helped raise cash for the victims.
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This is a very worthwhile book and long overdue, in my opinion.
The build-up to the disaster, the unfolding tragedy itself and the aftermath are very well told in a combination of survivors' accounts, players' memories, and journalists' pieces In particular, the accounts by John Burrowes, Roddy Forsyth and Roger Baillie are superbly written and so moving.
Willie Waddell is rightly given the credit he deserves - the pressure the Rangers manager found himself under was enormous, and this is borne out by the likes of Sandy Jardine, John Greig and John Burrowes, as Waddell found himself having to deal with so much as the Rangers chairmen, by all accounts, found themselves unable to cope.
There are very few photographs in the book. Indeed, most of the images of the disaster in existence anywhere are similar - that of the bodies being laid on the pitch, and the cleared stairway hours afterwards. But for me the most graphic image is surely the one of the cover of this book - that of the morning after the disaster, as officials examine the crushed step rails of Stairway 13. This image never ceases to amaze me - for those step rails to collapse like that, the press of bodies must have been massive. It's a horrendous thought.
The one issue I have with the book, though, is its rather over-zealous belief that this is the first time the truth has been revealed about the cause of the disaster. The authors openly give themselves the credit of being the ones to reveal that the accident was not, as had been believed for so long, due to fans attempting to re-enter the stadium on hearing the roar that greeted Colin Stein's equaliser. Indeed, it is said on the back of the book that "now the truth about the disaster... is finally on the record". This is simply nonsense. The myth of the last-minute goal inadvertently causing the disaster was fully exposed in a BBC documentary aired nationwide to mark the 30th anniversary (2001). That pre-dates the publication of this book by six years. So the truth was firmly in the public domain already.
Another gripe - despite this book's short length, there is still too much "padding" - do we really need to know Rangers' full playing record, and a summary of each player's career, from season 1970-71?
Having said which, I repeat that this is a booking well worth reading - it is a harrowing account of a horrendous disaster that was thankfully spared the glare of the television cameras.
factual, harrowing, compassionate, every rangers fan should have! takes you back to a different time a time when tragedy was dealt with in an all together different manner.you will be moved to tears, vaguely remembered incidents brought back the markinch boys. the often spouted based on fiction cause hopefully put to bed forever ! in our hearts forever.