Darkest day for Bolton Wanderers remembered
7:56am Saturday 9th March 2013 in News
FLAGS will fly at half mast today at the Reebok Stadium to remember the 33 people who died in the Burnden Park disaster.
It is 67 years since the football fans, who had gone to enjoy the Bolton Wanderers v Stoke City FA Cup tie, lost their lives in the crush.
An estimated 85,000 people crammed into Burnden Park for the game, at least 15,000 over capacity.
A book of remembrance will be open at the front of the Reebok at today’s home match against Brighton, in which the names of those who died are listed.
Appearing in today’s match programme, the club’s chaplain Phil Mason paid tribute.
He said: “It is right that, as we are playing at home today, we fly the flags at half-mast in memory of our 33 fans who died on that awful day.
“As always at our annual service of remembrance and thanksgiving at the end of the season we shall pause to remember those that died in this tragedy and light candles in their memory.”
More than 500 people were injured in the crush, which happened on March 9, 1946.
Overcrowding at the Embankment end caused the barriers to collapse and people fell on top of each other and on to the pitch, suffocating many fans at the Trotters’ former home.
The dead and injured were laid out on the pitch as players were ushered back to their dressing room, but the scale of the disaster was not realised at the time and officials, fearing trouble if the game was abandoned, resumed the match. It ended 0-0.
The 5pm edition of the Bolton Evening News headline read: “Amazing Cup-tie Scenes at Burnden Park”, with only a slight indication of the tragedy unfolding in the stands.
Many only found out the true horror when the final edition appeared later that night.
It reported that survivors spoke about the crush conditions and the barrier crashing down, while fans escaped the disaster by going on to the pitch.
And many people, mainly women, stood on their front door steps looking anxiously for loved ones to return home from the game.
The disaster led to changes in legislation, which limited the number of fans allowed inside each football ground.
The site is now occupied by Asda and community life champion Chloe Mitchell, from the supermarket, said staff planned to hold a period of silence in the store today to commemorate the anniversary.