Bradford Fire: John Hendrie's memories on the 30th anniversary
By Tim Thornton
Last Updated: 11/05/15 9:15am
With Monday marking the 30th anniversary of the Bradford Fire, former striker John Hendrie shares his harrowing memories of a day that claimed 56 lives.
"It was the worst day of my life."
That is how former Bradford City striker John Hendrie remembers May 11, 1985.
Bradford had just won the old Third Division Championship and were presented with the trophy before the game with Lincoln City.
Hendrie said: "It was supposed to be a day of celebration. A full house to celebrate a fantastic season. We did a lap of honour and held up cards to thank the fans before kick-off.
"But 43 minutes later, an absolute nightmare."
Hendrie is referring to the Bradford Fire, a tragedy that claimed the lives of 56 people.
This year will be the 30th anniversary of the fire and a minute's silence will precede all Premier League and Football League games this weekend to coincide with Bradford's final home game of the season.
But Hendrie can remember the day as though it was yesterday.
"Something was going on in the corner of the main stand and the ref blew his whistle just before half-time. At first, we thought it was crowd trouble.
"We went back in the dressing room and we were there for literally seconds. Then the staff were screaming at us, get out, get out!"
Hendrie and the rest of his team-mates made their way onto the streets outside the ground.
By now, they realised the packed main stand was on fire.
"It was absolute chaos. Thick black smoke and sirens. It was like something out of a film. People running by you all burnt with others trying to help them. Mothers, father, grandparents and children all crying for loved ones."
Fifty-six people died in the fire and many more were injured.
In the aftermath, Hendrie and the rest of the Bradford players did all they could.
"We went to the hospitals but for weeks after, we were like zombies.
"We were distraught seeing all the injured fans, but all they wanted to talk about was how we had to bounce back from the tragedy on the field the following season. It was remarkable.
"The positive was that it pulled everyone together. There was an inner strength. That day we all became blood brothers and sisters."
Hendrie always take time out to show his respects on the anniversary of the fire, and this year will be no different.
"Thirty years on and you don't forget it. In fact, it is something I'll never ever forget."