Nearly 80,000 people squeezed into Ibrox... to
watch the 31st Scotland v England international, the first between
wholly professional teams.
The ground was state-of-the-art, built at the substantial
cost of £20,000. Both Rangers and Celtic wanted to host the match which
went to Ibrox by just a single vote.
By the time the sides trooped off after a 1-1 draw, 26 people lay
dead and 547 were injured. Grotesquely, the applause of the crowd was
punctuated by groans from the injured and dying. Some casualties hung,
seriously injured and upside down, from the latticework of torn girders
and woodwork, before they could be lowered to the ground.
The authorities thought more havoc and injury might have been
wrought if the match had been abandoned.
The majority apparently left
ignorant of any incident, although the match was interrupted for almost
Eighteen were reported dead 24 hours later, but it was three weeks
before the final victim died.
Wooden joists snapped clean through in what would become Broomloan
stand. They'd been laid on a steel frame-work, supporting wooden
decking, but a hole some 20 yards square opened up. Hundreds of
spectators plunged up to 40 feet to the ground. Rescuers found: "a scene
of indescribable horror and confusion . . . a mass of mangled and
bleeding humanity, the victims piled one above the other . . . enough to
unman the strongest." The resources of the city's hospitals were
over-stretched. Doctors in the crowd leant immediate help, but at Govan
police station, cells were called into service as a casualty clearing
The scale of disfiguring injuries can best be judged from a Herald
report of how the father of one unfortunate went to the Western
Infirmary on Saturday night in the hope of finding his 25-year-old son,
William Robertson. He was not among the injured, so the father was shown
to the mortuary where he identified a body as being that of William. He
was arranging the funeral when his son arrived home at
The accident, on Saturday April 5 1902, was reported in these
columns on the Monday. The previous day there had been hardly any debris
at the scene, according to Glasgow Herald reporters. Virtually all the
timber and sheets of corrugated iron had been used as makeshift
More than two weeks after the incident, we put the injured at 547.
The match was declared void and was replayed in Birmingham. All
proceeds went to the disaster fund.
The contractor was later prosecuted, but was acquitted. However
the accident ended the practice of supporting wooden terracing on steel
frames. Earth embankments or concrete terracings were introduced. -