Remembering the 56

Credit Graham Burrell

It’s been a fortnight since club representatives from Lincoln and Portsmouth, and Bill Stacey’s family laid a wreath at the Stacey West End of the ground, named after the two Lincoln City supporters who lost their lives on May 11th, 1985.

I can remember the day unfolding on television, but I wasn’t a Lincoln City fan at that point; I was a mere seven-year-old, not having attended my first game. I recall the events though, and so when the wreath was laid against Portsmouth, like everyone in the ground, I contemplated the lost lives, those souls who attended a game of football and never came home, 54 from Bradford City and two from Lincoln City. It is something that never fails to bring a lump to my throat, a kind of ‘close to home’ sensation that is hard to comprehend.

Credit Graham Burrell

The name ‘Stacey West’ is now ingrained into Lincoln City as much as that of players, managers and the ground itself. As almost everyone knows, Bill Stacey and Jim West were the two Imps supporters who lost their lives that day, and it’s a fitting tribute that they will forever be remembered at our ground and, of course, as part of the Imps history and heritage. Stacey West is ubiquitous at Lincoln City, but we must never forget what it means, ever. Two families were devastated by the loss. Two clubs, brought together by collective grief.

56 people lost their lives. 265 suffered serious injuries. On a day when our friends from Bradford City were set to lift the title, they suffered the most horrific of tragedies that have defined and characterised our relationship since. We share a bond with the Bantams, one of grief and strength in equal measure. Both clubs came back from that awful afternoon, and supporters who survived the day hugged their loved ones a little tighter and approached their lives with a deeper appreciation of the things they had.

Today, wherever you are, pause for a second and remember the 56, their families and their friends. Give a moment of thanks for your own life, and the wonderful things we’ve enjoyed this year, and give those you love a huge hug.

56 people went to a football match 39 years ago and never came home.

Rest in peace