A family of Bradford City supporters stood in the Midland Road stand, excitedly awaiting kick off of the match that was a celebration of the Bantams title winning campaign.
They managed to attract Stuart McCall’s attention and asked if he would sign their programme. He duly obliged and then went on to get the entire team to sign it, along with some of the opposition players. It was the kind of gesture that epitomised the spirit and ethos of the City team of that period. Minutes later the game kicked off. Bradford City v Lincoln City, 11 May 1985.
Within forty minutes of the programme being signed, Valley Parade’s main stand was engulfed in flames.
For nearly thirty years the programme has remained in that same family’s possession, but they recently decided it was time that the programme, along with its poignant signatures and memories, was returned to Bradford.
The family’s Bradford City obsession began with Albert Langton, now eighty-six years old, who is a life-long City fan. He attended virtually every home game from childhood until a move to Cornwall twenty-four years ago. Today he still avidly follows the club’s fortunes.
Albert took his daughter Veronica to Valley Parade from a young age. She, perhaps inevitably, became a life long supporter and even converted her husband Michael Whittaker from Leeds United to Bradford City fan when they married some forty-five years ago. Indeed, it was Michael who persuaded Stuart McCall to sign their programme back in 1985. Their son Matthew Whittaker is naturally a City fan and was at Wembley with his father when City crowned their remarkable 2012/13 season with victory in the play-off final.
The family felt the programme should be put on display at Valley Parade in order to ensure its survival for future generations. They felt it would be morally wrong to sell the programme and so chose to donate it to the safe keeping of the club.
David Pendleton of the bantamspast museum said: "It is our absolute pleasure to receive, and put on display, the programme. Given the subsequent events of that terrible day in May 1985, the signed programme has an air of poignancy and is a reminder of the joyous atmosphere that was so cruelly shattered by the fire disaster.
‘It is a lovely gesture to donate the programme. I thank them on behalf of the club and hope that they enjoy many more decades following the fortunes of their beloved Bantams. It really is heart-warming and very typical of City fans to recognise our shared history and thereby ensure that the programme will be preserved for future generations of supporters."
The programme is on display in a glass cabinet, along with many other items relating to 11 May 1985, in the Chairman’s Suite at Valley Parade.