Another sad commemoration this week is the one of the Heyzel disaster of 1985 where 39 people died, many were wounded and thousand were shocked. The important match opponing Liverpool FC and the Juventus of Turin who took place at the Heyzel stadium in Brussels was classed at risk long before it took place but nobody expected this to happened. A general fight broke out in tribune Z, normally used for neutral supporters but full of italian supporters. People were tramped, crushed and pushed. Journalists on the scene talked of « war theatre ». Those of the public trying to flee the scene,often fathers with children,were literally walking on bodies. A good part of the stadium was too far to see what was going on in fatal tribune Z and were totally unaware of the drama unfolding. Even with such events going on, the game was played as there were fears of more dangers if the match was cancelled and the stadium fully evacuated. Most shocking to many was the joyful reaction of Michel Platini as he scored in such terrible circumstances.
Just like the Innovation disaster in 1967 for shops, this drama has totally changed the way football matches and crowd managing was organised in Belgium. The name of the stadium was changed in 1995 to Roi Baudouin/Koning Boudewijn but a commemoration plaque unveiled to never forget.
30 years from now, the disaster is still in all memories, especially the British community in Belgium. For the commemoration of the 25th year, Liverpool FC chaplain, Bill Bygrove, made this address to the representant of Juve and it’s so well written that I can’t resist copying it here from Liverpool FC website :
« We can’t change our history or dry up all our tears. We cannot solve the mysteries still unanswered down these years. But we can, for all our children’s sake and for the 39, build a monument of friendship that will stand the test of time. It is estimated the average person can live 40 days without food, five days without water, eight minutes without air, but only one second without hope. The anthem of this club is ‘walk on with hope in your heart’. We would ask you to express to those who continue to walk many miles with sorrow that they should walk on with hope in their heart. And from this club, to your club, to our friends in Italy, please say ‘You do not stand alone, you do not grieve alone and you do not walk alone. »
A Belgian TV video is to see at http://www.sonuma.be/archive/le-drame-du-heysel
And if the sports archives is of interest to you and your family history, the place to go to consult Belgian sport archives is the Sportimonium in Hofstade even if the Royal Library also have a huge collection of books and informations on clubs and championships of all kind. Newspapers collection also to consult at the Royal Library or more and more online is a good source too for matches reports and teams compositions, even at a less important leveL Several years ago, the States Archives of Belgium did set up « Gooaal! » , a exhibtion on Belgian Football, the archives of the Belgian Football Association are kept at the Archives, and this exhibition is still to see online at http://goaaal.arch.be/index.php?l=fr.