The Main Stand fire, August 1968

by , June 4, 2009

Younger readers may not be aware that Forest, like Bradford, also had a stand burn down during a game, but thankfully without loss of life.

The game was against Leeds on August 24, 1968, the time when Forest were in the old First Division, hardly ripping up trees, but playing delightful football, and winning nothing, under the stewardship of Johnny Carey.

I was sitting in what is now D Block of the Main Stand, watching a good game on a fine day, courtesy of Don Revie’s formidable Leeds team, who would end the season as champions. During the game, with Forest 1-0 up, I became aware of wisps of smoke seeping into the stand from the stairwells serving blocks E and F (as they are known now).

As the game progressed, the smoke increased and I became more than a little concerned that this wasn’t just cigarette smoke and that something more serious could be afoot.

Desperate times need desperate measures, so when the announcement came to abandon ship, I hoofed it, along with others, to the front of the stand and dropped down onto the edge of pitch. I turned back to see flames replacing smoke where I’d been sitting. I didn’t feel the heat because I’d put a lot of distance between me and the stand, but it didn’t stop me feeling that I might well have had a lucky escape, along with everyone else. Thankfully there were no serious injuries, although the stand was completely gutted.

Even though all those fans were on the pitch, so were many of the players because the dressing rooms were under the Main Stand and I well remember being alongside Terry Hennessey, the Forest captain, but I was so preoccupied with events off the pitch, he took second place to the fire.

As a result of the fire, Forest played next six home games at Meadow Lane – and won none of them, a run which ultimately led to the departure of Johnny Carey in December 1968.