Ibrox disaster: 'The shouting stopped because the air was getting squeezed out of your lungs'

IAN LOCH was one of the lucky ones. For every day of the past 40 years, as he has watched his two daughters grow up and then enjoy the pleasure of being a grandparent, he has reminded himself of his good fortune.

He was 19 at the time of the Ibrox Disaster, an apprentice furniture fitter from Partick who followed Rangers home and away. He remains a season- ticket holder at Ibrox, one whose recollections perhaps paint as striking a picture as any of what happened on Stairway 13. "I can tell you everything about it, as if it was yesterday," says Loch. "It's etched on my memory, from start to finish. When I first started to speak about it, the hairs always stood up on the back of my neck. The older you get, the more emotional you get about it and tears are never far away.

"You look back and realise how lucky you were. I've been fortunate that for the last 40 years I've experienced the highs and lows of life. I went to the game with two friends, Billy and George Tod, from Partick, and we made the usual subway journey to the Copland Road. We must have arrived late that day, because we couldn't get into the old shed, our usual part of the ground, because it was packed.

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"So we went behind the goal and halfway down the terracing instead. The game itself was pretty much a non-event until the two late goals. I was right behind the goal where Jimmy Johnstone put Celtic ahead before Colin Stein equalised.

"That's when we said 'right, let's go home and celebrate New Year'. We headed up the terracing, right to the top. You could either turn right towards Edmiston Drive or left towards the subway, which we would naturally do. There was a walkway which headed towards Stairway 13 and I remember thinking it was quite tight. But you were used to that, with the size of crowds at Ibrox and Hampden in those days.

"That day, it got tighter and tighter and, before we knew it, we were out on the edge of the concourse, facing down Stairway 13. That's where it all unfolded. The only way I can describe it is that it was like a pack of cards.

"Halfway down the steps, someone had fallen and everyone started falling on top of each other. At first, people were shouting 'get back, get back', but nobody was listening or could hear. It was like being in a vice. The shouting stopped, because people couldn't shout any more. The air was getting squeezed out of your lungs.

"I'd kept my arms up high, which was something my dad had always told me to do in a crowd, and that's probably what saved me. My head was up, so I still had some air. But I really thought I was a goner.

"For some reason, there was suddenly a bit of give beside me and I managed to squeeze myself up between the guys in front of me and behind me, then crawl over the wooden fence. Once I reached safety, I was walking about dazed. I'd lost my shoes, my ribs were bruised.An ambulance man got a hold of me and took me across to the bootroom to check me over. He gave me a pair of training shoes and sent me home. I later found out they belonged to (Rangers defender] Colin Jackson.

"I didn't know the full scale of the disaster until I got home, although I knew people had died because they were starting to lay out the bodies on the pitch when I was taken across it.

"My mum and dad were so relieved to see me come home. I found it difficult to deal with at first, but I went to the next game against Dundee United. I went to the Celtic end, which wasn't busy, and it was a strange and sad day.

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"At the end of that season, I got caught up in a small crush at Hampden when Rangers played Celtic in the Scottish Cup final. I said to myself 'that's it, I'm finished with the terracing'. I got a season ticket for the stand the following year and I've had it ever since.

"I still have flashbacks. I realise how lucky I was to escape. I now go to the games with my two grandchildren. I'll be there on Sunday and it will be difficult for me to keep my emotions in check."