Phil Shaw’s story: The real hero was not me, but Mick Bland.

I had gone to the game along with 2 others, just like thousands of others that day. That, like all other accounts is the same, however, when it all happened and all hell broke lose, my story differs.

imageMy friend Martin realised this was bad so we climbed the fence at the bottom of the kop and made our way onto the pitch, we didn’t really know what we were going to do ,or how to help, when his brother Mick (Michael) suddenly ran ahead and jumped into the burning stand, we were right behind him, he appeared with a boy, passed him to me and as I led him to safety Mick jumped back into the burning stand.

He appeared again helping an old man and I watched as a policeman helped lead the man to safety, Mick jumped back into the now burning  stand, and yet again I watched as he helped others pull someone else to safety, I ran to help, so did Martin, we were shouting to help each other, the flames beat me back, and I burnt my head and hands, I put my jean jacket over my head to help and went again, suddenly my jacket was took from me, it was Mick, he shouted me to stay back, and yet again he disappeared into the smoke and flames with my jacket over his head.

That was the last I saw of Mick and Martin that day. Back then there was no mobile phones to keep in touch, we did however meet up later that night. They had made their way to the hospital somehow, Martin suffering from smoke inhalation and Mick with burns to his hands. Mick had evidently gone back into the burning stand again and helped rescue others, before finally being rescued himself.

These feats of outstanding bravery eventually led to the Queens commendation for bravery, deservedly so, this is all documented. However, here’s how it all happened. In the following weeks when appeals were made, I notified the police that my jacket had gone missing. I feared it totally lost but gave the description of what it looked like.

One day I had a knock on my door and a policeman asked if I could identify photos of my jacket and confirm it was actually mine, as you can see, the badge, the 1981 Yorkshire roadrunners scooter club members badge was on my sleeve and the roadrunner was an embroidery that I’d had done on the back.

The officer said I was a hero and had been looking for me, eventually tracking me down through the jacket. I was so happy it was not lost, but I had to stop him and explain what had really happened and who the real hero was, not me, but Mick Bland.

The rest as you say is history, but this was my story of events on that fateful day back in May 1985. A day that many like me will never forget and have their own stories to tell.

I did eventually get my jacket back, singed and stinking of smoke, I managed to save the badge and embroidery but that’s now all that’s left, that and the memories of how something so simple enabled an ordinary lad to be recognised for his extraordinary feats. A lad I can say with pride, was my mate.

48 thoughts on “Phil Shaw’s story: The real hero was not me, but Mick Bland.

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