chapter  1
‘Heads in the Sand’: Football, Politics and Crowd Disasters in Twentieth-Century Britain
Pages 18

Over the course of the twentieth century, 276 people lost their lives in disasters at UK football grounds.

Yet it is surprising that such tragedies did not occur more frequently. The rapid speed with which the game’s popularity developed in the late nineteenth century meant that football grounds were built quickly and crudely. Any profits that clubs made were usually invested in players rather than spectators’ facilities. Eager to see their teams succeed on the pitch, fans were usually happy with such prioritizing. Thus, as the century progressed and the game developed on and off the field, improvements in the condition of grounds were limited. Inside these grounds were often large, compact, swaying and sometimes inflamed crowds. Quite simply, the assembly of large numbers of excited supporters on decrepit terraces was a recipe for disaster.