Residents of a Fife village have come together to pay tribute to five local boys who perished in the Ibrox Stadium Disaster.
The close knit community of Markinch suffered its darkest of days on January 2, 1971 when Rangers fans Peter Easton, 13, 14-year-olds Bryan Todd, Ronald Paton and Mason Philip and 15-year-old Douglas Morrison, were among the 66 that were crushed to death as fans left the stadium following the end of a league game versus Celtic.
The five friends, four of which lived in the same street, failed to return home leaving a dark shadow over the community.
Around 60 relatives, friends and fans gathered at the memorial stone in Park View, just yards from where the boys lives, to lay floral tributes, scarfs and wreaths in the boys memory.
Amid bright but frosty conditions, minister Alistair McLeod lead a poignant and moving memorial service, speaking of the grief Markinch had carried for 50 years.
“In this village and in other places where there were folk shocked at the scale of the disaster, we remember five young boys who were killed that afternoon,” said the minister.
“Eight young boys left home together as they often did to go with pals to watch a football match, full of life, energy and enthusiasm.
“But only three boys of the eight returned home.
“Mums and dads, whole families and this community were united in raw grief and they made a promise that the Markinch boys would never be forgotten.”
Following prayers for all five of the victims, those with their own floral tributes, wreaths and scarves stepped forward to place them at the foot of a memorial stone bearing the boys’ names.
Shane Fenton, a close friend of the boys who went with them to the game, said it was important for the memory of his pals “never to be forgotten”.
“It’s hardly believable it is now 50 years since that day, the memories still being so raw and fresh in my mind,” he said.
“Eight of us went to Glenrothes that day to catch the supporters buses to the game and being a Celtic supporter I was in a different part of the ground.”
He said: “It wasn’t until they never returned on the buses that worry set in and I waited late into the night in the hope that they would return on the last train or bus but they never did.
“We were all pals, so young, it was such a loss. They will always be remembered.”
Clutching a school photo, Pat O’Brian, was there to remember her former class mates.
“Being such a small community I knew all five boys, it was such an awful loss felt by the whole of Markinch,” she said.
Amongst the many tributes, including a supporters jersey sent from the Kiwi branch of the Rangers Supporters Club and flowers from ‘Friends at Dunfermline Athletic’, was a wreath from Glenrothes Royal Supporters Club, laid by club organiser Ronnie Baine.
He said: “Despite the covid restrictions it was important to pay our own tribute to those fellow fans on behalf of our 96 club members.
“Their memory will live on.”