Leeds Rhinos Nostalgia: Spectators have lucky escape as North Stand catches fire during game in 1932

WHEN COMPLETED, in May, Emerald Headingley's new main stand will be '“ Leeds Rhinos' management believe '“ one of the best facilities in rugby league.

Monday, 7th January 2019, 4:45 am
Updated Wednesday, 9th January 2019, 12:31 pm
The fire brigade fight the blaze in Headingleys old North Stand in 1932 which began during Leeds game with Halifax.

The all-seater structure is part of a £45m redevelopment also including the new two-tier South Stand which was officially opened on Boxing Day.

Shared with Yorkshire County Cricket Club, it will be the third stand to have been built on the north side of the rugby complex.

The previous North Stand, which was constructed in three stages beginning at the turn of the century, came to a sad end on Good Friday, March 25, 1932.

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Leeds were playing Halifax in the sides’ third meeting in seven days, following a 2-2 draw in a Challenge Cup semi-final at Fartown, Huddersfield, on Saturday, March 19 and the Loiners’ 9-2 replay triumph at Wakefield the following Wednesday.

The league encounter kicked off at 3.30pm and almost immediately smoke began to appear through the flooring at the pavilion end of the North Stand. Spectators began to climb over the wall into the paddock section in front of the stand and then spilled on to the field, forcing referee R Robinson to abandon play with only 10 minutes gone and the scores locked at 0-0.

The fire brigade was called, but a strong wind fanned the flames forcing both sets of players – still in kit and carrying their belongings – to flee the changing rooms.

The pavilion was saved, but at 4.05pm the cricket stand roof caught fire and by 5pm the entire structure had been destroyed.

There were 17,000 spectators in the ground, 2,000 of them in the North Stand, when the blaze erupted, but all escaped unharmed.

The cause of the fire was believed to be a discarded match or cigarette.

Leeds lost their next two matches, away to Hull on Easter Saturday and at Dewsbury two days later, but were back at a forlorn-looking Headingley on April 2, when they were beaten by Oldham.

The Halifax game was replayed on April 18 and Leeds won 18-10.

A new North Stand, the one eventually demolished at the end of 2017, was in place by May, 1933, having been built at a cost of £20,000 by Leeds rugby league chairman Sir Edwin Airey’s construction company.


Leeds 0 Halifax 0

March 25, 1932

Leeds: Brough, Harris, Moores, O’Rourke, Goulthorpe, Williams, Busch, Smith, Lowe, Satterthwaite, Jenkins, Jones, Glossop.

Halifax: R Davies, Sherburn, Haigh, Higgs, Maloney, I Davies, Hanson, Frowen, Renton, Rawnsley, Bland, Crabtree, Norcliffe, Atkinson.

Referee: R Robinson.

Attendance: 17,000.




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