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

The fire brigade fight the blaze in Headingley's old North Stand in 1932 which began during Leeds' game with Halifax.
The fire brigade fight the blaze in Headingley's old North Stand in 1932 which began during Leeds' game with Halifax.
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WHEN COMPLETED, in May, Emerald Headingley’s new main stand will be – Leeds Rhinos’ management believe – one of the best facilities in rugby league.

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.

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.

MATCH STATS

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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ON THIS DAY

1990

Lee Crooks played his final game for Leeds when they won 20-8 at Widnes on this day in 1990. Leeds’ try scorers were Gary Lord, Garry Schofield and Mark Laurie – in the last match of his 10-week spell – and Colin Maskill added four goals.

1989

Paul Dixon’s Leeds debut ended in a 15-6 defeat at St Helens 30 years ago tomorrow. Andrew Ettingshausen, pictured above, crossed and David Stephenson added a goal for Leeds who would have gone top of the table had they won.

1976

A flu epidemic meant both teams were under-strength when Leeds won 13-10 at Widnes on this day 43 years ago. Leeds hit back from 7-0 down through tries by Phil Cookson and ‘Sammy’ Sanderson, plus three goals from David Marshall and a Kevin Dick one-pointer.

1973

Syd Hynes scored a brace of tries, but Leeds were outclassed 26-16 at Hull KR 46 years ago today. David Jeanes and Barry Parker also touched down for the visitors and Terry Clawson booted two goals.

BIRTHDAY

Neil Harmon: Harmon, who made more than 100 appearances for Leeds from 1993-96, celebrates his 50th birthday on Wednesday.