IT WAS just too late to make the final edition before the newspaper went to press.

The last Evening Times of the day on January 2, 1971 was full of praise for the Old Firm players who had made that afternoon’s derby such a thrilling affair.

“Two goals come in last 90 seconds!” said the headline on the sports pages, paying tribute to scorers Jimmy Johnstone and Colin Stein.

Only a short, devastating sentence on the back page revealed that in fact, this game had ended in catastrophe.

‘Fans Die As Ibrox Barrier Collapses’, said the small headline, at the bottom of the page in the space reserved for breaking news in the days before websites and social media.

‘Believed three fans died and 70 injured when barrier collapsed.’

Glasgow Times: 'Evidence showed that the steel handrails that were seen as an essential safety element in guiding people downstairs also served to jam people together'Evidence showed that the steel handrails that were seen as an essential safety element in guiding people downstairs also served to jam people together

By the next edition on Monday, January 4, the true horror of the situation had been revealed.

Glasgow and Scotland were in mourning. In fact, 66 people had died, more than 145 had been injured, in a crush as fans left after the final whistle.

Rangers players were ‘visibly shaken’, manager Willie Waddell told reporters.

“All are affected by Saturday’s terrible tragedy,” he said.

Ibrox Disaster: Glasgow first aider remembers tragedy 50 years on

Training at Ibrox was cancelled, the club’s next fixture with Cowdenbeath was also called off, and players instead visited some of the survivors in hospital.

Waddell was to go on and instruct them to attend the funerals of all of the victims, which they did with dignity.

Glasgow Times:

Our front page two days after the tragedy carried photographs of midfield player Dave Smith visiting James Millar, 14, from Denny, shattered by the death of his friend and recovering from his own injuries.

The crush was so great, the boy told Dave, that there was nothing anyone could do. Another survivor, Alex Coultar, told how he plucked a young boy out of the crush to safety.

News that more than one inquiry into the tragedy could take place was greeted with support from MPs.

“As Glasgow went into mourning today, with flags at half-mast, city MPs urged that the terms of reference of any inquiry should be as far-reaching as possible,” said the report.

“Mr Bruce Millan, Labour MP for Craigton, said – ‘One would hope it would go beyond this particular tragedy and be able to produce recommendations for implementation everywhere.’”

Govan and Ibrox MP Mr John Rankin was quoted as saying: “It was incredible to see the way the powerful supports on the Ibrox stairway were twisted like paper.”

The Evening Times backed a Disaster Fund appeal launched by the then Lord Provost, Donald Liddell.

Glasgow Times:

A Requiem Mass was said in St Andrew’s Cathedral, featuring readings from Celtic player Jim Craig and TV commentator Bob Crampsey.

Newspapers around the world put the story on their front pages as football authorities in countries like Germany looked into the standard of safety at their own grounds.

READ MORE: Rangers legend Derek Johnstone on the Ibrox Disaster, helping the survivors and paying tribute to the 66

Messages of condolence came from US President Richard Nixon, German Chancellor Willy Brandt and New Zealand Prime Minister Sir Keith Holyoake, among many others.

By January 6, more than £8500 had been donated in cash to the Disaster Fund, sent to the offices of the Lord Provost, who had to take on extra staff to cope.

Glasgow Times:

Promised donations by this point, including pledges from Rangers, Celtic and Glasgow Corporation, totalled more than £80,000.

The Lord Provost said: “There has been an excellent response to our appeal – if we are so deeply moved by this occurrence – and I know that you all share my profound regret – what must be the magnitude of the loss sustained by the relatives and friends of the deceased?

“The accident on Saturday at Ibrox is one of the greatest tragedies ever to have taken place in our midst.”