IT WAS A terrible moment in time, a ‘football calamity,’ reported the Glasgow newspapers, as the country reeled in shock.

Almost 80,000 fans had attended the Scotland v England friendly at Ibrox stadium this week, 119 years ago.

It was the 31st international and the first between wholly professional teams, and it ended in a 1-1 draw.

But the day was to go down as one of the darkest in Scottish footballing history, as 26 fans died and 547 were injured when a section of wooden terracing collapsed.

It was April 5, 1902, and the Rangers home ground was state of the art, built at what was then a huge cost of £20,000.

According to our sister title The Glasgow Herald, both Rangers and Celtic had bid to host the celebrated match, with Ibrox winning the opportunity by just a single vote.

During the first half of the match, a section of the newly built West Tribune Stand collapsed, sending hundreds of people plunging on to the concrete floor below.

READ MORE: Ibrox Disaster 50 years on - a day that changed football forever

Two spectators were declared dead at the scene, and a further twenty-three died of injuries sustained in the incident soon after, the last victim dying three weeks later.

Despite the collapse, the match actually continued after a short break as officials feared trying to clear crowds from the ground could interfere with rescue attempts and lead to further panic and crush.

It meant, reported the Herald, that ‘grotesquely, the applause of the crowd was punctuated by groans from the injured and dying.’

Many spectators apparently left at the end of the game unaware of exactly what had happened.

The Herald described the scene as a ‘inescapable horror and confusion.’

Wooden joists, which had been laid on a steel framework supporting wooden decking, snapped clean through.

A hole of around “20 yards square” opened up as spectators fell through, around 40 feet to the ground.

Rescuers found: “a scene of indescribable horror and confusion . . . a mass of mangled and bleeding humanity, the victims piled one above the other . . . enough to unman the strongest.”

The resources of the city’s

hospitals were over-stretched. Doctors in the crowd leant immediate help, but at Govan police station, cells were called into service as a casualty clearing station.

The scale of disfiguring injuries can best be judged from a Herald report of how the father of one unfortunate victim went to the Western Infirmary on the Saturday night in the hope of finding his 25-year-old son, William Robertson.

He was not among the injured, so the father was shown to the mortuary where he identified a body as being that of William.

He was arranging the funeral when his son arrived home at Bainsford, Falkirk.

The accident was reported in the Herald on the Monday.

The previous day there had been hardly any debris at the scene, according to Glasgow Herald reporters. Virtually all the timber and sheets of corrugated iron had been used as makeshift stretchers.

The match was declared void and was replayed in Birmingham. All proceeds went to the disaster fund.

The contractor was later prosecuted and acquitted. The accident ended the practice of supporting wooden terracing on steel frames. Earth embankments or concrete terracings were introduced instead.

There were no further significant safety developments in Scotland until the second Ibrox Disaster, in 1971, when 66 fans died.