May 2024

Hillsborough – Liverpool fans blameless as usual

There have been four major football disasters in Europe in the last 45 years – Ibrox 1971 (fans crushed) 66 dead, Heysel 1985 (fans fighting) 39 dead, Bradford 1985 (fire) 56 dead and Hillsborough 1989 (fans fighting) 96 dead. Curiously, Liverpool fans have been involved in two of these four – Heysel and Hillsborough – the two caused by rival fans fighting each other.

The Hillsborough inquiry, costing us taxpayers many millions, has finally come to a conclusion 27 years after the event – all those who died were innocent victims who were ‘unlawfully killed’. I’ve written before about how (even though my family comes from Liverpool) I suspect the whole thing is yet another attempt by whining scousers to portray themselves as eternal victims and then, in an age where nobody ever takes responsibility for their own actions, to ‘win the lottery’ by claiming vast amounts in compensation from British taxpayers.

I’m sure that in all these disasters the stadiums were dilapidated, the organisation terrible, the police reaction incompetent and then there were attempts by the authorities to cover up their own inadequacies. But in my opinion, if at Hillsborough and Heysel the fans had not behaved like a bunch of drunken, feral savages, perhaps there wouldn’t have been any need for the authorities to intervene in the first place?

hillsborough and Heysel

However, I’ve been contacted by a reader who says he was at both Hillsborough and Heysel and so, in the interests of balance, here’s his side of the story. Readers can make up their own minds about where the truth lies – drunken, out-of control idiots from Liverpool or innocent victims of poor policing and dreadful crowd control.

“I was there. People arrived late due to major road works, joining the people outside the turnstiles. Some fans who had managed to get to Sheffield early had been to the pubs in the area, which was normal then and is normal now. Having a couple of pints and heading to a stadium to see the game and gaining access safely, even on late arrival, was a common event during the terrace stadium days. But, what happened that day could have been prevented by better police practice and better stewarding.”

“Nobody was trying to storm the turnstiles. Thousands of ticket holders became stuck outside the Leppings Lane end, due to the small number of entrances being unable to cope with the sudden and late arrivals. The police lost control of the situation. The order was given by the police to open a exit gate to let people in, to relieve the crowd pressure outside. The stadium was unable to deal with the surge through the gate, with people being forced down the tunnel behind the goal. The pen behind the goal overfilled and people were crushed to death.”

“So in my opinion, the fans could not be blamed for what happened in any way. Poor organisation of policing outside and inside the ground was very evident on the day. The lack of medical services at the stadium. A couple of ambulances allowed to the seat of the crush, with many, many more lined up in the road outside not given permission to go onto the pitch. All of theses factors caused this terrible event.”

“With regards to the Heysel tragedy, twelve months before in Rome, Liverpool fans, including many women and children had been attacked by Roma fans on exiting the stadium. Concrete and other items had been hurled down on them from a road above, injuring many fans. At Heysel a lot of Liverpool supporters had talked of not letting the Italians off if they began trouble this time.”

“Outside Heysel a number of Italians had slashed Liverpool fans with knives across the legs and backsides. Inside the stadium, zone Z was due to be a neutral area, next to the Liverpool fans. In fact it was almost full with Italians. With a small number of English in there. They came under attack from some Juventus fans. This was seen by Liverpool fans across the chicken wire fence. The Liverpool fans then charged at the Italians. They backed away causing many, many fans to be forced against the wall, which gave way. In my opinion our fans should not have charged, they should have let the police deal with the issues in zone Z. But, my feeling is the crowd had reacted due to the previous year’s events and incidents on the day.”

“What happened at both stadiums could have been prevented. Better policing at both. The wrong stadiums had been selected. Both were antiquated. The ticket allocations by the 2 football bodies left a lot to be desired. Segregation at Heysel. The larger Liverpool following at Hillsborough should have had the larger Kop end, with many more turnstiles.”

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