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Hillsborough – Liverpool fans blameless saints as usual?

(Friday blog)

There have been four major football disasters in Europe in the last 49 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. All of them involved British football fans and, curiously, Liverpool fans have been involved in two of these four – Heysel and Hillsborough – the two caused mainly by rival fans fighting each other:

hillsborough and Heysel

The Hillsborough inquiries and court cases, costing us taxpayers at least £65,000,000, have possibly finally come to a conclusion yesterday about 30 years after the event. The way Hillsborough is portrayed in the mainstream media constantly claims that all those who died were innocent victims who were ‘unlawfully killed’. There is never any suggestion of Liverpool fans behaving like a violent drunken mob, of Liverpool fans without tickets trying to storm into the stadiums or of Liverpool fans fighting rival supporters.

I’ve written before about how (even though my family comes from Liverpool) I worry that the whole thing is yet another attempt by our friends from Liverpool 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. Also, the disaster was probably made worse as (I think) at that time many football stadiums had high fences to prevent drunk, violent fans from invading the pitch or throwing things at the players.

But what if at Hillsborough and Heysel the fans had not behaved like a bunch of drunk, feral savages? What if mobs of fans without tickets hadn’t tried to force their way into the stadiums? What if the fans hadn’t decided to taunt, throw things at and fight each other instead of watching the game? Then perhaps there wouldn’t have been any need for the authorities to intervene in the first place? Who knows? All I know is that political correctness prevents us even asking these kinds of questions.

I have written about this before and last time I was 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, violent idiots from Liverpool many of whom may not have had tickets and thus tried to barge in free or innocent, saintly, well-behaved, mild-mannered victims of terrible conditions, 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.”

3 comments to Hillsborough – Liverpool fans blameless saints as usual?

  • William Boreham

    I’m no fan of Liverpool supporters, but an e-mail I dug out I sent to someone. I forget who.
    Bit like the Grenfell disaster, incidents like this expose the total lack of competent LEADERSHIP in our various public services today.
    At Grenfell, thousands of the general public were outside watching the catastrophe and screaming the common sense advice to those at the windows of that tower block – get the hell out!
    While the ‘experts,’ the top brass of the London Fire Brigade were still telling the occupants to stay put.
    Stay put and die.

    The e-mail I sent three years ago – You have more confidence in the honesty and integrity of our police than I have.
    Seemed obvious for years, they were lying through their teeth, protecting their backs.
    Steyn calls our modern PC police – the Guardian’s storm troopers.
    I see now Freemasonry is also implicated – surprise-surprise as far as our constabulary is concerned.
    Just yesterday, I see those 4 students cleared of rape were being stitched up with false evidence – to increase rape conviction figures!

    I usually view the Guardian with the same feelings I would viewing Mao’s Little Red Book, but they have written a very good account of that shocking police cover-up over the Hillsborough disaster.
    At the time, I was ready to believe that the Liverpool ‘fans’ were the usual and worst of the drunken yobs that frequented football grounds especially back then – and responsible for the tragedy.
    But later information disclosed those who died were from all walks of life and many very respectable people indeed. I’m glad the truth has finally come out.

    By chance, rare for me, I was watching the TV coverage of the incident at that time and from just what I could see on the television, I was screaming at the set – “For goodness sake, someone take charge, there is something awful clearly happening and the police are just standing there doing bugger-all!”
    It seems the police I saw were mindlessly carrying out their orders to keep the Liverpool supporters from getting onto the pitch.

    “As events unfolded, some police officers were still deployed making a cordon three-quarters of the way down the pitch to prevent Liverpool supporters reaching the opposing supporters. Some fans tried to break through the cordon to ferry injured fans to waiting ambulances but were forcibly turned back.”

    Can you believe this! – 44 ambulances arrived, but police prevented all but one from entering the stadium. Only 14 of the 96 fatally injured people arrived at a hospital.

    A report in 2012:
    The panel concluded that “up to 41” of the 96 who perished might have survived had the emergency services’ reactions and co-ordination been improved. The number is based on post-mortem examinations which found some victims may have had heart, lung or blood circulation function for some time after being removed from the crush. The report stated that placing fans who were “merely unconscious” on their backs would have resulted in their deaths.
    An eminent doctor and one of the Liverpool ‘fans’ whose testimony they tried to discredit:
    From the Taylor Report written just after the disaster:
    Taylor concluded his criticism of South Yorkshire Police by describing senior officers in command as “defensive and evasive witnesses” who refused to accept any responsibility for error.

    “In all some 65 police officers gave oral evidence at the Inquiry. Sadly I must report that for the most part the quality of their evidence was in inverse proportion to their rank.”

  • Jeff Palmer

    It wouldn’t have happened at a Rugby match, no matter how big. End of story.

  • Stillreading

    Hillsborough was ghastly and if I were a spouse, parent, son or daughter, brother or sister of one of those who died, I would be every bit as outraged by yesterday’s verdict as are those who suffered loss of loved ones. Not all those killed or injured were of the hooligan brigade – when tragedy strikes, so often it is the innocent who suffer and the culpable who get safely away. Fathers were there with their young sons and daughters, wives with their husbands and death struck randomly. Management by the police of a potentially lethal situation was undoubtedly appallingly inefficient and there can, I feel, be very little doubt that all involved, directly or peripherally, closed ranks to protect themselves, their colleagues, or their careers. There could have been no excuse whatsoever, for instance, for preventing ambulances entering the ground. Had the para-medics been permitted to do their job, many who died may well have survived. Surely, though, it’s now time to put this to bed, to regret the deaths, to – in that horribly overused cliché – acknowledge that “lessons have been learned”, with the creation of seated stadia and control of numbers entering. We do, though, repeatedly witness the fact that lessons concerning hooliganism have most certainly not been learned by a significant number of so-called fans, whose conduct, particularly at away matches abroad, continues to be deplorable. However, our sad nation has other, more immediate, causes for concern now than fans of rival football teams enjoying a mutual set-to. Cultural enrichment is here now to provide regular diversion. The latest manifestation evidently occurred on London Bridge earlier this afternoon.

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