Skip to main content
Read page text

Page Text

lnal.s Norwich (0) ............. o

46,553

Park) Nottm Fst (0) ............ o doned· after 7 mins.)

through "sickness" of accused police officers , and the relationship between public inquiries and inquests into disasters of this type and scale. None of this , of course, will cut any ice at all with the Liverpool group and their determined and unending search for "justice".

I was atthe game in 1989, initially at least, as a fan . I remember being told about the alleged "broken gate C" atthe Leppings Lane end and later examiningitwith officials as distraught supporters who had been in the area - I was in the North Stand- told us that the police themselves had opened it. No shame there it seemed at the time; after all , fans had been pleading with police for a release from dangerous overcrowding outside which itself had threatened serious injury or worse. Why was no one properly organising the crowds outside? Having no plans to to distribute the supporter flood into the ground away from the already crowded and inescapable central pens was what eventually proved fatal , of course. Would a more experienced chief officer have done things differently?

Frozen inaction in the face of CCTV pictures and one's own eyes that said that fans were clearly in trouble in the central areas compounded the initial crucial error. N otthatthe design of the stadium offered much scope forremedial action at that late stage. Given this awful, but hardly unimaginable, catalogue of police mistakes, Hillsborough was like many other football grounds then - a potential death trap. The general chaos, horror and lack of preparedness for something on this scale at football meant that the seriously injured, who might now be saved in similar circumstances, then had little chance.

If the disaster itself was avoidable and tragic, the treatment of th e families later by the police was little short ofinhumane and repellent. Personal and professional damage limitation - the attempted cover up soon swung into action. What was truly shameful here were the police attempts to continue to fly the drunken fans/broken gate stories , later aided disgracefully by the Sun, and to treat the bereaved like little more than contemptible rubbish.

After all, these were just football supporter families (many people on Merseyside would add "from Liverpool" here), people with no obvious power to organise or to question the police case or their own despicable treatment at the hands of the South Yorkshire force . "They can be rubbished" must have been the thinking of these so-called public "servants". How little the police knew.

Ironically, many of those supporters who died would have been among the very first in the ground, arriving early to get a good vantage point. They would, in fact , have been among the very last supporters to have been "on the ale" on the day. Many Liverpool and Forest fans at Hillsborough had been drinking , of course. There is no shame in this. This was English FA

"If the disaster itself was avoidable and tragic, the treatment of the families later by the police was little short of inhumane and repellent."

Cup semi-final day, after all, traditionally a major day ~

:::..-

When Saturday Comes 17

Skip to main content