Hillsborough: herewith probably the most unpopular post on the Net today

Like most people today, I find even myself gobsmacked and profoundly disgusted by the degree of statement manipulation, fitting up, and overall  Plod prejudice that condemned many Liverpool fans and victims of the Hillsborough tragedy to over two decades of undeserved ignominy.

But I’m sorry, I cannot accept the verdict of one former player, who this morning was quoted by a major MSM press title as asserting, “At long last, Liverpool fans have been absolved of any responsibility for Hillsborough”.

My antipathy towards the Sun’s sociopathic blob Kelvin Mackenzie is well-established, but in no way can Liverpool fans be given total absolution by this new generation of media priests. The suggestion that they bear no blame for the events of 23 years ago is absolute bollocks.

Several times both back then and since I have studied the CCTV footage of clearly identifiable Liverpool fans crashing one of the gates into the doomed semi-final. Although in no way unique to Liverpudlians, gate-charging was an already well-established way – long before 1989 – for hooligans to get into big games without a ticket.

The illegally forced entry placed an intolerable pressure on that end of the ground – and led to the sickening suffocation of innocent people who did have tickets. While I accept entirely that the Yorkshire police (a) moved at the speed of a snail on valium to do anything about it, and thus (b) displayed all the bravery of a hermit crab trained by Health & Safety, later (c) doubling their cowardly amorality while trying to fit up innocent fans, I do not accept this lachrymose rubbish about saintly Scousers….any more than I would have turned a blind eye to the criminal behaviour of Mancunians, East London skinheads and Celtic fans during that sorry era.

I’m allowed to say this, because I have very strong connections both to Liverpool and footie….and also because at one time I spent professional time working with the police. The real truth is that, after thirty years of dealing with undisciplined yobs at football games, Plod gradually did what Plod always does – start to see a sector of the public as The Enemy.

That doesn’t even begin to excuse those cops who later told gargoyles like Mackenzie that Liverpool fans had nicked the wallets off corpses and urinated on police. But equally, I have been to games where fans spat on the police, chanted obscenely about the police, and took a leak on the backs of those unfortunate enough to be standing in front of them.

It is a rule of social anthropology that any tribe threatening another tribe will create bigoted myths among the threatened. But any and all such myths are powered by a grain of truth.

The MSM seem able to forget this, whichever sensationalist way they happen to find themselves facing. So too do anti-Liverpool right-wingers, and Scousers-can-do-no-wrong lefties.

As is so often the case, reporting about such things depends not on where you were standing then, but where you sit now.

58 thoughts on “Hillsborough: herewith probably the most unpopular post on the Net today

  1. What about the 39?
    The Heysel Stadium disaster occurred on 29 May 1985 when escaping fans were pressed against a wall in the Heysel Stadium in Brussels, Belgium, before the start of the 1985 European Cup Final between Juventus of Italy and Liverpool of England. Thirty-nine Juventus fans died and an estimated 600 were injured.
    Approximately one hour before the Juventus-Liverpool final was due to kick off, a large group of football fans breached a fence separating them from a “neutral area” which contained Juventus fans. The Juventus fans ran back on the terraces and away from the threat into a concrete retaining wall. Fans already seated near the wall were crushed; eventually the wall collapsed. Many people climbed over to safety, but many others died or were badly injured. The game was played despite the disaster in order to prevent further violence.
    The tragedy resulted in all English football clubs being placed under an indefinite ban by UEFA from all European competitions (lifted in 1990–91), with Liverpool being excluded for an additional year and fourteen Liverpool fans found guilty of involuntary manslaughter and each sentenced to three years’ imprisonment. The disaster was later described as “the darkest hour in the history of the UEFA competitions”.

    • What about it?
      Has anyone suggested that the fans weren’t to blame?
      Similar to Hillsborough, Heysel was unfit for purpose, care to make any valid points about that?
      Mentioning Heysel has precisely what to do with the ‘laundering’ of police and ambulance reports?
      Heysel was truly a disgrace, Hillsborough was even worse as we denied our own citizens justice. Do you think this acceptable?

    • What about the 39? You haven’t got a clue what really happened?

      How do you know 39 were all Juventus fans?

      Do you know why it started?
      It started because in Rome the year before at the previous final, Liverpool fans (most Liverpool fans are not from Liverpool btw) were attacked by Italians with chains, and stabbed (usually in the buttocks) with knives in the Rome streets and roads.
      Even the Liverpool team coach was bottled by them.

      Before the 85 final, people from the ‘neutral’ section started throwing loose concrete from the stadium terrace and firing fireworks towards the Liverpool fans. This went on for a few minutes before sections (not a large group) of the Liverpool fans had had enough. Comments something like ‘remember Rome. They attacked us then but let’s fight back’ were made. That led to the charge toward the neutral section.
      The Belgian police observed.
      The ones who started it ran off. The innocents near the wall suffered.

      If anyone here believes no English club’s fans or Scottish for that matter wouldn’t have reacted the same, they are either lying or their fans take it up the crapper.

      Of course don’t let your hatred for Liverpool get in your way. You don’t mention the Belgian Police or UEFA who were also part of the reason that disaster happened, which is no surprise.

      • I agree with some of JW’s analysis. I’m a United fan and in the old days I’ve been stuck outside Old Trafford with groups of dickheads pushing from the back. And that happened after Hillsborough too.

        That said the fact remains that the authorities knew the nature of these things and the Leppings Lane End should have never been used for the more numerous Liverpool fans in the first place. United had been involved in a serious crush there a year or two earlier – as had Spurs and Leeds in ’81 and ’87.

        As regards Heysel, well if we apply JW’s tribal theory – and what Mop ed says about what happened to Liverpool fans in Rome is true* – then it was a disaster waiting to happen. That stadium should never have been used either.

        All football fans were tarred with the same brush because of the actions of hooligans. This fitted with elite opinion that working class people were recidivist scum.

        I am under no illusions that working class communities were centres of saintly behaviour or that the trade unions did make serious mistakes, but the reality is that both groups finished the 1980s broken and the stage was set for the concentration of power we see today. JW has little time for the unions but take a look at Denmark – union membership is very high and yet the country retains a high value economy and low levels of income inequality (which maintains social cohesion and keeps up aggregate demand).

        https://www.workindenmark.dk/en/Find_information/Information_for_job_seekers/Working_in_Denmark/Trade_unions

        A bit off topic there, but hey ho.

        Fair play though JW for saying that which goes against the current grain.

  2. I have a clear recollection of seeing TV film of the fans racing for the turn styles when the police lost control of the crowd. Their behaviour was not the police’s fault. As you say, the casualties were people who had paid and the police’s attempts to blacken them were despicable.

  3. I think the police have acted disgracefully by falsifying statements to cover up what really happened. However, I agree with what you have posted John.

    But I also feel concerned about Lord Falconer’s involvement in this – he and Michael Mansfield have offered their services free of charge. Why is that? I don’t believe for one microsecond that it is from the goodness of their hearts – I don’t know if Lord Falconer even has such an organ, and if he has it must surely be shaped like a piggy bank. Michael Mansfield was not interested in helping to investigate the Pindown child abuse (including the Haut de la Garenne) cover up – he replied to the letter I wrote to him asking for help pretty decisively stating that he did not want to get involved, call me cynical but that spoke volumes to me, even though he has a big reputation as a legal knight in shining armour.

    • I think we can safely assume that the apparent generosity of Falconer an Mansfield is not unrelated to it being possible the final opportunity to kick Margaret Thatcher while she’s still alive. They both have form.

      • Mansfield has never done anything that did not benefit Mansfield and the true flavour of the man is that he would not understand why that might be regarded as a criticism.

        I sincerely hope he is not still around come the revolution for if he were to ever achieve real influence, the rest of us would need more than religion to assist us.

  4. Fair and balanced comment John.

    One of the best chaps I ever worked with was a Scouser and the memory of his rueful smile as he reflected on the ability of his fellow Liverpudlians to milk martyrdom for all it’s worth is with me still. (“Don’t get me wrong C, I love the place – always will – but every time I go back there they do my f**kin head in with their ‘woe is us’ routine .. they really do”).

  5. Agreed John – on the simple basis that no groups of people are all alike, in my experience they consist of good, bad & indifferent.. I think it was Aldous Huxley who said that the intelligence of a mob is equal to it’s lowest common denominator, I have seen situations that had all or very similar ingrediants when I was a Stoke fan in the 70′s,that but for chance, could have easily ended in similar tragedy.

    I feel for the victims families, they have been sh`t on from a great height, 23 years is a total disgrace, like the turd in human clothing KM.

  6. Surely the important point about this is to prove the utter corruptability and lack of any real accountability of the police. Add this to the Met, Hackgate, john Charles de Meneses, the guy from Tottenham last year. The story is always the same: cover up, investigation and exhonouration.At worst someone retires early on pension. It is all completely beyond contempt and the MSM and the politicians cower before them and lie through their teeth to the public.

    • OAH: “It is all completely beyond contempt and the MSM and the politicians cower before them and lie through their teeth to the public.”

      Disagree. Don’t think they pols or the MSM cower before them per se. it’s just they need them. Or they feel they do. They’re useful. The Met would say the same back about the MSM if they were asked and honest. They’re symbiotic. If any one part of the tryst that is MSM/Pols/Police thought any other part wan’t useful they’d s**t on them straight away.

  7. On the net somewhere there’s footage of that year’s cup final, with Liverpool fans again trying to get into the stadium without tickets….some being hauled over the gates at Wembley.
    The entirely innocent nonsense over this report makes me puke.

    • I don’t know if it happened on the day but in the last 10 years I have seen a large gang of ticketless Liverpool fans charge turnstiles at one cup final and smaller groups push through turnstiles at another.
      As for the police. What does one say.Falsifying evidence is not new but this one was a biggie. Of course, what they did has been known for some time and it is not new evidence, it was merely suppressed presumably to kick the can down the road as far as possible.

    • You might do better if you acknowledged that Liverpool’s fans weren’t the only ‘bad’ ones!
      Enjoy your puke, it’ll make you feel better.

  8. ‘Federal Reserve announces QE3 to aid US recovery
    The Federal Reserve has embarked on what could prove its biggest round of quantitative easing so far in a bid to strengthen the US recovery. ‘
    It didn’t work the first time, it didn’t work the second time so, hey! let’s do it again.
    FFS, when will they wake up?
    I’m am reassured by the fact that the American public are mostly armed because, they need to shoot these arseholes that are reducing their purchasing power to satisfy the greedy bankers.

    • @kfc.How about bringing the remuneration package of MarK into line with the deferred payments of investment bankers,now in fashion.MarK’s responsibility,inflation,gloriously failed 59 times.’When will they wake up’?Good question.Look at Japan for keeping alive zombie banks.A gilts strike is due within 12 months.So far, my bearish forecasts have been premature,but

    • Hmm. Google “Celtic fan killed”; English fans may be more notorious thanks to Heysel and so on but Scottish football doesn’t have a glorious record in respect of fan behaviour. We also have had the two Ibrox disasters, in 1902 and 1971, both due to shoddy stadium conditions/ground safety. 25 killed 500+ injured at the former, 66 killed 200+ injured at the latter. Never had a disgraceful Police cover up like the English though.

      Speaking as an exiled Glaswegian (I’ve been living in England for over 30 years) I’ve come to think the public school old boy network in England leads to a them and us mentality where there is a lack of probity at top levels. They look after each other first and discharge their duty second.

      I wonder if the coppers/coroner/MP/judges had Masonic links in this case?

  9. I totally agree with you, John. I cannot understand the link between police corruption and 96 people being crushed to death. The pathetic, sycophantic journalism in the MSM today has just beggared belief.

    • The reason you can’t understand is all too clear from your use of the term ‘MSM’ – the meaningless catchphrase of the unthinking, reactionary US teabagger underclass. Fortunately your cluelessness is of a piece with most of the postings on this putrid article. Here’s a thought why not visit http://hillsborough.independent.gov.uk/repository/report/HIP_report.pdf and read the actual report – a report that far more intelligent people than you have spent so much time and effort compiling. It may add a scintilla of credibility to your future postings. Of course we both know that isn’t going to happen because it would take mental effort, far easier to just worthlessly bloviate.

    • Toby,

      So you do not find it curious that the police had to doctor 116 of their statements amongst many other shortcomings?

      The spectators had a reasonable reliance that the police were there to maximise the safety and security of everyone.

      The idea that the the emergency services executed their duties to anywhere near acceptable operational levels is baffling, if that is indeed your belief now that the Independent Review has been published.

      • On the doctored statements.

        It is claimed that the Police were assisted by a number of lawyers in this task.

        It would be interesting to know if these lawyers (or their firms) were later engaged in the Miner’s Compensation scam.

  10. John,

    I was at Manchester University from 1959 to 1966 and saw many if not most of United’s games at Old Trafford. In that stadium you had to climb up a lot of steps to reach the back / top of the terraces. The ground at Hillsborough was quite different; the entrances I used were more or less on a level with the top of the terraces. I only went there twice, but one visit was for an FA Cup semi-final Man. U v Liverpool (I think). It was a very big crowd and consequently I ended up at the back / top of the terraces. A large number of people arrived after the game had started, many smelling of drink and often very aggressive. To see the game the latecomers ran, jumped onto the shoulders of spectators on the back row of the terrace and pushed them onto the row below. This lead to a chain reaction with the inevitable compression of the crowd in a most unstable way. People staggered and one or two fell. I was young and well able to look after myself, but it was not a pleasant situation and borderline dangerous. This forcing people forward was not so easy to do at Old Trafford as the yobs would have had to run uphill and their launching level was lower than that of the spectator.

    I have often wondered how much the design of Hillsborough contributed to the tragedy. I left Manchester at the beginning of 1966 and rarely went to a soccer game thereafter. I never saw the pre-Munich team, but I witnessed the building of the Law-Best-Charlton team. That was a privilege.

  11. I spent a lot of time going to big football matches, when hooliganism was rife, including an FA Cup semi-final involving Liverpool at Hillsborough in 1980. I know that many fans turned up at ticket-only matches without a ticket expecting to be able to get in by paying cash at the turnstile. I was almost crushed at White Hart Lane at the League Cup semi-final replay in 1987 when Spurs let far too many Arsenal fans into the away end. There was also a cup-tie at QPR when West Ham fans paid in cash to get in. Fortunately on that occasion there was no fencing to stop them escaping onto the pitch. It was also well known that Liverpool fans were in the habit of getting into all-ticket matches without a ticket and without paying. That was the way it was. I also witnessed the mass pillage (you couldn’t call it shoplifting, it was a totally different scale) of shops in Zurich by Liverpool fans when they played a pre-season friendly there in 1981.

    I had seen the methods the police used to control potentially violent fans time and time again. Essentially it involved having heavy barricades set up so that fans could only approach the turnstiles in a controlled queue. It also involved zero tolerance of disobedience. You did what the police said or you missed the game by spending it in a police van. What I have seen of Hillsborough 1989 on film was quite different. The police lost control of the Liverpool fans because they were not prepared. They did not control the approach to the turnstiles. They allowed a situation to arise where no one was capable of resisting being carried along by the mass of people. This led to the fateful decision to open one of the gatesand to let the surge of fans into the stadium. That this should happen at a ground which held a semi-final almost every year was unforgiveable. That the police started their cover-up so early after the tragedy is almost certainly an admission of guilt andnot merely an exercise in PR.

    I do not deny that there were many Liverpool fans intent on rushing the turnstiles. However, there were also many Liverpool fans, who had tickets for the game, who did not get pissed before the match, who turned up early at the stadium to get a good position. I suspect that the majority of the deceased consisted of these fans and not the drunkards trying to force entry at the last minute.

  12. That’s football fans for you. I mean how often does the underground get busy? Do commuters all push and shove each other onto the tracks?

  13. What happened? What I mean is, why did that hooliganism erupt in English football in the late 60s, early 70s, leading on to Heysel and Hillsborough?

    When I was a boy, it was Scottish football that had a violent reputation, though my own experience was that all was peaceful and secure unless The Animals were in town i.e. the supporters of Rangers or Celtic. But by the time I attended a European match at Hibs (vs Leeds) in the late 60s or early70s, it was English football that was vile – a gang pissed on me in hopes of provoking the chance to beat me up. I repeat; what happened? Even a Liverpudlian couldn’t blame Thatcher for that.

  14. I didn’t read too much about this independent enquiry until the last day or so, but since doing so I’m more of a mind that this was more about painting a narrative picture than the independent enquiry it’s been sold to us as.

    A quick look at the panel seems to me to be who’s who either of Liverpudlian sympathy or people who specialise in blaming the system for everything when you look at their backgrounds. This combined with a smattering of people expert in sourcing and researching documents. For example what is about a person whose experience of producing Jimmy McGovern works for TV or other controversial plays that qualifies them for being on an independent panel? It looks more like it’s about their skills for telling a story. Also picking people who have a vested interest in Liverpool why would you do that and call it independent. I’m sure when picking them, the phrase “don’t sh*t where you eat” wasn’t too far away from their mind. Anything other than the findings we have would have made many them persona non grata on Merseyside.

    Then there is the fact that within the boring old terms of reference, the families were to be at the forefront. We’re already clear what their viewpoint is, so in some respects we’re also clear as to the direction the findings needed to go to meet their needs.

    I also wonder if electoral politics had a role in this. If my reading is correct, Jack Straw once as home secretary (at the height of Labour’s power) made statements to the effect of that there was no point in taking investigations any further. Oddly eneough we find him in 2010 along with Andy Burnham supporting a further independent review / enquiry. The only difference being that in 2010 the Labour Govt looked like a dead man walking and any such enquiry was likely to wash up it’s result under another govt. Lo and behold, the results come out and Straw is straight to the press with the “That bitch Thatcher” line.

    I have recently come to the conclusion that rarely are enquiries called by modern politicians to come to the true facts of the matter and more about telling a story. Part of me wonders if this is the case here.

    The families are tormented souls and certainly some hideous facts about collusion and corruption have come out in this round, but I fear they are now pawns in someone else’s game and may well have been from the outset.

  15. Well said, John. From where I’m standing it’s the not unusual mix of blame-shifting, political correctness and identity politics.

    In my opinion the ultimate cause was the behaviour of a section of the support, but it’s clearly been convenient for some to conflate these people with the real innocent victims as one homogenous mass of ‘fans’, as if any group of thousands of people could be thus characterised as beyond reproach, particularly in the context of 1980s football!

    Of course, the police opened the gate in an attempt to relieve the crushing outside the stadium, but this just exacebated things inside, and this was compounded by a series of errors which culminated in utter disaster.

    In turn the authorities tried to shift their share of the blame for the tragedy, at worst – as we now know – involving large scale distortion and fabrication.

    Anyway, for what it’s worth here’s my own blogpost on the subject, the first part of which is a brief few words on last week’s report. The second part was written a couple of years ago and viewed the tragedy in the context of my own experiences, in particular as someone involved in a mini Hillsborough-style incident in my childhood (although of course my critics are keen to point out the differences!):

    http://planet-politics.blogspot.co.uk/2012/09/more-blame-shifting-on-hillsborough.html

  16. Well said, most people I talk to dismiss the crushing force of all those fans, sober or otherwise who gained entry without a ticket. Shame that none of those had the guts to say sorry for their illegal entry to the stadium which resulted in so many untimely deaths

  17. firstly who is this so called expert writing this article? he states he saw video footage on more than one occasion of liverpool fans storming the gate? well maybe he should point it out to all people involved in the various enquiries because they obviously missed it. i mean,evidence like that would be gold dust for duckenfield and his cronies,cast iron evidence to back up their claim we stormed the gates.

    if there was a single shred of evidence that lfc fans misbehaved that day they’d have put it out to the media years ago. dont forget their were dozens of cctv cameras around hillsborough,yet not one single clip of anyone acting in such a way it would shift the blame from the police.

    as for heysel,grow up. they got justice. fans jailed,belgian police got suspended sentences,those in charge of selling neutral tickets to italians also got done.

    the italian famillies are upset with juventus for their lack of support rather than still villifying lfc fans

    • ‘if there was a single shred of evidence that lfc fans misbehaved that day they’d have put it out to the media years ago’. Bullshit. I’m sorry you’ve never seen the surge footage. I bet you never heard of the Zapruder film either.

  18. A good mate of mine who was a special (i.e. volunteer) PC on duty in the ground that day was one of the first to climb into the central pen to help the injured out of the area onto the pitch. He was also subsequently crushed as the surge continued and spent almost a week in a coma before fortunately making a full recovery. It was not the frontline services to blame for any cover up, but the political masters of the day. Some bad decisions were made under pressure by the officers in charge, but the root cause of the disaster was too many fans arriving too late at Leppings Lane. The failure to react effectively and block off the access to the stand and specific pens was a contributory element, but the force of people pushing through was the one and only cause of death that day. Fewer lives may have been lost with faster response, but nothing the emergency services could have done once the situation at the gates arose could have prevented all deaths. Those who died were clearly not to blame, however those still in the pubs with 30 minutes to kick off arriving at the ground between 2.35 and 3.00 clearly were.

  19. As someone who attended Heysel, with a ticket, we were able to walk straight into the ground and the Belgian police waved us through gates that were open wide. Our tickets were not checked. Prior to this someone knocked on our car window and when the window was lowered we were sprayed with CS gas. The behaviour of the Juventus fans and their ‘ultras’ was appalling. Does anyone recall the newspaper pictures of the gun-wielding Italian? Well said John Ward by the way. I also went to Hillsborough. Our car was stopped on the M62 on the way to Sheffield by police who were testing people for drunkenness and alcohol in their cars. This made 100s of fans late for the game and caused more panic. John Ward is right. Had there been any evidence of fans misbehaving that day, apart from what the police said in peoples’ altered statements, then the media would have been on it. Mrs Thatcher would have seen to that. You can’t make assumptions about an incident without evidence, and unless you were present. I was in Athens in 2007. The media reported that Liverpool fans had stolen tickets from other supporters, that there were riots and a lack of seating. I can say that that is bollocks. I never saw any rioting at all, and I actually had 2 seats either side of me with nobody sitting in them. All this is from the horse’s mouth of someone who was there, and has attended every LFC European Cup Final and FA Cup semifinal/final going back to 1971.

  20. My wife dare not say anything on that horrible day ,but she was pushed and shoved and continually asked for tickets ,
    Many things went wrong that day and disgusting cover ups of course the 96 that died were not to blame
    But would it really have happened if so many liverpool fans had not gone with no tickets that day and the police made those dreadful mistakes ,I wonder and those liverpool fans that went that day with no tickets and pushed their way in ,well shame on you those police shame on you and the cover up shame on you
    Rip the 96

    • It started because liveepool fans were attacked the year before blah blah blah always the victims its never your fault. The most detested race in europe scouse murdering scumpool

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