Unlawful killing


No one intended to kill football fans at the FA Cup semi-final between Liverpool and Nottingham Forest 27 years ago. In 1989 British football stadiums were inherently unsafe, many of us felt in danger at the regular crushing entering and leaving grounds.

Crowd management was considered a control issue, not a safety one. In England, fences penned spectators in to prevent pitch invasions.

Hillsborough had staged many FA Cup semi-finals, including one the previous year between the same two clubs, so no proper thought or planning went into the game. During the 80s measures to control the crowd increased, while Sheffield Wednesday, who played home games at the ground, seldom came near the stadium’s capacity. The mean the stadium was unprepared for anything out of the ordinary, and the police were completely unprepared.

Access gates were open to relieve pressure on turnstiles which were inadequate to deal with a crowd of that size – a common, but dangerous, occurrence at the time.

Control measures were such that what was once a terrace area open from one side to another had been sectioned off. Once you were in one pen the only route out was to leave the terrace via the long tunnel underneath the Leppings Lane stand that fans used to enter the terrace. The two pens at the wide end of the terrace were under-filled, while the central two were crushed.

No one entering a tunnel knew if there was crushing ahead and there was no way to segregate fans off into available pens. Anyone attempting to exit through the tunnel would have been met by a large crowd of people trying to go the opposite way.

The system was stupidly crazy by design. Any Health and Safety attention would have deemed the terrace unsafe the moment the tall fences went up to prevent overspill onto the pitch area. It was a fatal incident waiting to happen.

Once the incident was underway South Yorkshire Police failed the victims spectacularly. Officers were watching the fatal crush from yards away but were unwilling to raise the alarm. They ignored terrified pleas from fans. After evidence of fatalities first arose, they turned ambulances away, delaying treatment to casualties for a crucial period.

When the incident was over the police invoked a smear campaign against the victims. Lies were told. Newspapers bought into the conspiracy, among others. The bereaved were left on their own to defend the memory of their lost ones as inquiries bathed all in whitewash.

There will be an understandable demand for prosecutions now, but for those who died 27 years ago, and many of their loved ones, it’s all too late. I hope the survivors gain some small comfort from today’s inquest verdict of unlawful killing. The torture they went through listening to the official lies must have been unbearable.

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  1. Agree re Nottingham. Only time that I feared , regardless of my height strength and fitness ( at the time) that I was in danger of being crushed to death.



    Scary stuff. That was on the outside. Once inside that pen, I decided it was either scale it, or be crushed to death. Headlines the next day about ‘ pitch invasions’ were pathetic.

  2. Imo, way back then too too many grounds were dangerous places to get out of. I’m sure most of us who have stood on terraces will have experienced being swept off our feet as the crowd pushed and shoved to get through gates too narrow to deal with the numbers.



    Possibly the worst I experienced before a game was the 65 Cup Final. People were passing children over their heads and towards the turnstiles (I suppose they were then lifted over). Hampden was packed that day and I can’t remember leaving, as I was too euphoric. I do remember that I ran all the way from the ground to the Central Station Hotel, with many many others.



    I hope that the loved ones of the 96 now experience some kind of peace.

  3. Tony D


    Agreed. Still, with them now playing like Barca, and Pep Warburton in charge, their sense of invulnerability will have doubled.


    Can’t wait to teach them a lesson next season.





    I’m surprised Neilsen isn’t amongst the nominees.

  5. the long wait is over on

    Total respect for the families of the 96 and the determination they have shown in the face of scandalous pressure to buckle to a system that conspired to cover up its many failings.



    Justice, of a sort, at last achieved.



    Can there be anyone who attended football matches in the 70’s or 80’s who doesn’t shudder at the memory of several instances where , but for luck, it could have been any one or more of us?



    After the Hearts semi final in the centenary year I was on a steep down staircase full of bodies



    For reasons I didn’t know then don’t know there was a massive surge from behind just as people in slowed down.



    I must have gone down what felt like about twenty steps without, and I’m not exaggerating, my feet touching a single step. Had one single person gone over there would have almost certainly been fatalities.



    Genuinely terrifying moment, and not the only one.

  6. glendalystonsils on

    Manager of the year might as well be a list of one because we all know what’s going to happen. If Sevco win the Scottish cup, Celtic will have done their bit to win him the award.

  7. antipodean red on




    Sometimes you don’t even need to get as far as the surname, you know, when some have a surname for a first name.

  8. I thought that Robbie Neilsen would have been in serious contention for the award.Has done a fantastic job at Hearts,on a fraction of “The Hats”budget.

  9. Geordie Munro on




    Two cup finals and still in with a shout of promotion.



    Jft 96





    That Guardian article I posted sums it up for me.



    Unlawful killing is a strong verdict.



    I’d go as far as to say a reckless disregard to the consequences of their actions,leading to death.



    Not so long ago,that would have led to a charge of manslaughter,at least.

  11. Geordie Munro on




    He wouldn’t be my choice but I’m surprised neither him nor Neilson made the shortlist.




  12. Tony D



    You can’t deny that Warburton deserves to be nominated. The SC final achievement merits the nomination. Stubbs and Neilson should also be nominated.

  13. THETIMREAPER on 26TH APRIL 2016 1:51 PM


    Tony D




    You can’t deny that Warburton deserves to be nominated. The SC final achievement merits the nomination. Stubbs and Neilson should also be nominated.



    You winding me up?


    He won a division he was supposed to, and is in a cup final he hasent won yet, then again I forgot the petrified cup, sorrrryyyyyy.



    JFT96 R.I.P.



    As a teenager (with my pals) I well remember the unbelievable crushing before the ’65 Final.


    We were almost at the turnstiles when there was a massive surge (with one police horse attempting to control the queuing lines) – the impact crushing us against the outside wall.


    Barely able to breathe and nowhere to go – we were squeezed along the perimeter wall towards the exit gates.


    The sheer volume and pressure of the crowds surging forward thankfully bust the big exit gates open – with hundreds spilling through the gap.


    We were lucky to be swept through and landed on the grassed slopes. Unfortunately a number of fans failed to duck and were caught by the cross-spar and went to ground (trampled over by the onrushing crowd).


    Still remember to this day lying on that embankment thanking God that i was still alive as I gasped for breathe.


    Janefield Street – we chose the London Road exits.


    Nottingham – we had seats in the main stand.



    There but for the grace of God, go I (and I’m sure many others)……………….



  15. RD won the league cup, and the league last year, who was manager of the year? I’ll tell you, John Hughes, we’ve won four leagues in a row going for a fifth, you know how far you go back for a Celtic manager to win it, I think it was 2008 WGS, you don’t even have to that far for the oldco manager who won it, the cardigan, during the cheating years, don’t get me started on the manager of the year, I’d tell them to stick it up there arse if I was the CFC manager.

  16. The Red Telephone on

    A long road to justice. Respect for those who fought for it.



    Just heard rent a quote ex cop Les Gray on Radio Shortbread. Said the fans were partly at fault. Jeezo. Also said it wouldn’t have happened up here as we were good at crowd control, especially with mounted police. Yes, I remember it well.

  17. South Of Tunis on

    Plod have spent 27 years hiding the truth and misleading the public .They pumped out misinformation in order to cover their arses.Justice requires that they are now held accountable..96 people died .

  18. We were lucky at Nottingham to be in the main stand. The only discomfort we had was dying for a pee because thepolice would not allow the buses off the motorway into the service areas for about a 100 miles. No toilet in buses in them days.

  19. We were lucky at Nottingham to be in the main stand. The only discomfort we had was dying for a pee because the police would not allow the buses off the motorway into the service areas for about a 100 miles. No toilet in buses in them days.

  20. Jungle Jim Hot Smoked on



    Part of me was thinking that Warburton deserved to be at least nominated……..then I realised that, as the MSSM never tired of telling us re Ronny Deila, a Manager with far greater resources than all his team`s competitors, does not deserve any praise at all let alone an award.



  21. The Red Telephone on




    Another quick question re Taormina. Would you advise against public transport there from Messina? Cruise ship run tours, but not cheap.

  22. WEEFRATHETIM on 26TH APRIL 2016 2:12 PM



    I managed a pee the discomfort was getting it in the empty Tennent Lager can :0) :0)

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