Yes, 2 blogs tonight, given I wrote the following for my other blog on Wednesday, and in truth, as I get more UK readers here, it seemed crazy not to post it across.
Given that the only soccer team I’ve ever followed was Bradford City, who suffered a tragic fire at their stadium in 1985, I know how awful it must be for the families of those who lose people in these tragedies. When I say, follow, it pretty tenuous, as I havent barely looked at any soccer in over a decade, apart from a couple of remarkable events. One of which was Bradford making a cup final, in recent times, but anyway…
What I do remember, was that in 1989, at an FA Cup Semi Final in Sheffield (they play these things at a neutral venue), 96 Liverpool supporters sadly lost their lives, as they got crushed to death, as the police allowed excess numbers of people into the stand. I can say that safely now, because yesterday, finally, after 27 years, an inquiry decided that South Yorkshire Police were to blame for these events, and not anyone else, as they opened the gates, and thousands of people literally flooded into one small area of stands.
To know that its taken this long for justice to be done, is sad. But given that most of the reason for that has been a police cover up, only makes it more shameful. Anyway, today, the current Chief Constable of the force has been suspended from duty, probably forever, as he was due to retire at the end of this year. You may be asking why he’s going like this, when he wasnt here in 1989, I hear you say? Well, because for the last 4 years, he’s been putting up a campaign to discredit the football supporters on that day, and blame them, and not his police force, even though all signs signaled that wasnt the case. The only shame, he continues to get paid for now, an injustice, for sure.
The only blessing for those poor families, is that it is finally over, and sorted. But isnt it awful that because of the Police, trying to avoid admitting the truth about events, its taken this long? But finally…
As to the video, some might say its not an apt choice, given the nature of the lyrics. But the idea of Police, singing about losing people, just seemed loaded with irony.
RIP, those 96 unfortunate people
Yes, I know, I’m not a football fan, but its hard to overlook this awful landmark, all the same. Besides which, despite some comments here, its less controversial than the other thing I considered posting, so… Make the most of it, no idea when the next football related posting will be!
On April 15th 1989, Liverpool were playing Nottingham Forest in an FA Cup Semi Final, at Hillsborough, a football ground in Sheffield, for any readers from outside the UK. Just one thing, back in those days, stadiums were not all seater places, as they are today, back then, most people stood on what they call the terraces (I believe?). Unfortunately back then, alcoholic drinking before matches was heavier than it is today. I’m not saying the fans are sober now, but generally, if you’re too drunk now, you dont get in!
To be honest, details of exactly what happened are vague, partly because of the nature of things, partly because the South Yorkshire police forces would probably prefer not all the details to come out, as most versions of it, put them to some degree of fault as to what happened next.
Just before kick off time, the crowds rushed out of the pubs, and headed for the ground, all trying to get in before kick off. Seemingly the turnstiles couldnt cope, and the police gave instructions for the gates to be opened, and thousands flooded in. Which might have been fine, but momentum carried them into the people already standing there, and people got crushed. After 6 minutes, the game was stopped, when there were clear signs of problems, but sadly, 96 people died in the chaos that ensued. There has been previous enquiries, another is indeed going on now, but the police have always been slightly vague as to what exactly happened that day. Will we ever know the full story, somehow I doubt it, but lets hope.
All games this last weekend (closest full list of matches to the event) in the main leagues in England kicked off 7 minutes late, as a tribute to this, well justified. I just hope that nothing like this ever happens again, is all I can say.
The video, this is pre match at Liverpool, on Sunday, the best tribute I could think of
Of course for me, its not the football disaster closest to my heart. That happened just under 29 years ago, at Valley Parade, Bradford, a ground I was taken to games at a few times when younger, in the hope of making me ‘more of a man’, I guess, that boyish initiation into the rites of football. I showed some interest, and indeed went a few times on my own, but now its about 10 years since I went there. But for 2 games that I escorted Eric to, at Huddersfield, as treats, I havent been to a game in all that time, and not likely to change.
The day of the Bradford disaster was a Saturday, and I was at work in Yeovil. Someone came in with the news, knowing they were ‘my team’ (as much as any was) and someone had a radio (yes, no TV in betting shops back then!) and I was able to get details that way. 56 people died, no one I knew thankfully, but anyway…I hoped then that it was the last time I would hear news like that, sadly it wasnt.
So today, we remember those poor 96 people who died at Hillsborough, 25 years ago today.
Rest in peace.