Hillsborough – How does Duckenfield sleep ?

Trevor Hicks, a man who lost his two daughters in the Hillsborough disaster, has behaved as leader of the Hillsborough Family Support Group with a calm dignity throughout the long, hard and ultimately succesful quest for truth (justice is another thing altogether). That’s not to say however that everything he says is correct. Such is the obvious emotive nature of the Hillsborough disaster that victims families have been given carte blanche to set the agenda into reform. If for example, anybody opposes all seater stadia, as many people in Liverpool itself does, then it’s as if they’re pissing on the memory of the victims of Hillsborough. This morning, I heard Trevor Hicks, along with Liverpool supporting Daily Mirror writer Brian Reade, on the Nicky Campbell breakfast show express the opinion that “One of the very few good things that’s come out of Hillsborough is that all seater stadiums are much better family enviroments where we don’t have a bunch of thugs going around swearing at each other”. That Hicks is an eloquent and decent man who’s tirelessly chased the truth from a lying police force and an ostrich like Labour and Tory government is beyond doubt. That said, it doesn’t give him any moral or legal authority to decree that everybody’s safer now in football stadia due to them being all seater.

One thing yesterdays released report confirmed was that it wasn’t terraces per-se that caused the Hillsborough disaster. It was the decrepit turnstiles and the lethal lack of escape route along with a police incompetence that turned into police deceit and corruption. In April 2001 at the all seated Ellis Park in Johannesburg, there was a crush at a match between Orlando Pirates and Kaiser Chiefs which killed 43 people. If standing is such a dangerous thing then why is it still permitted in the lower two professional leagues in English football? Why is permitted wholesale in Rugby League and how dangerous is it to have 20/25,000 people dancing on a football pitch during the summer close season ?

Ellis Park Stadium, Johannesburg, April 11th 2001

A Chief Superintendant by the name of David Duckenfield was in charge of crowd control and crowd safety that afternoon. He obviously prioritised control over safety and it has now been established, that he ordered the exit gate to be opened on the Leppings Lane end of Hillsborough, which lead to crush in the stadium. That same gate that he ordered open, is the same gate that he informally told some goons in the media that Liverpool fans had forced open. That he’s made a catastrophic error which has cost lives can just about be tolerated. He’s human, people make mistakes in pressure situations. Every year we celebrate and commemorate soldiers killed on the warfront in both the great wars due to similar incompetence of senior military personell. What makes Duckenfield behaviour so much worse is not so much the lies and manipulation to evade culpability, that’s abhorent enough, It is the scandalous apportion of blame onto the travelling Liverpool fans in Owlerton that day. For years decent if naive people (the no smoke without fire merchants), have believed that there must have been a mass of Liverpool fans who turned up without tickets, pissed and causing chaos at the turnstiles. While I have no doubt that there were Liverpool fans there without tickets and one or two may have had a pint too many, for the Police to collectively blame travelling Liverpool fans for their own fuck ups is the most sinister thing of all. At every major football match over the past century, fans have turned up pissed and without tickets. The worst thing that’s happened to the overwhelming majority of them, is getting thrown in the back of a police van, given a few slaps by the boys in blue and maybe a court appearance if the cops were in a real bad mood. This time, 96 of them died through no fault of their own.

File:Hillsborough disaster outside.jpg

Outside Leppings Lane, April 15th 1989

Anybody who knows me knows that I am no fan of Liverpool football club but what happened at Hillsborough transcends any feelings of disdain I have for their club. There’s a whole host of things that we can take the piss out of Liverpool for, I’m sure they’d say the same about us but to laugh at the deaths of these innocents at Hillsborough takes it to another level. I’ve heard people sing songs mocking the Hillsborough disaster, I’ve never felt comfortable with but I’ve never felt compelled to challenge them on it either. I feel no guilt about that, I’m not going to waste my energy trying to educate the wilfully ignorant or stupid. You get no thanks for it (to say the least) and they don’t listen anyway. Some of my fellow reds have been happy to swallow the line the police peddled about Liverpool fans being at fault for their own dying at Hillsborough. The irony of that is some of the lads who’ve had that hook, line and sinker generally have a very flexible interpretation of the law in their everyday lives. When the cap fits…

13 thoughts on “Hillsborough – How does Duckenfield sleep ?”

  1. Murph,

    Well said sir, and given your views on the club concerned I applaud your sense of perspective.

    Was discussing this whole issue not an hour ago with an Everton supporting mate of ours. I never missed a domestic match home and away at this time (in Scotland) but there too fans were treated with complete contempt. Grounds were death traps, aggressive policing (stewarding wasn’t really an issue) then caused a lot more aggro than it prevented.

    Looking back now I was in several scary situations, being swept along with a crowd, literally lifted off my feet, while trying to avoid the batons of the “Cossacks” on their police horses indiscriminately lashing out at the “scum” – us, working class football fans.

    Liverpool fans were unlucky that it happened to them that day, it could have happened to loads of us, no doubt, around that period. They have the truth now, but not justice, hopefully that will follow.

    Fair play to you my friend.

    Cheers for now,

    1. What everybody seems to forget, certainly in England is the Ibrox disaster from the new year auld firm game of 1971 when 66 Rangers fans died in a crush following a last minute equaliser. To be fair to the “Cossacks” in this instance, I’m not sure what they could have done to prevent it, but it really could happened to anybody with a big support.

  2. Magnificent piece, brilliantly reasoned & beautifully spelled out. Well done Murph.

    There’s one more important observation too – who’s the only other team (realistically) that could’ve been caught up in this?

    Something that’s always lost on the same mongs who choose to sing the extra verse of In Your Liverpool slums etc…

    1. We’ve all been caught up in crushes, I remember Porto in ’97 when a good 5,000 reds turned up outside the ground pissed out our heads and there was a problem with the barcodes on the tickets. Anybody who’s memory wasn’t too distorted by Superbok will remember the chaos that was exacerbated by a hysterical local police, how nobody got killed that night is a miracle. The same happened at the San Siro in March 1999 when United were playing Inter Milan, they had three turnstiles to accomodate 8/10,000 travelling fans. There’s a whole catalogue of incidents that we’ll have both seen on the road watching United, I look at the Hillsborough disaster and think there for the grace of God… Any United fan who thinks that an incident like that couldn’t have happened to us is more deluded and ignorant than ANY City fan I’ve ever come across

  3. I don’t agree with all you said about standing, I can never trust the safety of a standing area again.
    The disgusting slurs against the dead must stop.
    Munich and Hillsborough chants always have been and are unacceptable.
    We have a chance at the next game at Anfield
    Support our teams, sing and chant have the craic going
    I have been watching the games for years. Great games great atmosphere at both grounds
    LFC and Man Utd supporters move forward

    1. That’s fair enough if you disagree with my view on standing, anybody who doesn’t want standing at matches should be in seats and anybody who wants to stand should be on a terrace. The blaming of terraces for the Hillsborough disaster was a convenient cop out for the authorities, as much as blaming the Liverpool fans was too and which has now been shown up for the bullshit I always believed it to be. What we’ve got now at nearly all matches are people stood up in seated areas meaning people who actually want to sit down, I.E me, now have to stand up to watch matches. With a competent police force (not too much to ask for) and not overcrowding of a terrace, there’s no reason why people can’t stand on a terrace at a football match

  4. There are lots of Liverpool fans who would like to see the return of ” safe” terracing which should be possible in this day and age. As for the chanting, both teams have a healthy, competitive, partisan dislike of each other, but some of it, from both sets of supporters, leaves a bad taste. Mocking the dead reflects badly on both clubs and with YouTube and twitter is beamed worldwide instantly for all to see and shows us all in a bad light because like Hillsborough, as football supporters we are all tarred with the same brush.

    Hillsborough could have been any club that day. We all remember how the police used to treat fans back then. Likewise your comment about ticketless and drunk supporters remains true today. There are always and will always be some that turn up at the match.

  5. Great piece Murph and some highly intelligent and thought provoking replies. I can only echo the above comments and as a travelling United fan of the late 80’s and early 90’s I can add a couple more incidents where, looking back, we were fortunate to “escape unscathed”. Montpellier away when those violent doc marten wearing thugs (the French police!!) were spraying tear gas for fun. And the FA cup tie at Highbury when 18,000 reds were charged by the old bill at the final whistle ~ we were just looking for the ball from McClair’s pen!
    Total 100% sympathy goes out to the victims and their friends and families ~ it could have been ANY of us. Look up a clip I spotted on you tube this week ~ FA CUP Semi Hillsborough April 1981, Spurs v Wolves ~ and you’ll find yourself asking “Why oh why were lessons not learnt ?”

    To all fans going to Anfield on Sunday I have this message ~ support your team, shout loud and proud and enjoy, as I did back then, a fantastic atmosphere. Put the sick chants to bed ~ enjoy and be safe.

    Paul Ford

  6. As an LFC fan, I have to agree with sentiments of the article. I’m not sure about the standing issue, I still believe seated stadiums are safer but agree that the authorities used them as a way to deflect attention to their failings. There were particular issues with that ground and Leppings Lane specifically which to mind, make both the FA and Sheffield Wednesday culpable as well as the SYP. Nothing short of charges of corporate manslaughter for all 3 would be justice.
    Looking forward to the game and believe both sets of supporters will prove the cynics wrong. #jft96

  7. As a Liverpool fan I would like to commend your article. one point I’d like to raise is not many united fans seem to know of there own crush at Leppings Lane in 57 I think, have you heard/remembered it?

    1. No I haven’t. having seen some news reel of matches and football crowds from that era, it wouldn’t surprise me at all. The probable reason I haven’t heard of it is due to the fact there were no fatalities. I can’t even ask my old man about it as he would’ve been ten years old at the time and obviously too young to be going to away matches. I will look into it. Cheers

  8. Thanks guys and thanks for the link I’d heard of through Peter Hooton of The Farm he must have tweeted it, just wish every united fan could see it especially the ones who sing the sick songs/ignorant to the truth and believe the lies Munich RIP Hillsborough RIP

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