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No justice for the 96

Posted on September 13, 2012 by RevStu

I wish I didn't have to write what I'm about to write. There's no possible benefit to it for me. All it will bring me is hatred, abuse and threats, some from people whose feelings I care about. It won't make any difference to anything, because only a handful of people will ever read it and most of those who do will be outraged by it. But I have to do it anyway. I'm trapped – trapped by conscience, trapped by sanity, and trapped by the words of the smartest, most perceptive writer who ever lived.

"Journalism is printing what someone else does not want printed: everything else is public relations." (George Orwell)

On the 15th of April 1989, ninety-six people went to a football match and didn't come home. They died in hideous scenes which were broadcast to the world and splashed across newspaper front pages, and they died as a result of a catastrophic combination of circumstances, which had any one of them not been present would have averted the disaster. Yet of all those factors, there's one that nobody is allowed to talk about, despite the fact that it's the one that actually killed every single victim.

Damn everyone whose cowardice means that the burden of saying so has landed on someone as stupid, inappropriate and hopelessly ill-equipped for the task as me.

Warning: the following piece contains distressing images.

I haven't seen the death certificates of the 96 victims of Hillsborough. But I'm going to make an assertion anyway, without fear of contradiction – not a single one of them lists the cause of death as "incompetence" or "inexperience". The vast majority died of asphyxiation, crushed to death by the weight of hundreds of bodies pressing them against unyielding steel fences or the concrete steps of the terracing.

Yet despite 23 years of investigations, reports and analysis, the most blindingly obvious fact is never spoken. The pressure that caused that crush didn't come out of nowhere. It wasn't an act of God, it wasn't a freak gravity storm. It came from behind them, and every ounce of it came from human beings. Specifically, it came from Liverpool fans.

The scene outside Leppings Lane just before the gates were opened.

Almost every organisation or group involved at Hillsborough made a contribution to the deadly events that played out on that day. The FA inexplicably allocated the Leppings Lane end to the Liverpool fans, giving the far larger Kop stand at the opposite side to the less-numerous supporters of Nottingham Forest, despite the Leppings Lane end having suffered repeatedly from overcrowding issues in previous years.

(See chapter 1, pages 6-7, of the Hillsborough Independent Panel report for details.)

Sheffield Wednesday FC, despite making some modifications in the wake of previous events, had failed to take any effective action with regard to either the West terracing's capacity or logistics which would have avoided such issues. That lack of action was compounded on the day by inadequate policing and stewarding which failed to note the dangerous situation developing in the central pens and divert fans away to the side pens where there was more room.

(Although according to this report in the Liverpool Echo, the fences inside all the terracing pens separating them from each other were locked in the "open" position, allowing fans to move between the pens.)

I'd previously thought the pens were sealed off from each other, but it appears this wasn't the case.

A police commander with no experience in similar events was paralysed by indecision at vital moments. Officers on the pitch failed to grasp the gravity of the situation until it was too late, believing it to be a public-order issue rather than a public-safety one. As the disaster unfolded, ambulances which could have saved many of the victims were prevented by the police from coming to their aid for the same reason. Liverpool goalkeeper Bruce Grobbelaar saw what was happening and pointed it out, but initially played on rather than bringing the game to a stop.

But none of these failings caused a single death. Neither the FA, Sheffield Wednesday, the police commanders, the officers on duty, the players on the pitch or the ambulance crews exerted the fatal pressure on the back of the crowd, which built and built until crash barriers gave way and the mass of bodies in the central pens forced the air from the lungs of the unfortunate people at the front. The only people who exerted that force were Liverpool supporters.

I've been in hundreds of crowds. At football matches, at gigs, at Edinburgh's early Hogmanay celebrations where half a million crammed onto a few streets of the city (before the overcrowding led to tight ticketing controls) and at the infamous first Future Entertainment Show at Earls Court, where queues to get in wrapped all the way round the vast arena and I'm still amazed that nobody was seriously injured in a narrow tunnel between two areas of the exhibition.

The most frightening were the rock concerts, mostly at Glasgow Barrowlands. In the days of terracing in football stadia I always headed for the back of the ground anyway because I preferred a higher viewpoint, though partly also out of fear of crushes. But Barrowlands – which holds roughly the same amount of people as the Leppings Lane pens – was scary. The excited throng would edge forwards looking for a better viewing-point, and if you'd made the mistake of heading for the moshpit you could find yourself pressed alarmingly tightly against the chest-high barriers between the floor and stage.

For most bands the crowds were calm enough and the squeeze never menacing, but on "special" occasions, like the Pogues' Christmas-Eve show with Joe Strummer, things could get rowdy. Before the band had even taken the stage that night the pressure at the front was intense, and as a not-very-tall figure with a slight eight-stone frame I was clearly going to be in trouble if anything went wrong.

So I started jabbing my elbows and heels behind me, and worked my way back through the crowd to a safer spot near the sides. People swear and bat at you angrily, but you get there, partly because their natural reaction to your jabbing is to leap backwards and that ripples through the people behind them until there's enough space to wriggle through. I watched the show in safety and sturdier people than I filled the space at the front, and everyone had a super time.

Now before anyone starts shouting, let's be clear: for the people at the front of Leppings Lane, it was far too late for that. By the time the magnitude of their predicament became clear, there wasn't a hope of them being able to move. They, alone, played no part in their fate. So let's wind the timeline back a few minutes.

While the central pen was already dangerously full, the deadly tipping point was the introduction of hundreds more fans when the police opened an exit gate to let more people into the ground, in fear (ironically) that the chaotic scenes at the inadequate number of turnstiles were going to lead to deaths from crushing. And it's in the space between the turnstiles and the terraces that the disaster really happened.

Low resolution but gives an overall view.

The only terracing entrance visible to fans coming through Gate C is the tunnel to the central pen.

The area between the opened Gate C, (the blue gate furthest to the right on the picture above), and the tunnel itself (which leads to the central pens) is a large space – more than sufficient to safely relieve the immediate pressure on the turnstiles. The problem arose at the bottleneck of the tunnel entrance, and that was the place where Liverpool supporters sealed the fate of their comrades.

I don't know about you, readers, but if I walk into the Post Office or the cinema and there's a queue, what I tend to do is walk up to the person at the end of the queue and then stop, rather than charging bodily into them in an attempt to make the queue move faster. As a rule, I assume there's a reason nobody's moving, and that whatever it is isn't going to be helped by me ramming it. It doesn't seem like rocket science.

But for some reason, once a crowd reaches a certain size people seem to assume that the normal rules of civilised behaviour they observe elsewhere in life no longer apply. Responsibility for individual action is abdicated to the mob – a notoriously stupid, reckless and dangerous entity. Whenever you attempt to engage in debate about Hillsborough, the argument always comes down to the fact that apparently there's nothing you can do about the fact that there will be pushing, and that it's entirely the responsibility of the police to deal with the consequences.

But there is no such thing as a hive mind. Everyone in a crowd who is pushing into a solid wall of bodies in front of them, exerting pressure in the full rational knowledge that there's a reason it isn't moving, is an individual human being with a brain of their own. At Hillsborough, everyone pushing their way into the tunnel knew perfectly well that it opened into an enclosed area, hemmed in by overhanging steel fences, which minutes before kick-off was likely to already be crammed with people, and which took the inherently-hazardous form of a stairway.

The tunnel is quite wide, but slopes slightly downwards. You can see in the picture the fence that actually split the central pen into two.

But they pushed anyway, in the apparent belief that the laws of physics didn't apply to football grounds and they could magically create space from nowhere if only they pushed hard enough. And space was indeed created, from the only place it possibly could be – the rib cages of the people already on the terracing.

This simple, empirical law of nature is the great unspeakable truth about Hillsborough, the only contributing factor to the tragedy that can never be spoken aloud despite being the most important one. It's true that if the FA had allocated the Kop end to Liverpool, the disaster probably wouldn't have happened. It's true that if stewards had been in place behind Gate C directing fans to the emptier side pens, the disaster probably wouldn't have happened. It's true that if officers on the pitch had realised what was happening sooner and opened the fences, the disaster probably wouldn't have happened, or at least would have been greatly reduced. It's true that if ambulances hadn't been blocked from entering the stadium, dozens of lives might have been saved.

But none of those things were the cause of death of the 96 victims. They died from the application of physical force behind them, and no matter how much you try to skirt around the issue, the ultimately inescapable fact is that every last ounce of that pressure came from Liverpool fans. The unending, maudlin obsession of the club's fans with Hillsborough for the last 23 years has its root not in anger, but in guilt.

None of this is to say that the campaign which eventually led to the Hillsborough Independent Panel report wasn't necessary. The police cover-up which followed the disaster is beyond a shadow of a doubt one of the most appalling, shameful disgraces of British history. There's no shortage of coverage of that, though, so we'll leave the rest of the world to discuss and digest it with the horror it fully merits.

The true crime of the police is that their despicable, scarcely-believable attempts to disguise their own calamitous failings have allowed attention to be diverted away from those who actually slaughtered the poor doomed souls at the front of the Leppings Lane central pen – the irresponsible, reckless cretins who pushed into a solid wall of bodies even as agonised screams cut the air in front of them.

(And indeed, whose actions helped create the circumstances which caused the victims to be trapped in the first place. Hillsborough could have happened at almost any ground in the country in the late 1980s, but Liverpool's fans must shoulder a disproportionate share of the blame for the existence of the fateful fences, which in part arose from their murderous actions at Heysel Stadium four years earlier.)

The police's mendacious attempts to blame the fans for being drunk, late or ticketless were red herrings. The reality is much simpler, and required no lying – the fans were to blame because they, alone, were the ones who pushed and thereby caused the crush.

No matter how many vindictive, pointless prosecutions – of people who ultimately found themselves placed in a position with which they were unable to cope, and will have to live with the consequences of their failures forever – may eventually result from the HIP report, those who directly caused the deaths will never face a court or a jury of their peers, and indeed will be allowed to piously assert their moral outrage at those who were merely unable to rescue the innocent from their lethal stupidity.

Until they do, and until the individuals who make up every crowd take responsibility for their own actions, there will be no justice for the 96.

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73 to “No justice for the 96”

  1. LiMy says:

    Jesus fucking wept. For someone to have always championed a self-righteous ideal of being above the system, you've always had an unhealthy obsession with the Capitalist trappings of football and, quite evidently, have totally succumb to the 20+ years of unwanted stereotyping that made us look bad to everyone else. It's not everyone else, it's only you who gets so upset that English fans are nice to the Scottish team, or when others take pity on your club for not doing so well.
    It's the 21st century, and football is still only a game, but you still have to take everything like a personal stab because it didn't *quite* go your way. Well, it did for the last 23 years, but now the grand narrative has been proven bunk, and your ideological cohorts in Kelvin MacKenzie, Boris Johnson and Jeremy Hunt have been shown up for the shower of shits that they are. Aside from the fact that they didn't print their remarks on the day after such a ruling, as your foam and seethe at the screen about why Liverpool fans are somehow exclusively worse than everyone else. Maybe we've all secret got magical powers, or maybe it's Ringo Starr, or who the fuck knows any more what it is you're so fucking jealous of.
    You've grown into the thing you used to hate, and there's nowhere else to go but a petty liberal righty blog that has been reduced to fishing for hits based upon hatred. Well done.

  2. RevStu says:

    You’ve lost me. Which sentence/s did you disagree with?

  3. Steve Smith says:

    Some Liverpool fans could give a Muslim extremist a run for their money in the "How dare you disagree with me???" competition.

  4. Peter St. John says:

    The core of your argument is here:
    But for some reason, once a crowd reaches a certain size people seem to assume that the normal rules of civilised behaviour they observe elsewhere in life no longer apply. Responsibility for individual action is abdicated to the mob – a notoriously stupid, reckless and dangerous entity.
    The problem with that is that most research seems to suggest that once you go over a certain density in a crowd situation, from events from the Hajj to the Love Parade and other crush events, rationality breaks down and a form of hysteria takes control. Given that, it seems difficult to blame the fans – rather the blame should rest on those who created the density – i.e. the police and stadium officials.

  5. RevStu says:

    “most research seems to suggest that once you go over a certain density in a crowd situation, from events from the Hajj to the Love Parade and other crush events, rationality breaks down and a form of hysteria takes control.”

    Which is precisely why individuals need to take responsibility for their actions. Crowds don’t go from “fine” to “irretrievable fatal crush” in an instant. It happens gradually, and at every point along that line people can stop it if they act rationally.

  6. Ninpo says:

    I'm not a scouser.  My club allegiance even dictates I should hate all Liverpool fans.  However the fact you can't even begin to grasp what happened that day and who was responsible is reprehensible when you post it at "journalism".
    Journalism isn't just writing any old shit that people don't like.  It's supposed to be about reporting on the facts, which may or may not please the readers.  There's very little truth in your article.  How do you not comprehend the physics involved in police shuttling thousands of fans into an area already at capacity?  How are the fans filtering into the tunnel, not yet at the terrace area where people began to die, even supposed to be aware of what's going on?  Have you ever been to a football ground?  Please explain how, at the turnstiles, you're supposed to have any clue about what's happening inside the stadium itself.
    Here's a hint: you're not.  Do you know who is?  Police and stewards, equipped with radios.  They're the ones that are culpable for creating the situation, not fans who went where they were directed.
    Have you even read the report?  How can you put a straight face on an article like this if you have?
    I could have summed you and your article up in far fewer words, but to do so would be stooping to the same level of hateful vitriol you've managed to display in what amounts to Thatcheresque anti football sentiment.
    You're a disgrace to the word journalism sir.

  7. RevStu says:

    “Please explain how, at the turnstiles, you’re supposed to have any clue about what’s happening inside the stadium itself.”

    You’re not. That’s why you don’t fucking push.

  8. LiMy says:

    So what happens when the person behind you starts pushing? Or the one behind that person who has been pushing them? Or behind that one, and another, and another, and another, and so on and so forth – you do what exactly? Hold your hand up like the fictional Libertarian ubermensh and shout, "No more!"?

  9. RevStu says:

    You turn round and you tell them to fuck off if they don't want their teeth rearranged. If you can't turn round, you push back as hard as you can, shouting "STOP PUSHING YOU STUPID FUCKING PRICK". You kick them with your heels. You don't just fucking join in.

    If pushing ripples forwards, it can ripple back. Indeed, it can ripple back much more easily, because by definition it's pushing back into where there's space, rather than where there isn't. It works, and I know it works because I’ve done it countless times in crushes where I was absolutely shitting myself with fear. You might get sworn at, but I’d rather get sworn at than crushed to death. But someone has to take responsibility, rather than just doing what everyone else is doing.

    I covered all this in the post, in the bit about Barrowlands. I'm getting too old to argue with people who haven't undertaken the basic courtesy of reading what I wrote before screaming about it.

  10. Tetsuo says:

    Stu, I like you. Your videogame critiques and reviews always hit the mark. I've even observed you slay hordes of imbecilic fanboys and come out on top in the name of reason and truth. But this article, posted (by a closet United fan, of all things) less than a day after the Hillsborough Independent Panel report conclusively exonerated Liverpool fans of any blame in the disaster sets a new standard of self-righteous trolling that I don't think I've seen before.

    Most of all, I can't for the life of me understand what searingly powerful point you actually think you're making? It's like writing an article on 9/11 and stating that it was the bricks and mortar killed over 3000 people. Anyone can start a pissing contest, Stu.

    The fact is it doesn't matter whether you overfilled those pens with; men, women, children, babies, or bloody farmyard chickens. The outcome would be the same. Peddling your agenda that all the fans ('Liverpool fans', you repeatedly refer to them as, right?) were rowdy, idiotic simpletons who couldn't for-christs-sake keep in a patient line, you're simply notching yourself closer to cunts like Kelvin Mackenzie (that's reserved for Kev, not you, to be clear), who perpetrated disgusting lies and slander on innocent people, many of whom were in fact heroes that day.

    The unending, maudlin obsession of the club's fans with Hillsborough for the last 23 years has its root not in anger, but in guilt."

    Yeah, this was the clincher for me. I am confused where this wishful-thinking is coming from, but unfortunately for you it's not hard to observe there is not a single fact in that conclusion, just bullshit.

  11. jerry says:

    The people pushing (and there MUST have been some of them) have got to a least take a portion of the blame.

  12. Tearlach says:

    Stu – Elias Canetti’s “Crowds and Power” is worth a read – though it is primarily focused how dictators use crowds for their own end, think Stalin, Mussolini, it is a fasinating read when dealing with the dynamics of crowds and “packs”.

  13. RevStu says:

    “Peddling your agenda that all the fans (‘Liverpool fans’, you repeatedly refer to them as, right?) were rowdy, idiotic simpletons who couldn’t for-christs-sake keep in a patient line”

    Sigh. Show me where I used, or implied, the word “all”. A dozen would probably have been enough.

    “Most of all, I can’t for the life of me understand what searingly powerful point you actually think you’re making?”

    That anyone who pushes in a crowd is a dickhead. It wasn’t exactly coded.

  14. Juteman says:

    You're a brave man, Stu.
    I can see where you are coming from, but i can't agree.

  15. Prophet_Peden says:

    You said on the other site
    "Your attempts to link my entirely personal views on Hillsborough with the independence campaign are despicable."
    Hardly entriely separate given your Twitter account links to your campaign website and links to independence stories.. Disingenuous sophistry strike one.
    You don't even appear to know what despicable means. I was implying, nae stating, that anyone with such repugnantly inhumane views taints everything else they have to say whether there's truth in it or not.
    Logistically or semantically or argumentatively, that might not be technically right, but in terms of being a feeling spiritual  human being it's bang on.
    Crowds become amorphous almost moronic beings in their own right where the individual almost disappears. That's why there's a phenomenon known as Crowd Psychology. It's also why crowds need to be controlled. And that's why when the control goes wrong it is the controllers who take the blame.
    You've plainly never been in the type of crush where you can feel your lungs get the breath pushed out of them.
    I have once. Kicking and threatening to punch teeth out doesn't cut it. I couldn't bloody move and my feet were barely touching the ground.
    I've avoided large crowds ever since because of it. The sense of no control and panic overcomes any sense of rational thought other than survival instinct.
    For you to suggest that the people who died could somehow have saved themselves or that it was the people behind  still pushing who were culpable is monstrous and hateful beyond belief.
    The world you live in is sterile and bereft of humanity. Go fuck yourself with a wire brush. I don't think it would make a difference though, you'd need a nervous system to feel it.
    And, like I said on your other site, I dare you stand up in a church in Liverpool and utter a fraction of what you've said here.
    Cowardly monstrous loser bastard.

  16. RevStu says:

    Thanks for your contribution. I’d point out some of the more glaring errors and outright lies, but I have somewhere to be in 2017.

  17. maroonfever says:

    Perfectly valid and fair points made in this article,  although they are a difficult pill to swallow and will upset many. Reading the comments, I don't see many coming from any rational perspective, they're all just a hate-fest of pent up irrationality and barely worth commenting on.
    I remember the comedian Bill Maher being sacked from CBS after 9/11 because in the days that followed that event, he said that the hijackers were not cowards – that it took a degree of bravery to actually physically carry out those attacks knowing that you were going to end your own life. That always seemed like a reasonable comment to make in my opinion, but of course in the days following that tragedy to say such a thing on home turf was always going to land him in hot water.
    I think this article is getting the same reaction. I have always been of the opinion that Liverpool fans have to shoulder some of the blame, though they were made scapegoats off by Thatcher, her government and police force plus The Sun.

  18. Why crowds can turn deadly says:
    The Love Parade followed a series of high-profile deadly crowd disasters over the past several decades, from soccer stadiums in England to rock concerts in the U.S. This catastrophe, however, was widely documented by the public on social media (and, amazingly, has its own YouTube channel).
    The Love Parade suffered from familiar missteps: walkie-talkies and speaker systems didn’t work, event organizers and police miscommunicated, the logistics of the festival itself were poorly planned relative to the size of the crowd that eventually turned up. But all of these cascading effects culminated in a phenomenon best described by physics: "crowd turbulence."
    A crowd of people trying to get into such an event will queue up until they've moved closer and closer together, creating particularly tight compression at the front of the queue. As a crowd grows denser, people wind up accidentally touching one another – and this happens even without overt pushing or shoving.
    "As the density increases even further, the forces would be transmitted from one body to the next, and this is the moment where forces start to add up," Helbing says. "That causes these turbulent waves in the crowd."

  19. RevStu says:

    That’s the Love Parade, then, at which 750,000 more people turned up than was planned for. What about Hillsborough, which was an all-ticket event with a fixed attendance?

  20. RevStu says:

    Oh, but this:

    "For you to suggest that the people who died could somehow have saved themselves… is monstrous and hateful beyond belief."

    What I actually wrote:

    "Now before anyone starts shouting, let's be clear about something. For the people at the front of Leppings Lane, it was far too late for that. By the time the magnitude of their predicament became clear, there wasn't a hope of them being able to move."

    Now fuck off, you imbecile.

  21. Peter St. John says:

    Come on Stu, it's about crowd density, not total numbers. And it doesn't matter, according to your argument – the crowd at Love Parade were just as much to blame as the Liverpool fans, yes?

  22. Why crowds can turn deadly says:

    The article groups Love Parade with Hillsborough and other crushes. There were too many people for the space. Organisational failures set up the situation, crowd physics, not individuals killed the victims.

  23. RevStu says:

    I don't claim to know anything about Love Parade except that it was massively oversubscribed. There were not four times as many people at Hillsborough as there should have been, in ANY part of the ground.

  24. Redundant says:

    You reference crushes where you were scared things might go wrong, the issue is that they never did so you have no experience in the actual situation that occurred that day, none at all. Everyone has been involved in a bit of a crush that's uncomfortable but if you can elbow and kick backwards it's not a particularly dangerous crush.

    Plus, the social etiquette that causes a queue to form is the same social etiquette that causes people to try and keep that same queue moving. That constant, slight edging forward causes far more pressure further forward where the bottleneck tightens. If you've ever tried to get into a stadium the entire thing is "slow steady progress", if you're making that, aren't in a crush yourself, aren't pushing or shoving and have no idea that at the front a disaster is occurring how would you know that you need to stop? There was no wild pushing or shoving, just the regular slow forward encroachment that happens at every event, without knowledge of what was occurring at the front the people towards the back had no reason to suspect anything bad was happening.

  25. Kinelref says:

    I found breathing space under a policeman's horse outside the ground that day, it was a relief when the gate was opened and the pressure outside was relieved, no one pushed, after having been what we now know as "kettled" by police into a quadrant outside, everybody now merely moved with the flow of fans through the tunnel and into the pens. Your interpretation of events is uninformed, misguided and erroneous.  You would be well served  to limit yourself to commenting on matters that you have knowledge of and to leave alone those for which you are but a cipher.

  26. Grant says:

    When my information changes, I alter my conclusions. What do you do, sir? 
    (John Maynard Keynes)
    I learnt a lot of information about Hillsborough yesterday that was new to me. I also anticipated a post by you Stu. I was hoping it would may have led you to change your oft-loudly-stated opinion based on a careful reading of the new information presented – I'm an optimist – but I would have settled for you not saying anything – which of course was unlikely.
    The new information to me, that I believe is pertinent to this discussion, is that until yesterday I did not know that the Leppings Lane tunnel had a slope. Quite a slope in fact – a 1 in 6 gradient. According to the report "The gradient of the tunnel under the West Stand leading down onto the terrace also significantly breached the Green Guide's (Guide to Safety at Sports Grounds 1976) recommendation."
    This changes everything in your argument. You base your argument on physics (or your tweets early yesterday did before the report came out, which is forgivable) , but the physics of a slope are quite different than a flat ground when it comes to a crowd. I'm sure hundreds of people in that tunnel were shouting to people at the back to stop pushing, and everyone was trying to push back but the slope would have prevented this, and indeed if you were approaching the slope from the back at the usual dense-crowd-slow-pace you wouldn't have any clue that you were loading the top of a many thousand person pile until exactly the moment it was too late.
    So my information has changed, and so has my conclusions. How about you?
    One other point – bringing up Heysel to say that "Liverpool fans should shoulder a disproportionate blame" for the fences is again missing the point in a spectacular, but offensive way. If anything this report has taught us is that design and operation of this stadium was wrong and not fit for purpose. If we're going to blame a set of fans (and I'm not because we either blame all fans or just indviduals) then how about Manchester United fans? According to Wikipedia "Two main events in 1973 led to introduction of crowd segregation and fencing at football grounds in England. Manchester United were relegated to the Second Division, the Red Army caused mayhem at grounds up and down the country, and a Bolton Wanderers fan stabbed a young Blackpool fan to death behind the Kop at Bloomfield Road during a Second Division match."

  27. Prophet_Peden says:

    "Now fuck off, you imbecile."
     Come down to my bit, or a church in Liverpool, and say that to my face cupboard boy. I'll bet you your train fare you wouldn't dare.
    I'd be more than happy to meet and repeat what I've previously said to you on Twitter, here or the other site. Could you say the same? No, guys like you are out and out gutless. Fucking cowardly cupboard boy loser.
    And hey, I didn't read your shitty emotionless self justifiying ego driven tirade. I skimmed it. I was referring to the comment where you said anyone who pushes in a crowd is a dickhead. All people in a crowd push. Crowds are full of dickheads and normal people and with a crowd the term is mostly interchangable..
    Just lke the Loveparade commenterr said, the pressure builds up.
    Which is precisely why individuals need to take responsibility for their actions. Crowds don’t go from “fine” to “irretrievable fatal crush” in an instant. It happens gradually, and at every point along that line people can stop it if they act rationally
    The people required to act rationally in that instance were the police marshalling the crowd and funnelling them into the crush pens. By the time you're getting uncomfortable with the crowd situation it's too late, it's only those on the periphery who can lessen the pressure by dispersing.
    You really are some kind off thick to think that people making their way in to the game would say, "Oh hold on a minute, I'm turning back, this isn't safe. I'll now make a rational decision to take myself out of this potentially dangerous situation. Uh uh. You're trapped and the folk at the back don't realise and keep trying to make their way in. And the pressure builds up.
    And here you prove the fucking IMBECILE you are. The crowd was being funnelled in by the police. The people at the back had no idea that they were contributing to a death crush. If they had it would have stopped. No one told them different and they're not mind readers..
    I don't know why you appear to hate people so much. Misplaced superiority complex no doubt. Somebody stated that it might be because of your football allegiance,  whatever it is, you're one despicably hateful indiividual.
    You're up there with MacKenzie, Johnson and Thatcher for inhumanity. Not so well done cupboard boy.
    Now you fuck off you moronic emotionally retarded fuckwit

  28. Juteman says:

    I'm not trying to defend Stu here, because i think he is wrong. But folk should  read what he has actually said.
    Reading his blog for a while, any normal person couldn't think he was a Kelvin McKenzie. I'm hoping that what we are seeing  here is 'a failure to communicate', when the written word doesn't do justice to the intent.

  29. RevStu says:

    I don’t see the relevance of Man Utd fans in 1973 to the introduction of perimeter fencing after Heysel. Segregation fencing round the side of terracing isn’t a problem, the issue was with fences preventing escape onto the pitch, which as far as I know weren’t introduced until the mid- to late-80s. Correct me if that’s wrong.

    With regard to the sloping tunnel, that’s clearly a contributing and dangerous factor. But again, it’s just even more reason to have respect for your fellow fans and be careful when going down it. It had been there for years without a disaster, including with big crowds in identical circumstances, so what was different at the semi-final?

    And with the greatest of respect to Redundant and Kinelref, being there doesn’t mean you can say that there was no pushing, somewhere behind you or in front of you or to the side of you. Elsewhere today I’ve been ranted at at great length about how when you’re in a crowd you can’t tell what’s going on six feet away (with that being given as an excuse for acting like a dick). People don’t voluntarily ram themselves up against a fence or a crash barrier with so much pressure that it collapses or their lungs get crushed, nor do they allow that to happen slowly without kicking up a very big fuss. Somewhere or other along the line, someone’s exerted that force on you, and all waves of force since the Big Bang have a starting point.

  30. RevStu says:

    ” Come down to my bit, or a church in Liverpool, and say that to my face cupboard boy. I’ll bet you your train fare you wouldn’t dare.”

    I wonder if you have any idea just how much that undermines the point you’re trying to make. “Disagree with me and I’ll beat you up!” really doesn’t do a lot to create the impression of fans being calm, sensible, orderly spectators brutally murdered by the police. Luckily, I’m not so prejudiced as to tar an entire group of people with the brush of one arsehole.

    “And hey, I didn’t read your shitty emotionless self justifiying ego driven tirade.”

    Then get to fuck. You’re banned.

  31. Grant says:

    I'll answer your point about crowds in another post, but on fencing, my recollections were that fences were in place everywhere in the late 70s. I just did a bit of googling, and (you're probably not going to like this) fences like Hillsborough were put up at Wembley in 1977 in response to…the Scottish pitch invasion
    Here's the actual article from 1977, which also quotes the Green Guide I referenced earlier:,1182388

  32. RevStu says:

    Interesting. I found this shot of the England-Italy game in 1977 referenced in that article, but it's a bit inconclusive. There are SOME fences, but nothing like the forbidding total enclosure of Hillsborough:×259/Ray-Wilkins-England-v-Italy-Wembley-1977_2785178.jpg

  33. Davey Boy says:

    Am I reading this blog correctly? The fans were to blame?

  34. Jay says:

    "It had been there for years without a disaster, including with big crowds in identical circumstances, so what was different at the semi-final?"
    If you're going to make a comparison then at least try and make sure that the conditions are remotely similar. It was pretty clear even from the Taylor Report that police made decisions on the day that were not normal protocol. Hardly "identical" considering these decisions directly contributed to the deaths of 96 people.
    Mind you, there's little point in even trying to reason with someone who has described Liverpool fans as "Misery-hunting fucking ghouls, the lot of them". I think it's pretty obvious how neutral this article is in regards to the events at Hillsborough.
    The saddest part is that the crux of your argument comes down to poor anecdotal evidence about how you've dealt with big crowds at gigs. Embarrassing. I'm sure if everyone had your courage and insight this would never have happened.

  35. Sam Seaborn says:

    There's a brilliant bit in Nick Hornby's 'Fever Pitch' – a book full of brilliant bits – in which he describes the experience, familiar to anyone who attended football in the 80s, of a crush outside Highbury. ('Part Of The Game', Arsenal v Southampton, 19.8.80.) He notes, however, that despite at one point struggling for breath as he approached the turnstiles, he was never actually worried that anything would happen to him: there was, of course, a system which prevented accidents, and he trusted it; they were only feet away from unconcerned police officers. It was only after Hillsborough that he realised there had never been a system, and that on occasions like the Southampton game and others the authorities had essentially been riding their luck. (I hope that this is an accurate paraphrase.)
    I used to attend football in the 80s – at Celtic Park, not that it matters – and I can think of occasions when the crushing outside and inside the ground was such that I was in discomfort. But I knew that there was a plan, and I trusted the plan. I believed that nothing would actually happen to me. I suspect that the Liverpool fans did too.

  36. Peter says:

    Stu you are entirely right. 
    Yes clearly mistakes were made by all sorts of people.  But if you push someone at the back of a queue and someone at the front falls over and dies you can be criminally liable for that killing.  Will all the public figures rushing to call for prosecutions of ambulancemen and policeman call for the prosecution of those at the back whose conduct crushed those poor souls at the front.  I don't think so. 
    Has anyone ever heard a supporter saying I feel guilty about what I did?  I don't think so. There is always someone to blame and it is always someone else.

  37. RevStu says:

    “If you’re going to make a comparison then at least try and make sure that the conditions are remotely similar. It was pretty clear even from the Taylor Report that police made decisions on the day that were not normal protocol. “

    Almost exactly the same things had happened at the previous year’s semi-final, also involving Liverpool. Did you even read the report?

  38. Stuart Winton says:

    Agree with a lot of what you say here, RevStu, although perhaps not on the detail, and in other regards. But, in particular, you say:
    "But for some reason, once a crowd reaches a certain size people seem to assume that the normal rules of civilised behaviour they observe elsewhere in life no longer apply."
    To an extent, perhaps, but then again maybe the more important factor is the mentality of the group involved rather than the size of the crowd.
    How come Hillsborough previously dealt with capacity crowds without the same pushing and shoving evident outside the Leppings Lane end on the fateful day?
    How come you could get 2,000 people into a nightclub (say) in a fairly orderly fashion, but if someone shouted "Fire" there could be a stampede to get out and perhaps many killed or injured.
    Or how come 30,000 people can queue up to start a race like the London Marathon but a number a fraction of that size in another context couldn't form an orderly queue?
    Of course, it's all to do with the mentality of those involved or, more accurately, the average mentality, since of course it's a mistake to assume that everyone in such a scenario is exactly the same.
    But, for example, it's interesting that you mention Joe Strummer because the worst gig I was ever at in terms of crushing was The Clash at the Caird Hall in Dundee more than 30 years ago, where numerous people were pulled out of the packed crowd in front of the stage having fainted, or similar.
    But I'd been to gigs there before and after, and with similar numbers involved, but without anything like the same crush. Of course, the difference seemed to be that because it was the Clash (rather than the Buzzcocks, say) the mindset was just that bit different and thus the crush greater and thus also more dangerous.
    Or as regards my own mini-Hillsborough scenario described on my blog (per the link above). One minute all was calm and the turnstile queues orderly, the next minute some numpties had broken a gate down and all hell broke loose as hundreds tried to get in for nothing. But police managed to form a cordon and a couple of minutes later all was calm again, other than the fact that a few people were hospitalised and one was paralysed and confined to a wheelchair. But if the pushing and shoving had continued rather than those involved realising that it had all become futile, then I'm sure there would have been many other casualties, including probably myself as a young boy crushed in the middle of lots of burly football fans.
    As regards Hillsborough itself, it's pretty much self-evident that there was lots of pushing and shoving, and that many of those involved were ticketless – why else could there such an obvious excess of bodies when the stands and terraces were already clearly near or beyond capacity?
    And whatever the crowd dynamics of these things and the various geographical/architectural problems, it's surely self-evident that there were some on the edge of the crowd pushing and shoving who could have easily walked away from it all? No doubt many did.
    Prophet Peden mentions crowd psychology, and no doubt that was a factor, but this seems merely an extension of group psychology, and to that extent would excuse  those involved in things like a group giving an individual a kicking, a gang rape or a riot or affray, which was presumably not what he meant.
    By the same token, someone said above that ultimately crowd control is the responsibility of the police as if that exonerated misbehaviour by fans, but that's like excusing criminality more generally by saying that it's the responsibility of police to control it.
    Of course, none of the above is to doubt the findings of the independent report, except where it seems to excuse ALL fans as not being in any way culpable, as if someone with a ticket crushed to death in the Leppings Lane enclosure could be equated with someone arriving at five to three without a ticket pushing and shoving from the edge of the melee.
    By the same token, all that's not to say that the latter did anything particularly bad. I'm sure if they'd known that people were being killed and injured then they would have stopped immediately, but like the police who tried to improve the scenario by taking certain decisions at the time – but inadvertently perhaps mading things worse – it self-evidently wasn't done to deliberately risk life and limb.
    All of which no doubt makes me little better than Kelvin Mackenzie, but what I'd really like to see is a proper examination of the actions, motivations and psychology of those trying to get into the Leppings Lane end that day, but I somehow suspect we'll never see that.
    And as the latest report indicates, there's too much of the usual crude and reductionist blame-shifting, ideological partisanship and identity politics-style thinking in evidence to get to the whole truth. Not to mention the not unusual strict good v evil portrayal of it all – with no shades inbetween – and this has been exacerbated by the media reportage, as indeed is normally the case.
    Which I mention, incidentally, because that's essentially why I disagree with the Rev Stu on Scottish independence, so it works both ways.

  39. Will says:

    The taylor report is clear on that matter – the stadium's official capacity at that end was not reached at any point, and alcohol and ticketless fans were not contributory factors to the disaster – I provide some relevant quotations from related reports below:
    “I have already found that there was not an abnormally large number of fans without tickets on this occasion. With one or two exceptions, the police witnesses themselves did not subscribe to the ‘conspiracy’ theory (of a large number
    of late-arriving ticketless supporters). I am satisfied that the large concentration at Leppings Lane from 2.30 pm to 2.50 pm did not arrive as a result of any concerted plan. There were, I accept, small groups without tickets who were willing to exploit any adventitious chance of getting into the ground. They, together with the minority who had drunk too much, certainly aggravated the problem faced by the police. But that main problem was simply one of large numbers packed into the small area outside the turnstiles,” The Interim Taylor Report, paragraph 208. 
    “The police witnesses who most impressed me did not consider the number of ticketless fans to be inordinately large. This accords with two other sources of evidence,” The Interim Taylor Report, paragraph 200
    “Sheffield Wednesday FC’s own admission count system showed the terrace did not exceed its 10,100 capacity (for the Leppings Lane end). As part of their analysis, the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) counted the number of [Liverpool] supporters entering the ground, including those through the turnstiles, through Gate C and even those who climbed over the turnstiles. They gave three admission figures based on their analysis. Their first figure was 9,267, their ‘best estimate’ was 9,734, and their third figure was a ‘maximum estimate’ of 10,124. The HSE report stated it was unlikely that the terrace exceeded 10,124 and that total admissions were approximately equal to the designated capacity of 10,100 people. Taylor surmised there was no substance to the allegation that ticketless fans caused the Disaster,” The Hillsborough Football Disaster: Context And Consequences, page 17 
    "Consistent with Lord Justice Taylor’s findings, the Panel found no evidence among the vast number of disclosed documents and many hours of video material to verify the serious allegations of exceptional levels of drunkenness, ticketlessness or violence among Liverpool fans. There was no evidence that fans had conspired to arrive late at the stadium and force entry and no evidence that they stole from the dead and dying." The Report of the Hillsborough Independent Panel, page 26
    The problem was that when the fans were let in to the stadium (predominantly via the opening of emergency gate C, ironically to prevent a crush at the turnstiles – which were inadequate for safely processing the crowd entering), the tunnel to the already full pens had not been blocked off and the crowd (note that it's not their home stadium) were not properly directed to areas that were not already full. This was, quote, "a blunder of the highest magnitude" on the part of those responsible for crowd control.
    Once they were in that tunnel, with that many people, the only way to actually be able to get them out again is with a co-ordinated and controlled effort on the part of the police and/or stewards, something that just didn't happen. Anyone that has been to a protest march, a packed train station or a big gig would know that despite the best intentions of everyone individually, these things can certainly still happen, and the situation where it could happen should never have been allowed to occur.
    Today, we spend millions of pounds designing passenger flows in train stations, venues and clubs precisely because large groups of people are hard to control, and it's astounding to me that you are so insistent on portioning out such a high amount of blame for the disaster on the victims themselves, when every single inquiry into the disaster from the Taylor report onwards has consistently refuted it with a greater weight of evidence.
    My advise would be to read the reports, or at the very least the summary, because it seems clear that you're arguing from an ill-informed position that is governed more by an 'I reckon' position than one based on fact and evidence.

  40. RevStu says:

    “ticketless fans were not contributory factors to the disaster”

    My personal view is that ticketless fans specifically were not a major factor, but the section of the report you quote says there were enough that they “certainly aggravated the problem”, so it doesn’t seem to make quite the clear-cut case that you’re asserting it does.

    (Report) “There were, I accept, small groups without tickets who were willing to exploit any adventitious chance of getting into the ground”

    How many is a “small group”, though? With the crowd already so densely packed it wouldn’t – as I’ve already noted – take very many people pushing to cause the crush, and those trying to sneak in without tickets would logically be likely to behave more aggressively in that regard.

  41. RevStu says:

    “what I’d really like to see is a proper examination of the actions, motivations and psychology of those trying to get into the Leppings Lane end that day, but I somehow suspect we’ll never see that.”

    Indeed. The official narrative now has swung to the opposite extreme, namely that every single supporter behaved impeccably and not a single one bears any responsibility for the disaster whatsoever. It’s every bit as much bullshit as the original police account, but such is now the way of the world.

    The odd thing is that this massive change of consensus opinion has come about as a result of yesterday’s document, which in fact revealed almost no new information whatsoever about the disaster itself, compared to the Taylor report. The outrage, quite properly, is directed at the appalling cover-up, but at the same time it seems oddly to have somehow changed the facts about the disaster itself.

  42. Will says:

    Seriously, please read the taylor report. 
    I direct your attention to the quote regarding capacity. 
    Ticketless fans are irrelevant because the number of fans inside Hillsborough in total was far under capacity. The problem was that, with no police directing fans away from full pens, everyone flooded into the tunnel leading to Pens 3&4, because that was where signs directed them (and I'm sure the "follow the crowd" mentality kicked in. They probably didn't know where they were going as it was not their home stadium). This was exacerbated when Duckenfield ordered Gate C to be opened to relieve the crush at the turnstiles. 
    I seriously cannot believe that you are insisting that the fans are responsible when there's over 400 pages and just under half a million items of evidence that not only rejects that the fans are responsible for the disaster, but also shows that there was an explicit cover-up and smear campaign that perpectuated that idea to protect those that were really responsible to a criminal degree.
    To assert that every fan was a rational actor that could have altered the course of events is nonsense. Not everyone knew where they were going, they were not being directed by anyone, and likely assumed that those in front of them did know where they were going. By the time that word would have gotten back to the people at the rear (a line that is constantly moving backwards as more and more people join the queue) to move backwards, enough pressure would have build up to crush people to death with such pressure that one fan's watch had the glass explode.
    Your article gives far too much prominence to factor that was negligible at best in terms of its impact on the events of that day, and it tantamount to blaming people that die in a fire in a train station for going to work that day. 
    Crowds behave in the way that they do at every other big event – whether it be an FA cup final, a live performance, a protest march, or even a busy train station. It is not some black box where it cannot be predicted or anticipated by those organising the flow of people who have far better oversight than ANYONE in the middle of a crowd could possibly have.
    The evidence and reports, quite a few of them now, are all very clear on what caused the disaster – there's thousands of pages and half a million items of evidence, which at least three separate panels have drawn the same conclusions from, but please, by all means, ignore all of this and go on to blame the fans and tell them that they could have prevented it. You've clearly cracked the REAL conspiracy here.

  43. Stuart Winton says:

    Will said:
    "it's astounding to me that you are so insistent on portioning out such a high amount of blame for the disaster on the victims themselves".
    Can't see anyone blaming the victims for anything, so it's a bit rich to tell others to go and read things properly. In fact I think you've just underlined one of the misrepresentations that some are trying to point out, namely that anyone apportioning any blame at all on any fans are to that extent blaming the victims. Indeed, that's one example of what I was saying about this crude identity poltics dimension to the debate, ditto the simplistic unalloyed good v unmitigated evil etc etc.
    But even assuming the ticketless fans problem was exaggerated, I just can't see how the whole situation could have arisen in the first place without a good deal of pushing and shoving by at least some people with at least a degree of recklessness as to the consequences.
    I mean, if the circumstances of that day had been identical but for the group of people involved – at the other extreme 50,000 OAPs, say – then do you think things would have progressed as they did?
    I doubt it, somehow.

  44. RevStu says:

    Will, I'm increasingly arriving at the conclusion that you haven't actually read my blog post either. I don't know why you keep repeating things that aren't in dispute and which are acknowledged in the piece (the many failings of the authorities, the despicable nature of the cover-up), and making up things that aren't said – I very explicitly say the victims could have done nothing to avert their fate, and I certainly don't "blame" them.

    I also can't work out why you're so keen to quote official reports and then ignore what they say. You say ticketless fans had NO effect, even while quoting a report that says they did, and even though I didn't mention ticketless fans in the post at all.

    “tantamount to blaming people that die in a fire in a train station for going to work that day.”

    The King’s Cross fire of 1987, of course, is generally held to have been started by a passenger’s discarded cigarette/match. No doubt that’s the police’s fault too, for not more rigorously enforcing the anti-smoking rules on the Underground that day.

    And I’m sorry, but anyone peddling the shameful line that people in a crowd are somehow freed of the responsibility to think and act for themselves might as well go out and shout at the moon to turn blue as talk to me, because you’re never going to convince me that bullshit is Bollinger.

  45. Kinelref says:

    "being there doesn’t mean you can say that there was no pushing, somewhere behind you or in front of you or to the side of you."
    And not being there means that you can say that there was pushing, that logic could be called many things, perhaps curious is the least inflamatory of those..

  46. RevStu says:

    I know there was pushing because 96 people got crushed to death. That force didn’t fall out of the sky. It came from behind them.

  47. Grant says:

    Or it came from gravity, specifically the normal force perpindicular to the plane, acting upon people standing on a slope that couldn't stop them from leaning forward, even if they didn't want to. 
    Occam's razor says that you don't need to introduce an external agency (pushing) when the facts support the conclusion without it. So, the burden of proof is now on you to show there was pushing.
    And unless you remove the Heysel reference, you're saying that football fans were at least partly responsible for the fences being put in (to stop pitch invasions) rather than incompetent authorities overreacting in a dangerous manner. Therefore, according to more than one authortive reference I've found, and your logic, Scottish fans are at least partly culpable for the 96 deaths. ( )
    I don't agree with this, but it's where your logic is taking you.
    Finally, in support of Will, if we only define victims as those who died, you're right that you never blamed them. But there's thousands of victims alive today who were in that pen that are still bearing the mental scars of Hillsborough, and you certainly are putting some blame onto some of them.

  48. RevStu says:

    Not at all. I've never claimed to know exactly where the pushing came from. It could have been in the tunnel, it could have been further back.

    "Occam's razor says that you don't need to introduce an external agency (pushing) when the facts support the conclusion without it."

    Indeed. But they don't. People don't usually die in crowds. People didn't usually die at Hillsborough. An extraordinary force was exerted from somewhere on the people at the front, and it didn't come from the police.

  49. Stuart Winton says:

    Grant said:
    "Or it came from gravity, specifically the normal force perpindicular to the plane, acting upon people standing on a slope that couldn't stop them from leaning forward, even if they didn't want to."
    You mean the slope in the tunnel and/or on the terracing? But there was no slope outside the ground, where the crushing necessitated opening the gate. Clearly when the gate was opened the slopes exacerbated the crushing, but it wasn't the only cause.
    "But there's thousands of victims alive today who were in that pen that are still bearing the mental scars of Hillsborough, and you certainly are putting some blame onto some of them."
    But I doubt if anyone in the pen could do anything other than passively wait and hope they survived. The proximate cause was the crushing in the pen – about which the occupants could do nothing – but the ultimate cause arose much further back in the whole dynamic.
    Of course, it's also true to say that those further back wouldn't have been aware of what was happening further up and down at the front in the pens.

  50. Kinelref says:

    You know that there was pressure, you don't know that there was pushing, There was movement obviously, the same type of movement that many of your readers will have experienced in the rush for the latest video game release when a store opens at midnight.  What killed many people that day was that the natural direction of flow when overcrowding is experienced i.e. out onto the pitch, was not just stopped when those who attempted to scale the fences were repulsed by police but also reversed when those who had escaped were forced back in by police.   The criminal element of this tragedy (as it would in any other e.g. a power plant explosion) lies in the non provision of a valve to relieve unexpected pressure, not in the accidental application of pressure.

  51. Jeanette says:

    I am an American who was only seven when this disaster occured, and I have zero interest in soccer whatsoever. I only learned of this disaster today. However, I googled it out of curiousity, and as an outside observer, I find your article disgusting. You are grossly misinformed as to the dynamics of a crowd crush, as one poster helpfully pointed out in the article link to
    The small movements of so many people aggregate into a powerful force – one that security officials are often helpless to halt – that has the capacity to knock over bodies, shove them together and, ultimately, asphyxiate them.
    This sounds impossible, but 21 people died at Love Parade inside a crowd that had essentially been standing still. There was no real crowd rush or dramatic "stampede." And this is the heart of the mystery to non-scientists as to how such a thing could happen.
    "Why do people think it's panic that causes crowd disasters?" Helbing asks. "They just cannot understand how it can happen that people can die although nobody is behaving in a ruthless way."
    There were more people at the Love Parade, but they weren't crammed into nearly as small a space. I watched videos of the people who survived the Hillsbourgh disaster, and it wasn't a matter of shoving your way out of it as you did in crowd crushes. People caught in the crush could not lift their arms from their sides. One man had the glass covering his watch break from the pressure. Another reported that he could not move from the neck down.
    Why do you continue to insist that it was caused by pushing from the back rather than accepting the explaination of an expert researcher who has studied pedestrian flows for twenty years? Why are you painting Liverpool fans as brutal cretins when many made makeshift stretchers to help victims and others hoisted people to safety from the terracing?
    To claim that the disaster was caused by the behavior of the fans is not only inaccurate, but grossly irresponsible. You should post an apology and a retraction and do some research before you write something like this. 

  52. RevStu says:

    “People caught in the crush could not lift their arms from their sides.”

    Indeed. Because people were pushing. It doesn’t matter how much you try to explain it away – if nobody anywhere pushes, THERE IS NO CRUSH. Even “small movements” are dangerous if they’re small movements INTO OTHER PEOPLE.

    Why do you continue to insist that it was caused by pushing from the back

    Because I’ve been in a hundred crowds, football and otherwise, and that’s what people do. You, by your own admission, have never been to a football game with standing terracing, so you don’t have a clue what you’re talking about.

  53. Stuart Winton says:

    Jeanette says:
    "Why are you painting Liverpool fans as brutal cretins when many made makeshift stretchers to help victims and others hoisted people to safety from the terracing?"
    So you're characterising the attitude, mindset and behaviour of thousands of people on the basis of what a small proportion of them did? And claiming that others are characterising EVERY Liverpool fan as "brutal cretins"?
    To that extent your own mindset and attitude is is clearly prejudiced, to say the least.
    Look, personally I'm not saying that pushing and shoving from the back makes anyone a "brutal cretin", because for a start I'm sure that if those doing it were aware of what was happening up ahead then they would have stopped.
    By the same token, I don't think the police opened the gate to kill people, they did it with the intention of PREVENTING death and injury, but clearly that was a huge misjudgement.

  54. col says:

    well stu just woundering if you work for the sun ??? what a joke i worked as a steward for 20+ years and seen it change how it done but the truth is the police comander has total control all disitions on any situation is made by him so he the one to blame before the crowds come into the ground he ment to do a safty check on everything know how many ppl each stand can hold and he to check that the ground has it safty certifecate and has got the right ammount of stewards to cover the game and that they are paremedics in attendance then and only then can the order to be given to open turnstiles now as a steward i worked at turnstiles as part of the search teams and held a radio and i agree ppl push in growds but you cant turn around tell them to f-off if you did you get smaked to the floor you never been in a situation like that that for sure if we see a crowed pushing ppl or been abusive to others we pull them out and sent away there always a bit pushing in ques that standerd but the mastake that was made on that awfull day was made by the police comander before ppl arrived at the ground he not done his check or if he did he chose to ignore the facts fail there second ppl to have to hold there hands up are sheffield wednesday owners for even excepting to allow the game to be played there knowing they had no safty certivicate and the council for not making sure they had one its quite clear you taken your thoughts on this for what you read and seen but you never been in a growed out side the turnstiles at 20 min to kick of so i suggest you go to one a big game go stand in the que see how many ppl you turn around and tell to back off and swear at them see what happens it reports by ppl like you who help cover the truth up the truth is 96ppl died cos of bad managment from all who allowed the game to play i supported liverpool for over 20+ years and find your views affencive …JUSTICE FOR THE 96  JUSTICE FOR THE 96 JUSTICE FOR THE 96 JUSTICE FOR THE 96 JUSTICE FOR THE 96 JUSTICE FOR THE 96 JUSTICE FOR THE 96 JUSTICE FOR THE 96 JUSTICE FOR THE 96 JUSTICE FOR THE 96   

  55. RevStu says:

    Take a breath sometime, Col.

  56. col says:

    life to short to take to many breaths stu lolllll 

  57. RevStuKilla says:

    I am headed to England to hunt down RevStu.

  58. bronze says:

    This betrays such a fundamental lack of understanding of crowd dynamics that I'm finding it hard to believe you aren't being deliberately offensive. You haven't addressed anybody's arguments pointing out how clearly wrong you are, but I guess facts would get in the way of your turgid, moronic excuse of a critical thinking piece. 

  59. Steve says:

    Well done Stu, a well written and brave article. It would be nice if Liverpool fans shared in some of the culpability for what happened, but as Juve fans will tel you, that can be a very long time coming.
    There's a reason United fans sing "always the victims, it's never your fault".

  60. AJ says:

    This is a badly thought article that seems to ignore actual evidence uncovered by the various inquiries over the years(it is a simple factual inaccuracy to claim " But none of these failings caused a single death" as it has been shown that not allowing the Ambulance service to enter the ground denied treatment to tens of people who could have been saved,which can only be laid at the door of the Police).
    I also fail to see how you can claim that allowing a high profile match to take place in a stadium that had no safety certificate & that had already came close to similar disaster occurring previously(Spurs vs Villa) without adequate supervising has no bearing on this case, it is simply ludicrous.
    The final kicker is your tedious attempt to compare your visits to concerts to Hillsborough, & your (frankly pathetic) comparison between queuing at the post office & queuing in a crowd, these are clearly the arguments of somebody with an axe to grind( as no-one sane could think they are well thought out).
    Perhaps you should stick to writing about games, your lack of fact checking & clear bias would fit in quite nicely (or is unpaid bias cool to you?)

  61. RevStu says:

    “But none of these failings caused a single death” as it has been shown that not allowing the Ambulance service to enter the ground denied treatment to tens of people who could have been saved,which can only be laid at the door of the Police).”

    That’s still not the CAUSE of death. It’s a contributing factor. You don’t need an ambulance unless you’re already dying.

  62. Despite the authors clear Aspergers Syndrome, I am compelled to agree on certain points.
    The mob mentality isn't something unique to football fans, it is a grotesque link with our primitive origins that is evident in many facets of contemporary lifestyle. Let us not forget that 'Fute' The Ball was originally an incredibly violent community shrovetide confrontation between rival villages, often subscribed to as way of settling tribal and religious feuds.
    Having been responsible for the stewardship of crowd safety at numerous public events I can testify to the blatantly selfish, inconsiderate and overtly sociopathic behaviour of literally tens of thousands of individuals. These acts are plainly visible every single weekend, all across the planet. All of them perpetrated in the name of 'Having a good time'. From letting a drunken vulnerable friend walk home alone, to throwing bottles into the crowd.
    There is a larger concept of abdicating responsibility that several of your readers touch on. The idea that in times and places of public gathering there is a greater plan put in place by those charged with your physical well being, thereby removing the basic human responsibility of personal and peer safety. Thereby providing an immediate latitude for uninhibited excess.
    This is, as deliberately manifested by the greater collective or society, a product of two primary factors (a) The natural state of exuberance experienced by individuals banding together to pursue tribal affiliation within a public arena, (b) The consumption of intoxicants, usually in the form of alcoholic beverages.
    We have (as a species) created tribal ball games to enable a relatively sanitised replacement for inter community warfare. This is an evolutionary path attempting to supersede animalistic pack behaviour. It is to be expected that this will carry a proportionately diminished yet persistent human cost. From a broken ankle on the Ibrox pitch to heads bursting into flames in the Bradford City stand. Apportioning blame in the event of a statistical spike, serves only to highlight yet further abdication of responsibility by individuals and the collective alike.
    If you join the armed forces, there is a chance that you may well die prematurely. If you engage in tomb stoning, there is a high chance that you may die prematurely. If you drive a car, there is a higher chance of you being fatally injured in a car crash, than there is if you are a pedestrian.
    If you attend a football match or any event with thousands of people in a confined space, you will probably have a great time and maybe the price of your ticket will assure you a reasonable amount of personal space. However there is a small but statistically inevitable chance that you will die prematurely after witnessing those around you succumb to asphyxia or internal haemorrhages.
    You know the risks, don't whine like a bitch if your number comes up and furthermore ;

  63. basquilly says:

    I know I'm a bit late to the discussion but this has really annoyed me since I started educating myself about the hillsborough disaster a few weeks ago. Can people honestly claim that the fans hold none of the blame for the events? I mean the primary issue was that the fans were pushing into the stadium, regardless of whether they knew what was happening inside. And to shunt the blame on the police who were trying to prevent such incident from occuring outside the stadium is the easy way out. Sure their decisions led to the incident inside the stadium but they saw the risk of injury and death at the turnstiles and did all they could to avoid it. What else can you expect them to do when they are trying to deal with thousands of loud, over eager who were ignoring or could not hear their demands. In hindsight its easy to blame the poor safety standards upheld at the stadium, and i don't deny that a large portion of the blame lies here.

    When a car crash takes place due to one party speeding, who is at fault; the driver of the speeding car, or those who improperly marked a potentially dangerous bend, the minister for transport, or anyone else who might be related to the incident? Or all of them? The driver did not intend to kill anyone, but he took the risk (even if he didn't see it as such) and ignored warnings, and he caused a crash. The fans at Hillsborough didn't intend to kill anyone, but they took a risk and directly caused the deaths of 96 people. That can't be ignored.

    There seems to be an attitude that " those poor fans have suffered enough lets ignore their role in this." People like to blame the authorities when these sorts of events occur because they are impersonal. People were pushing with such force that people were crushed to death! The police aren't superhuman, the strength of a few officers isn't going to hold that back.

    People need to stop being so politacally correct and admit that the fans should bear a large portion of the blame. No one likes to say it but I'm glad I'm not the only one who isn't afraid to be honest and brutal on this issue.


    note: I am not saying that those who were killed were to blame. I say this because inevitably some idiot would throw that at my face in his/her rage and disgust

  64. Disgusted says:

    This article is perhaps the most moronic, offensive and immoral piece of writing I've ever seen.

    The fact you believe that as a person of clearly limited intellect your opinion holds more weight than 12 jurors who studied detailled evidence for two years shows how deluded you are.

    Shame on you, take some time to consider your behaviour today then apologise.

  65. RevStu says:

    “The fact you believe that as a person of clearly limited intellect your opinion holds more weight than 12 jurors”

    I might have limited intellect but I can count up to nine without thinking it’s 12, champ.

  66. Analytics says:


    I've tried to find the 'evidence' from the inquest that informs the public where the critical injuries and in some cases the place of death occured. This does not appear to have been published. It seems a key piece of outcome/evidence that would have prompted a number of questions.

    As you observe the primary and immediate cause of death was crush injuries, and by definition a crush injury requires a force to be applied to the human body.

    So where did that force come from?  – It came from a weight of people pressing against each other.

    For all the commentary above about contributors who don't understand crowd dynamics etc etc, The base fact remains that people leant against each other. If people had not leant against each other NO-ONE would have been injured or died. Other people with much experience of football and other major large crowd events claim that pushing and movement is 'normal' in a crowd. That may be true, but if the individuals at the middle, back and in the tunnel of that Hillsborough stand had left 6 to 9 inches of space from the person in front, there would have been no crush. 

    Whilst there is evidence of Police at the fence pushing the crowd back making the already lethal situation worse. NO evidence of police or Stewars physically pushing fans into the tunnel has come to light.

    I alos note that there is a distinct lack of evidence presented/publicised from those fans who were at the back, middle or tunnel of the stand as to actually was going on where they were acting. – Or should I say pushing…because someone did push. I'm sure that the '96' were innocent, killed mostly by asphxiation from crushing.

    The subsequent actions and inactions of the poice and other 'authorities' are also contributory to the deaths and the cover up of the mistakes that were made is inexcusable, but it was not the primary cause for those 96 deaths.


  67. Niall says:

    I see you're still answering comments on this:

    have you now changed your opinion stated above in this paragraph?

    "With regard to the sloping tunnel, that’s clearly a contributing and dangerous factor. But again, it’s just even more reason to have respect for your fellow fans and be careful when going down it. It had been there for years without a disaster, including with big crowds in identical circumstances, so what was different at the semi-final?"

    Since, based on the transcripts and evidence I have read, it is now clear that the circumstances were not identical in previous years, as, in 1988 for example, Match Commander Mole ordered the tunnel closed at the time the central pens were full, consequently directing new entrants into the side pens.  Had this been done in 1989, the tunnel and the central pens would not have been filled beyond capacity, thus creating a 'loveparade'-type situation in which people in the crowd lost the ability to control their movements.

    What would 'being careful going down a tunnel' in which far too many people had been directed actually look like?

  68. Bob says:

    Why on earth did you read it then if you knew it would offend you?
    It's like the people who say "fuck the sun" or "fuck Murdoch" but are then quite happy to watch and pay for a sky sports subscription!
    The one thing I've found with the hillsborough tragedy is that it is very hard to have a completely rational, calm and sophisticated conversation about it with someone from Liverpool without them defaulting to pointing the finger at everyone else and basically telling you to fuck off because you didn't not share their exact viewpoint. Let's get one thing straight, I do believe it was a tragedy as no one who goes to watch a football match shouldn't make it home, like at Bradford, heysel and hillsborough. I think one annoying thing for people who aren't emotionally attached to Liverpool and its football club is the difference in coverage between the heysel and hillsborough tragedies. Unless you go looking for it, you barely hear a peep about heysel, whereas on social media the past week it's been a flurry of hillsborough related hashtags. From the outside it appears that it's all too easy to forget about heysel. 

    The one thing I've never be able to get my head around is, when it became quite clear that the stand was reaching/over capacity why did people still try and get into it? If I'm at th back of a queue and I can see in front of me that it's pretty hectic I'm not going to be too keen to throw myself into the middle of it. Regardless of what it's for. I'm not saying the authorities weren't at fault, and I agree with everyone that it's been an horrendous cover up, but I find it hard to believe that the same event would have occurred if everyone had entered the ground in a calm and orderly manner. The last thing I'll say is, if the authorities were to blame 100%, how come no Nottingham forest fans suffered the same fate?

  69. Matthew says:

    There are valid points here and furthermore it's thought provoking which after all isn't what journalism is all about? Well done for looking at the other side of the coin, a well written piece. 

  70. SteveSmith says:

    I think Analytics has hit the nail on the head.  I've got no direct interest in Hillsborough or football in general, but I was always curious how the fans could be judged blameless when no-one else was doing the crushing, and it had to come from somewhere. 

    I've done a small bit of airmchair research, and it seems to come down to crowd dynamics.  Even though no one-single person is doing much pushing, the force of people's very-small movements gets increased a little bit by each person until in large crowds it eventually starts to reach danger levels.  Soon people in this area don't have any choice; they are effectively buffetted around by everyone else.  Then if you add other factors like people losing their balance, panicing, asphyxiation and overheating, soon people start dying.

  71. RevStu says:

    “What would ‘being careful going down a tunnel’ in which far too many people had been directed actually look like?”

    It would probably look like it did in all the years when there were semi-finals there and dozens of people didn’t get killed.

    I don’t know why you appear to be suggesting I’ve said the police were blameless in the tragedy when I’ve very explicitly said they weren’t. There should of course have been people directing fans away from the tunnel, or closing it. That’s a serious failing. (Though very likely at least partly explained by the fact that opening Gate C was an emergency decision.) But it still doesn’t give people any excuse to shove each other down the slope and cause a crush.

  72. Atticus says:

    This is a courageous and important piece of writing. The bulk of the reaction to it has been reprehensible – and depressingly predictable.

    Although I don't feel qualified to evaluate the argument I think it should be taken seriously and, if it's incorrect, the reasons why – whether they relate to "crowd turbulence" or not – should be articulated clearly. Even if crowd turbulence is *capable* of rendering people blameless for their actions in such situations, a further step is required: showing that, in the particular circumstances of Hillsborough, crowd turbulence *actually did* render the fans blameless. Neither of these nettles appear to have been grasped by any of the reports into the tragedy.

    This crucial further argumentative step will depend, amongst other things, on the state of knowledge of those who sought to enter the central pens when they were already full. In that regard, I'm surprised that there's been so little mention of the account of Mike Braken – a survivor who briefly sought to prevent other fans from going down the tunnel. In his own words:

    "Approaching the tunnel that led down to our standing area behind the goal, and still shocked by the previous crush, I bought a carton of Kia-Ora near the tunnel's entrance. Hundreds of fans started to approach, and my fear returned. This was the only entrance to the pens directly behind the goal. "Don't go down there, mate, it's gonna be packed," I told a group of fellow fans. Like many others who thought they had come through the worst, they passed me without comment. I remain convinced that just one steward or police officer directing fans to the side entrances, away from the central pens, could have saved many lives that day. Every day since, I have wondered if I could, and should, have done more."

    Or, in the words of fellow survivor Adrian Tempany:

    "Mike Bracken found himself crushed outside the ground, before entering through an exit gate. After buying a drink to recover, he was horrified to find thousands more fans converging on the tunnel to the already packed central pens. With no police officers deployed to seal the tunnel, Mike briefly tried to steer them away. But he was a 20-year-old fan in a jumper and jeans. There were no police there, the fans reasoned: so what could be the problem?"

    If Mike Bracken had the wherewithal to see what was happening (and the gumption to try to do something about it) then why didn't others – including those who ignored Mike's explicit warning? Perhaps they'd been at the Leppings Lane end the previous year when the police had closed the tunnel when the central pens were full and reasoned that, if the police hadn't closed the tunnel, then the pens weren't full. If so, they made a fatal error of judgement; and one which, as Mike Bracken's story shows, ignored the evidence of their senses. (Incidentally, the HIP Report is clear that, in 1988, the tunnel was closed informally by the officers on the concourse – not only did Bob Mole not order it to be closed, he didn't even know that it had been closed in 1988 until after the tragedy (as the officers who closed the tunnel didn't mention that they'd done so in the 'debrief'.)

    One final point. Stu claims that the response of the fans was driven by guilt, not anger. Adrian Tempany's piece (link above) may provide some support for this claim:

    "This is not just a question of truth now: people’s lives are in the balance. To be unfairly blamed for killing people is an insult so grievous as to seriously disturb the mind. I know of one survivor, “Ian”, who lost a friend in pen 3. In 2007, Ian became upset about the controversy generated by the appearance of Kelvin MacKenzie on Newsnight, and a few weeks later he hanged himself. There was Stephen Whittle, who gave his match ticket to a friend, who died. In February 2011, Stephen stepped in front of an express train. Two of my mates who survived pen 3 have tried to kill themselves; both, mercifully, survived. But we know that if this next question goes against us, people will almost certainly take their own lives."

    The inquest's conclusion, that no part of the blame (however slight) is attributable to the fans, may well have saved lives. But if one is to argue that this is a good reason for reaching that conclusion then, to that extent, then it's not that it's "is not just a question of truth" – the truth is no longer being pursued.

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