The Truth

Hello everyone, I’m not actually back yet, still really busy, but I needed to record my thoughts on an emotive subject to me.   You won’t find any humour here, no Food Network chefs in compromising positions, no epic tales of hamsters from my childhood and no senior members of the royal family with their knickers round their ankles.   They will be back though when my work and social life shrinks back to manageable levels.

This may not even be on the news radar for many of my friends over the Atlantic since it pertains to football, soccer to you, but it isn’t really about football.  It is about what happened at a football match on the 15th April 1989, otherwise forever etched in our memory as the Hillsborough disaster.

95 Liverpool fans died that die and a further one later in hospital.   An overcrowded terrace resulted in them being crushed, the decision of Police to open a gate funneling people into already overcrowded pens creating the devastating crush as well as their incompetence in dealing with the events that followed.

The Police themselves blamed drunken and ticketless fans and a verdict of accidental death was recorded, the media followed with unfounded accusations and later public opinion could even be said to have swayed.

Britain’s most popular tabloid newspaper reported in a front page sensationalist headline titled “THE TRUTH”   They printed that fans stole from the pockets of the dead, that they urinated on”brave police” , that fans attacked a policeman giving someone the kiss of life.

At the time I knew this was wrong, I witnessed people on the TV helping others to safety, ripping off advertising hoardings to carry the injured, how was this being reported to cast them in this light.   You saw just one ambulance on the field and knew it was impossible for them to cope with all that was going on, 40 odd other ambulances were outside the ground prevented from entering by the Police.   It is estimated 46 people could have survived with access to medical care, but people were left dying whilst they did nothing.

It has taken 23 years of constant campaigning by the families of the deceased to release the reports of that fateful day in an effort to uncover the real truth, they finally achieved this yesterday as the files were released.  Whilst we knew who was really at fault we couldn’t quite believe the levels the authorities had gone to cover themselves and shift the blame.   You can read all this on news sites now but in summary it highlighted a heinous level of corruption and cover ups.   Statements were removed and amended before being submitted to an independent enquiry at the time, 164 statements were amended and 116 removed prior to the inquest all with the aim of covering up the Police forces fatal mistakes before and after the event in an effort to blame the victims and supporters.

There were other factors, the ground did not hold a safety certificate for one, and the disaster led to terracing being removed from grounds all over Britain, was a positive outcome but the deciding factor was the negligence of the authorities present who made decision after decision on the day that cost lives and then sought to cover up their mistakes.   In their efforts to divert blame they tested the dead for alcohol intake, including children as young as 10, when these came up negative they searched for any criminal history, anything that could try to pollute people’s minds and detract from the real blame.

From mere days after these people lost their lives at a football match, the police and the media targeted the supporters blaming them for the deaths, for 23 years families of the innocent have had to tirelessly defend their loved ones and fellow supporters in defence of these claims, driven on to demand the real truth.

I can’t relay all the events here but if you don’t know about the case then I urge you to read into it.  Let it be a reminder to us as to how those in power strive to cling onto it and exert it to the detriment of the people they protect or represent, but let it also be a reminder of the power we have to fight against them.

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  1. Great post, Joe, and good on the families for pushing all this time.

    • Cheers Guap, I can’t the strength they had to pursue this, I would like to think I could when met with adversity for that long. And knowing they will still fight for the verdict to be overturned and for people to take responsibility is great. I suspect that it will be just as tough though, those in power think hollow apologies they now make as they have no choice now will suffice.

  2. A tragic event, Joe. Nicely written.

  3. What is it about power that creates monsters? I don’t understand why, when people have the capability to do great good, they choose great evil. I guess i have done stupid stuff and abused what limited power I occasionally have. It’s tragic though. The stories where people do the right thing are newsworthy now, and evil seems common. Sad stuff.

    • To quote the great Bill hicks, we let the powerful run amok, and shoot down the good guys. People always want power over others and abuse it to keep it. It us part of our make up, or some of us, its nothing new and dates back further than we know, we haven’t evolved nearly enough.

  4. This is too heavy to be funny about. The cover up was wrong. The series of events leading up to this were handled wrong. But I doubt everyone in the crowd was blameless. The world can’t always be made safe for every situation. A crowd mentality is a strange thing. I have been in riots twice, and near riots a lot of times. People get crazy.

    • No doubt there is a herd mentality, we follow crowds and direction when ushered into them, happens at festivals I go to, so organisation is key, but their decision to open an exit that only went into two pens proved fatal, and they never dealt with the effects, they blocked people getting help. They could have thought in those few minutes a riot was happening but then say so, they knew they fucked up but lied in the most disgraceful way to cover it up at a time people were grieving they said it was their own fault. Cowardly and inhumane.

      • They lied and that’s wrong. But maybe they kept the amubulance crews back to protect them. Maybe they didn’t know if things were going to get worse. I am not taking sides. But it is easy to second guess these things. No one is ever all wrong.

        • I dunno, I have a waning respect for police, well not so much those on the ground, the ones spearheading things unconcerned with the public. Then again a guy walking home past a protest a couple of years ago with his hands in his pockets was shoved to the ground by the police and died, that policeman just got off with it despite them uncovering a file dedicated to him and the violence and harrassment he has been investigated of many times in the past.

          It’s the same system where sex offenders still manage to get jobs at schools and abduct and murder children. There has to be something catstrophic before action is taken on anything that should be blindingly obvious.

          I need to write a silly post now! Luckily my busy weeks are coming to a head soon so I can post something daft!

          • I started off anti police. Because I was always doing stuff I didn’t want them to see. But now, I have to respect the guys and gals who are going to go into my kids school and risk their lives if some nut shows up with a gun.

  5. I remember this at the time and it has never been too far from the surface ever since. That newspaper certainly did its part to damn a city and that city repaid it in kind. I think the editor who held the reins of that paper at the time has been laying low since the truth came out yesterday. It was the revelation that 40 odd people could’ve been saved, but weren’t that got to me. There’s something very wrong with that.

    • Thanks for your comments, at the time many newspaper published the same lies but they mentioned they were allegations, The Sun declared it The Truth, even the editor Mackenzie in 2006 said he is not sorry for publishing it, and would still do it, until he came out grovelling this week and then passed the blame onto his sources. Shouldn’t an investigative journalist investigate his sources too?

  6. I hadn’t heard about this incident, but I’m glad the truth finally came to light.

    Some researchers did a very detailed analysis of a similar disaster that happened in 2010 and determined that in that case, the major factor was something called “crowd turbulence” — when you have that many people so close together, they basically act like a fluid, and small forces (like, someone accidentally jostling the person in front of them) are amplified as they move through the crowd. It’s not about people panicking or behaving badly; it’s about physics and the domino effect.

    • Certainly, it does work like that which is why when they horded twice as many thousands of people into the space that took half that was such a bad decision. Things are safer now aas a result. The staium had no safety certificate, it had minor problems with overcrowding before, so it really shouldn’t have happened. But it was a different game then, there wasn’t the money behind it as there is now.

  7. I remember reading about this when it first happened. I had no idea about all the details, though, or the controversy since then. How awful for all those people. Thanks for sharing this, Joe. It always helps when the REAL truth comes to light.

  8. I hope some heads will be rolling after the release of the truth, namely those who were in authority at the time. They should be charged with manslaughter at the very least because people died for their negligence!

  9. Cheers Joe – was away when the report came out – one of those events you know where you were when it happened. Spot on about the “authorities” reaction to this as well.


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