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Anorak | Hillsborough: 96 Liverpool Fans Killed By ‘A Slum Sport Watched By Slum People In Slum Stadiums’

Hillsborough: 96 Liverpool Fans Killed By ‘A Slum Sport Watched By Slum People In Slum Stadiums’

by | 15th, April 2014

FIVE weeks after the horrors of Hillsborough, when 96 Liverpool fans died at the FA Cup semi-final, the mighty Reds won the FA Cup. The final was a Merseyside derby between Liverpool and Everton, played at Wembley Stadium, London, on 20 May 1989. Liverpool won 3–2 after extra time, with goals from John Aldridge and two from Ian Rush. Stuart McCall scored both Everton goals.

 

FA Cup winners stand dejectedly around the trophy, sitting on the ground, when the team was prevented from lining up for the official team photograph, by a pitch invasion, at Wembley, London, on May 20, 1989. From left to right; Steve McMahon, Barry Venison, Gary Ablett, Ronnie Whelan and Ray Houghton. Perimeter fencing had been removed from the ground after last month's Hillsborough stadium tragedy in which 95 Liverpool fans died. As a mark of respect both teams wore black armbands. (AP Photo/White)

 

Liverpool were on for the Double. Kenny Dalglish’s team needed only to avoid losing the season’s final game by a two goal margin to win the League title.

That final match had been originally scheduled to be played on 23 April. However, the deaths at Hillsborough had caused the Liverpool-Arsenal fixture to be postponed, with no suitable date found until after the FA Cup Final.

So. On May 26, 1989, England’s dominant team hosted Arsenal, the team needing to win by that two goal margin, a result  the Gunners hadn’t achieved in years . The title would be decided on a Friday night. The Gunners did it, of course, with Michael Thomas scoring the title clinching goal in injury time.

 

housands of football fans watch Arsenal midfielder David Rocastle does a victory dance on the balcony of Islington Town Hall during the Gunners homecoming parade. Rocastle holds the traditional League Championship trophy, won by Arsenal with a thrilling 2-0 victory over Liverpool.

 

I was there. Indulge me. It wasn’t just the shock of seeing Arsenal win the title that made that warm night unforgettable. It wasn’t just the joy of being able to run on to the pitch and ruffle Paul Merson’s hair. It was the Liverpool fans. I had watched the match from the Main Stand at Anfield, me and one friend having lost a draw for tickets. While everyone else from the coach stood with the Arsenal fans, we were with the Liverpool supporters.

 

arsenal-liverpool-

 

As that second goal went in, and we cascaded madly down the steps to the pitch, Liverpool fans congratulated us. As we stood at the pitch-side, no policeman shoved us back or grabbed us in a headlock. No truncheons were drawn.

Everyone seemed to stay in the ground. They sang Walk On. And we joined in. Fans mingled on the Anfield Road End. There was no trouble. Seats were ripped up as souvenirs. Liverpool fans helped.

Was this the game that a 1985  Sunday Time s editorial had called “a slum sport watched by slum people in slum stadiums”? It was. But the Times was only right about the stadiums, neglected and inadequate. In May 1985, the Bradford City stadium fire in May 1985 killed 56 people.

In 1985, 38 Italian fans died following a charge by Liverpool supporters at the Heysel stadium. The dead were killed when a faulty wall collapsed.

So. Why were Liverpool fans given the Leppings Lane end at Hillsborough while their less well-supported opponents Nottingham Forest stood in the bigger end of the ground? Because that was how the police wanted it.

The deaths were accidental. But they were the result of a policy that portrayed and treated football fans as scum.

 

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Posted: 15th, April 2014 | In: Key Posts, Liverpool, Sports Comments (3) | Follow the Comments on our RSS feed: RSS 2.0 | TrackBack | Permalink