Earlier today Raedwald posted:
In the Mail this morning I recommend Peter Oborne’s account of the aftermath of the Hillsborough findings. Like Oborne, I too believed plod’s account at the time (a lying travesty of evasion, distortion, invention and calculated dishonesy) which shamefuly the plods’ lawyers even tried to maintain at the inquest. It wasn’t as if I was stupid or naive or even trusted Plod; I’d trained as a mining engineer in south Yorkshire when the coal miners went on strike, and I’d seen at first hand the real suffering of folk in the pit villages around Doncaster and the bastardy of the drafted-in plods – Maggie’s Army. I’d been stopped on the A1 regularly on the Friday night drive home to Suffolk every time plod spotted my safety gear in the car and knew what it felt like to be seconds away from the primitive threat of thuggish violence if you gave the wrong response, or cheeked them. One learned to be humble, contrite, apologetic and big-up the southern middle class accent.
I came across the same plods, this time experienced and combat-hardened, during the Wapping dispute in London. Driving from central to south London via Blackwall Tunnel meant running the gauntlet of checkpoints, and vans full of armoured plods with clubs round every corner. So when Hillsborough happened, I had no reasons to imagine plod was a creature elevated in any way from the extinct neanderthal primates. Yet I did believe their Hillsborough lies – that the fans were drunk, rowdy, that they were out of control, had rioted, and the 96 dead were none of Plod’s fault. God forgive me.
I fear Raedwald is too hard on himself.
It’s been obvious from very early on the police were involved in a cover up. It’s what organisations do when things go badly wrong, whether they are government or business organisations.
To exonerate ‘the fans’ completely however is an anti – cover up. First of all criticisms of the fans behaviour, such as those voiced by the late Brian Clough were spun by Liverpool political figures and much of the media as if they accused the fans who died and were injured were somehow to blame. In fact those people who were killed or injured or were simply subjected to a terrifying experience were well behaved people who had bought their tickets and gone into the ground in an orderly way. There was no suggestion they were responsible in any way for the crowd problems.
In the past few days we’ve been treated to a parade of whining voices trying to claim there were no drunken people in the crowd. I don’t believe that, if its true then it was the first big match crowd ever where nobody arrived the worse for drink.
We all saw the television news coverage of Liverpool fans who had arrived without tickets trying to smash down one of the large exit gates, presumably to get into the ground free, so it cannot honestly be said fans were not in any way responsible. The human battering ram trick, which I only saw on TV that day but witnessed in person at Old Trafford, Man. City’s old ground, Maine Road, Bolton’s Burnden Park, and Blackburn Rovers’ Ewood Park, was a speciality of Liverpool and Everton fans at the time. It may have been employed elswhere, most of the big teams in the 1970s and 80s had their share of hooligans.
As for the notion currently being peddled by the media that Liverpool football fans at the time were angels, two words, Heysel Stadium
Can anyone really blame the cops (whatever we might think of them and I’m no fan) for panicking on seeing that nightmare unfolding? Unfortunately in panic, the worst possible decision, to open the gate, was made. It’s perhaps worth pointing out for the sake of perspective that in the USA and in most of Europe, if sports fans behaved in that way and did not disperse when the police told them to, the cops would have started shooting.
If there is any culpability, as has been said elsewhere in the threat, it must lie with the Football Association because they chose to play a very big match where passions were bound to be high, at a dilapidated ground in an unsuitable location.
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