There is little doubt in mind that tomorrow afternoon will reveal what has been one of the greatest cover ups (not only in football) in history – as I fully expect the Hillsborough Independent Panel to reveal damning verdicts on both the South Yorkshire Police and the emergency services for their handling and reaction on that fateful April afternoon. The Liverpool fans will get the exoneration they deserve after being shamefully blamed for their actions that day – as the authorities attempted to use them as their own scapegoat for their failings.
I appreciate to the modern football fan who may have only witnessed the beautiful game in all-seater stadia, will have little understanding about the shocking way football fans were treated and seen by the establishment in the 80s – as all supporters were seen as hooligans out to cause trouble no matter how innocent they may have been. I would be foolish to suggest that there wasn’t a hooliganism problem in football during this time, but it was wrong to pigeon hole every person who dared to wear a scarf highlighting their allegiance as a potential thug. The problem was football fans were tarnished with the same brush and subsequently were easy prey when it came to pointing the finger of blame for any misdemeanours.
Let’s make no bones about the attitude of senior police when those dreadful scenes were played out at Sheffield some 23-years ago. Liverpool fans were easy pickings when it came to the blame game, largely down to events in Brussels in 1985, and therefore they had their target to cover up their extreme mis-management that subsequently cost the lives of 96 innocent football supporters. As the police froze and the emergency services stayed away it was the supporters who actually took responsibility in attempting to save their fellow fans by pulling them out of the crush and using make-shift stretchers to ferry supporters away in the hope they would receive subsequent treatment. How inexplicable it is that the very people, who were now actually doing the job of those being paid to safeguard and look after the supporters, should be the ones cruelly targeted and blamed for the tragedy that transpired. It is an absolute outrage and I genuinely hope this Independent Report firmly points the finger at those culpable and the real TRUTH is finally brought out into the public domain.
The grieving relatives of those who perished at Hillsborough deserve justice and I only hope this report will go some way in kick-starting this whole process.