Hillsborough Disaster Remembered

April 18, 2009 at 5:26 am | Posted in General Football | Leave a comment

It was the 20th anniversary of one of the darkest moments in football history recently.  96 people, all Liverpool fans, died in what is now known as the Hillsborough Disaster. This was the moment that English football hit rock bottom through a mixture of institutional neglect, indifference of the clubs, contempt for football fans among England’s ruling elite, and hooliganism.  

After the Heysel Disaster in 1985 in which many people also died in the European Cup Final, the reputation of English football was at its lowest ebb.  English clubs were banned from European competition. The money dried up and England’s football grounds crumbled. Bradford City’s ground burned to the ground causing still more deaths.

When all of the factors are examined, what is shocking is not that 96 people died, but that more people were not killed in the madly unsafe football grounds all over England. Such was the disregard of England’s institutions for football fans that they all assumed that the incident was caused by hooliganism. It was not. It was caused by a combination of people’s passion for football and the carelessness of the institutions which surrounded them: the police, the politicians, the clubs, and the English ruling elite, who viewed football fans as being beneath contempt. There is no doubt that England’s class system played its part as well. Football is now a game followed by all classes in England. In the 80’s football was still the game of the working classes.  

The Hillsborough Disaster was the wake-up call which changed football forever in England. It took 96 deaths to convince the establishment in England that change was necessary.  

A report was concluded known as the Taylor Report. The terraces were banned and all-seater stadia became the requirement. Fences in front of fans were banned. The clubs and politicians got serious about hooligans, and stopped treating  fans like animals who needed to be penned up in cages. The game was revolutionised by the creation of the Premiership. Security and Policing are now far more sophisticated. 

There is no doubt that going to a football match in England is now safe, and English football is now about football again, and the fan’s passion for the game.  

When you go to a match and enjoy it in safety, remember the 96. Their tragic deaths were what made your safety possible.

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