Football Friends Online – When 90 Mins Is Not EnoughFootball shaking off its murky past - Football Friends Online - When 90 Mins Is Not Enough Football shaking off its murky past - Football Friends Online - When 90 Mins Is Not Enough

Football shaking off its murky past

Documenting the decline of the football hooligan, through the tragic watershed that caused the sport to change its face.


It is over 22 years since the day that changed football so harrowingly passed, yet the quest for clarity and justice for the families of those that perished in the Hillsborough disaster of 1989 trundles on.

The saga has turned a fresh corner recently with the news that there is a desire to see documents relating to the conversations held by the ‘Thatcher Government’ about the disaster, debated in the House of Commons. Finally, this would allow the relatives of the 96 victims of Hillsborough to lay to rest the authorities’ true account of what caused the horrific sequence of events two decades ago on that sunny day of April.

The latest campaign was given fuel by Andy Burnham, former secretary of state for culture and sport who called for full disclosure in 2009, and led by Liverpool manager, Kenny Dalglish and then Newcastle midfielder, Joey Barton. Upon reaching 100,000 signatures, the petition immediately triggered a House of Commons debate on the potential uncovering of the files that have been yearned for so long by those close to the 96 Liverpool fans who lost their lives in the disaster.

Hillsborough acted as a watershed moment for football in England, occurring four years after the Heysel disaster in which Liverpool fans were adjudged to have collapsed a dividing stadium wall, killing 39 fans of Juventus. English clubs were subsequently handed an indefinite ban from European competition and hooliganism within the country became a sensitive issue.

England fans had rioted throughout the 80s on a regular basis, led by “super-hooligan armies” such as the Chelsea Head-Hunters and West Ham’s Inter-City firm. Tottenham saw a fan shot dead and another 200 held after rioting in Brussels before the 1984 UEFA Cup final with Anderlecht. In that same summer, England fans caused £7,000 worth of damage to Paris after losing 2-0 in a friendly with France.

Football’s reputation as being the sport for the lumpenproletariat was beginning to proceed itself. The fall-out from the Hillsborough disaster, most notably The Taylor Report of August 1989, saw fit to lay the finger of blame to police ineptitude; however, this was not the same conclusion arising from the inquest undertaken by the policing authorities, who many believe covered up the true account of events. For instance, claims were made that supporters had forced open a gate causing the crush, this was later admitted to be falsified by police, and that only events up until fifteen minutes past three, when the majority of casualties were no longer living, were detailed. Therefore, provisions such as the response of emergency services failed to be analysed. Fully aware of the association with the raucous side of football support, the authorities began to sweep the day’s events under a rug of quintessential convenience.

Adam Gray

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