Anonymous Survivor

An anonymous recollection of what it was like to go to a football match,witness your fellow fans die and then come home to deal with lies from the media, you know for a fact to be untrue:

We set off at 9.30 and the journey's about 2 hours, it's only 80 or 90 miles and we got there just after 1.00. We got to the end of the motorway, round Manchester way before you hit the Woodhead Pass, major traffic works.

That really pissed me off the year after cos we played in the semi-final the year after, 12.00 kick-off we were travelling down to Birmingham, Crystal Palace were travelling up from London. Man Utd and Oldham were playing at Maine Road for a 4.00 kick-off and there were all sorts of roadworks on the road that day as well and they wouldn't delay the kick-off time, 12 months later they hadn't learnt a bloody thing. Like everyone was parking their cars a couple of miles from Villa Park and charging up to the ground, it was like history repeating itself.

It's always amazed me, we got there, we set off with like plenty of time and we got there late, so people were bound to be turning up late that had maybe just allowed themselves 3 hours and I've never, ever seen that mentioned but there were serious roadworks.

We got there, went oh we'll have a drink. There was 5 of us in the car, 4 of us had tickets, one never. We parked up just outside the cordon, and quickly established that you weren't getting a drink there. I don't know where all these drunken people came from cos you couldn't get a drink where we were.

We went in, about 2.10, 4 of us that had tickets. We walked in the ground, quirk of fate, when we walked through the turnstiles. I mean there was no one at the turnstiles when we got there, we turned left and didn't go under the tunnel and next to, the Leppings Lane and that big stand there's some terracing there and it was quite high up.

We was effectively next to the seats looking down at the pens. We had to go up some steps. We were next to the people in the seats looking down on everything. One of the lads that were with us, I don't know, at about 2.45 he went to the toilet and came back and he said you not going to believe this, the old bill's just opened the gates, everybody's in for nothing. That pissed us off on the way home, what's his name? Croker. Came on the radio and said all the gates had been broken down. We were actually sat, 5 of us in the car with one of the lads that had actually seen it being opened. Before he went to the toilet, the lad that didn't have a ticket came and stood next to us. He seen us, he'd bought a ticket and got in, that was about 2.20.

Were you to the left of pens 3 and 4?

Yes

Did you notice anything about a build up in the pens at that time or nothing out of the ordinary?

Not really out of the ordinary, because, I don't know you're just caught up in everything. The one thing that we did notice is, immediately, the first bit of terracing we could see was empty. I don't know which pen it is, the left hand side if you were looking from behind the goal. That was empty then the rest, we couldn't see the far pen so I couldn't honestly say whether or not that was full. The 2 pens behind the goal just looked like they had lots of people in but nothing out of the ordinary. We had the warm up, everybody in the stands was all stood up anyway, you can only really tell when a game kicks-off, how many people's in the ground when everyone sits down and you start seeing the gaps.

The first time we notice anything like untoward was people getting on to the pitch. It wasn't like a pitch invasion, cos that's the first thing you think of is a pitch invasion. They were the wrong sort of people, people like me, 21 year old, idiots sort of thing but they weren't. The game's going on. This is going on. You're conscious of it you know, but you're watching the game and then Beardsley's hit the bar. You're concentrating on the game.

It was only when they actually stopped the game that things were going on and it was getting quite scary, cos the people that kept coming up were still not the people you expected in a pitch invasion. When they took the teams off the pitch and the old bill across the half way line you could see women and kids. Well they don't get on to the pitch. There was people laid down in the goal mouth, obviously hurt and there's one or two medical sort of people trying to cater for them. There's more people climbing over and you could see people being pulled up into the seats, pretty much where we were, on a level with us they were getting pulled up.

But to be honest, the pens themselves, it still just looked like full pens you know it was just a mass of people. I mean, how many people are meant to go in there, I don't know.

I remember a reporter it's like loads of people, loads of people from the stand on our left hand side, the big stand that runs down the side of the pitch they started coming on to the pitch and the police opened the line up across the half way line and someone had pulled some advertising hoardings down.

You always remember all the various fellas saying you fucking pigs something like that. They were and someone pulled this advertising hoarding down, there must have been about 20 people around it, there was someone on this advertising hoarding and they started running across the pitch with this advertising hoarding and the police just stand back, let them through and closed up again. It was like, why don't we try to do something here.

Once people start getting carted off on advertising hoardings someone should be realising this isn't about fighting, this is about something's happening but you still don't know what.

The Forest fans changed their attitude, they were climbing over the fence on the Kop and pulling down the advertising hoardings and bringing them down the whole ground.

Then we got the broadcast from Kenny Dalglish about we're trying to get a football game going. If they're trying to get a football game going on, then it can't be that serious to be honest you know they're trying to play football.

One of the lads that we know, he don't go anymore, he were the first person I heard turn round and said there's something serious gone on here, they won't be playing this match, that's it. It's finished. He actually convinced us so we thought we'll go at about 3. But at this stage we just had people hurt and then you think sunstroke something like that you know, there's a crush just like a pop concert.

We're getting out of the ground and get back into the car, obviously you've got the radio on, we've turned the radio on and we're driving back.

Just let me ask, did you leave out the back way, did you leave out through Leppings Lane end and what did you see, did you see ambulances or anything?

No, I might have done but I just don't know.

Where was the car, was your car pretty near?

Yeah, it was fairly close. You come down a little hill and then down. It was like on a road the other side of the Leppings Lane. The one thing that I can never understand afterwards was the police kept saying there was loads and loads of people outside the game. When the police admitted that they'd made an almighty cock up and let people in, they said there was loads of people without tickets outside that ground. At 2.10 I had to show my ticket to get on to Leppings Lane, it was cordoned off. There was definitely a cordon there. The side roads had a cordon as well, it was all cordoned off, so how people got through without tickets I don't know.

So you think that was abandoned at some point then? It must have been. It must have been because that's what the done the previous year as well hadn't they?

There was like a filtering process of showing your ticket before you get up to that point. The one thing, the year before there was a lot more tickets available. There was a lot of people selling tickets, in 1989 there was very few tickets to be had, you know the touts didn't have them or anything, the year before they had a load. But they definitely had a cordon up and you had to show your ticket to get through the cordon.

So you left Sheffield early on?

Yeah, say 3.30 - 3.45, no later. And you were listening to it on the radio? I had it on the radio, they started talking about people dying, they'd confirmed it was something. It was about 5 or 6 people then, I don't remember the exact figures cos we were going back. We stopped at a village.

How did you feel when you first realised that people had died? Was it unreal?

As soon as we heard it we stopped the car in some little village, You couldn't gauge it. All it was a crush at a football ground, similar to a pop concert and all they do at a pop concert they people at the front they just pull them out, spray water on the rest if it's you know heat exhaustion and people don't die in that circumstance.

You know, I personally couldn't get to grips with people being killed at the front of a football match. Then it started clicking that the people that were on the pitch they weren't there, they were the one's that were being pulled over. The first thing I did was try to phone me mam up. I always remember coming back from Heysel it didn't even enter my head coming back from Heysel that there'd be any concern at home or what have you till I walked through the door. I was conscious of that fact. I couldn't get in touch with me mam, the phone's constantly engaged so I phone me girlfriend up and she wasn't in but her stepdad was and I said look there's some trouble at the ground, people have been badly hurt, a couple have been killed. He said yeah we've got it on the tele. I said look I can't get through to me mam any chance you could just run round and tell her we're on our way back and we're alright.

So then we got back in the car and the numbers had gone up. Then that Croker come on the radio and said that Liverpool fans had kicked the doors in. The bloody police opened them you know cos one of the lads in the car had seen it. So we drove back, got back at, quite early evening 6.00-7.00 o'clock something like that.

Did you know people in the Leppings Lane End, were you concerned for them?

We went by car that day, basically cos we were skint and it was the cheaper option. Normally there's a good crowd say 15-20 of us. We were conscious especially when we were travelling back like out of our group so many have got Kemlyn Road season tickets so they must have been in the seats but most of us had Kop season tickets and all of us would have been on that Leppings Lane. So you start getting a bit agitated. So the first thing you do when you get back is you start phoning people up. I must have had about 15 phone calls myself when I got in. People phoning me up are you alright? To be honest it hadn't registered. It was the next morning, getting the papers turning the TV on, the numbers had gone through the roof, this is a bloody football match for god's sake. On Sunday morning everybody phoned everybody up and we pretty much knew that all our lot were pretty much alright.

There were 1 or 2 people we couldn't get in touch with one way or the other. We found out that one of the lads that doesn't come with us but he was on the same train, he wasn't one of our little group but we knew him. He was actually in a coma. He actually been read the last rights but someone has realised that he wasn't quite that bad and they should get him into hospital and get him fixed up.

The thing that just absolutely just blew everything out of the water was when the newspaper articles come out. I mean, a lot of people believe in those newspaper articles. I don't know what it was like in Liverpool. It must have been different in Liverpool because everybody I would say, would have, rejected those newspaper articles for what they were. But that didn't happen round our way, it didn't happen in the rest of the country and that article came out in the biggest selling newspaper and people believed it and people's attitudes changed from a disaster at a football match to self inflicted almost.

That caused trouble, that really was a bad thing, and I went absolutely ballistic. We came down the Saturday after to Anfield, I believe there was a memorial service but we couldn't get into it. We went round the ground. That was eerie, it was all quiet. I'd never before or after experienced anything like that. It really, really brought home what was going on.

Do you think it was important to do that then as a way of acknowledging what had happened?

I don't know what I thought. It was like a magnet. We just had to go. I'll never know why. I don't know why we had to go there we just did.

You were someone who continued going to watch Liverpool. What did you notice by why of difference if any in atmosphere when you going to the matches after that. Did talk about Hillsborough dominate?

Oh yeah. The first thing that I noticed straight away you couldn't buy a Liverpool shirt in the souvenir shop or sports shop, they'd completely sold out for some reason. We went up to Parkhead, you just felt that you had to go. We all got tickets for Goodison and I couldn't understand that because we never get tickets for Goodison. We all got tickets. I don't know if they'd given us more or something like that but we all went down there. If I hadn't have gone to those 2 games, I don't think I would have gone again. The talk was whether they should compete in the cup final or not and I thought we should, all of us, we really did. Because we didn't think we could lose it.

You read stuff and you were there and you saw the contradictory evidence and the stuff in the newspapers, did you feel that people would be prosecuted?

No

Because you didn't think they should be or because you were cynical?

Cynical. The chief executive of the FA went on certainly on national radio, I assume although I have never, ever seen but I would assume that he went on TV at the same time and said that Liverpool fans had kicked the door in. The only people that knew whether, that could have said the doors had been kicked in were the police. The newspapers came out with the articles that basically just killed it. Unquestionable. Just trying to tell people that the newspaper articles was the biggest crap ever. I have not seen anything like that and people were basically turning round and saying they've written it, it must be true, they wouldn't have made it up. Of course they bloody made it up, it wasn't true.