Fanzines - voice of the ordinary supporter

We highlight Liverpool 'zine 'Through The Wind and Rain' - always a staunch supporter of the HJC and a voice that has kept alive and published articles on Hillsborough throuout the last 12 years. You can read all of their back issue articles about Hillsborough here

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The Hillsborough Justice Campaign
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L4 0UG
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Through the Wind and Rain
PO Box 23
L30 2SA


Through the Wind and the Rain Fanzine Archives

Issue 24 - Cracker And Crackers

Once wrote a Hillsborough article for TTW&R. Steve rejected it on the grounds that the subject was all that the Liverpool fanzines seemed to he talking about at that tirm. I had to agree that it was such a well worn path that it was in danger of becoming a trench. However, it has been back on the agenda lately for all the wrong reasons Jirnmy McGovern's script for a three part 'Cracker' was bound to be controversial. The fact that McGovern is from this area only made it more so. The story suggested that an individual who survived Hillsborough had, on the death of his father, suddenly turned psychotic and murders policemen, 'Sun' journalists and a number of other people. I approached the program with an open mind and I was prepared to accept it might have something to say on the pain and heartache that many still have to live with on a daily basis.

Indeed, 'Cracker' almost redeemed itself in the last episode when the killer was given his five minutes in the cell with Fitz to explain himself. What McGovern seemed to he trying to say was 'Hey, you might have forgotten about it but this tradgedy wrecked, and contnues to wreck, a lot of lives'. Perhaps we are angry because we'd already known that and didn't need reminding. However, the piece failed ultimately because it just felt like a sordid exploitation of that tragedy. He could have written about a fictional disaster and made the point just as well. He could still have used all of the same discrete parallels; the guilty cop, the "anything for a story" tabloid hack and most viewers would have got the point. Instead, the tragedy was blatantly exploited to create prirme time TV. Its intention may have been honourable but ultimately it wasn't worth it Mr McGovern, because you hurt too many people by abusing the disaster in this way.

Then we have Brian Cloughs characteristically clumsy attempt to give his own perspective on Hillsborough. I am particularly angered by what this dickhead has written because in issue 19 1 went out on a limb and wished him well in his retirement. So, you're a bitter old man, you think everyone's forgotten you, got a book to write, most controversial thing that happened in the whole of your career, what are you going to do to make sure you sell lots of books? You got it in one. Should we be surprised? Who cares about the truth? Me, actually. The fact that one of the country's top law lords looked at this and never uttered a word of criticism about the fans is overruled by the far more knowledgeable Cloughie. He was there, you see.

Sadly, there are people out there who will accept what Clough says as gospel. That is why this gory exploitation is unforgivable. I tried to understand what Clough was trying to say. Was there a chance that the fans really did contribute to the tragedy? Yes, perhaps it was our fault; just as in the same way those people who bought tickets for that fateful Pan Am flight were to blame for their own demise over Lockerbie; just as those oil workers were to blame for the Piper Alpha platform turning into a fireball. It's easy if you take away the real guilty parties. just shut them out and then all you are left with is the only people you can blame - the victim. They should have set off earlier, or stayed at home altogether eh Cloughie?

Bollocks. All of the people in the three disasters mentioned above died because someone didn't do their jobs properly. The consequences were tragic, but let's examine Chogh's logic in a little more depth. After all, a crowd of people can he a dangerous thing. It has no collective thinking, just the instinct of a herd. This is exactly why it is necessary to have crowd control wherever many people gather; concerts, sporting events, they even have a degree of crowd control at Henley and Cowes (er, so I'm told). The point is ANY crowd is a potential menace if they are allowed to get out of control. Just like a juggernaut. Not through malice or any bad intent whatsoever, but because of what they are. If the driver of a juggernaut falls asleep at the wheel, who are you going to prosecute? The driver or the juggernaut?

Ultimately, we dignify Cloughies ramblings by even bothering to get steamed up about them. He should just he ignored. If only the press would take no notice. The publicity they are giving him is all he wanted anyway. If he had a valid contribution to make, he should have made it to the Taylor Inquiry five years ago. Hillsborough won't go away. It happened and many people are still coming to terrm with it. It is right that we do remember it with respect and all the dignity we can muster. If other people would leave the matter alone, so would we. It isn't easy when people like Clough and McGovern insist on feeding off it like vultures.

Alan Cookson

Editor's Reply

I did eventually come round to the idea that Hillsborough could be used In a piece of fiction. All I had to do was look inside my house, to see what I considered 'entertaining'; comedians making jokes about Cancer (Bill Hicks, Denls leery) or King's Cross (Gerry Sadowitz); thrillers about serial killers ('Psycho and the novels of Thomas Harris) and numerous pop songs e.g. Kraftwork and Todd Rundgren singing about Hiroshima ( 'don't you ever forget' - thanks, Todd, we'll try not to!) and records by a band called the Dead Kennedys. Who the hell am I to call anyone else 'sick'? And, considering the number of films and plays that 'use' the Holocaust (Schindler's llst Is only one of 1005) who are we to say "Can't write about our disaster"? After all what's 96 people compared to 6 million?

Once It was finally screened, though, I could not believe how ham-fisted It all was. It led you to believe that a nondescript kliler had been coloured In by the author - that the disaster angle gave his character 'edge'. "Writers will use anything, they'll eat their own young", Dennis Potter once wrote, and I don't think McGovern Is any different. I hate all those 'police are thick and outsider solves the crime' series; Agatha Christle was the worst, and McGovern's 'Fitz' is just one of a long line of God figures, all-seeing and all-knowing. The series started well last year, because Adrian Dunbar is a great actor. Since then, It has become a one-hander; any decent lines, all the glory goes to Coltrane. He's a good actor who has built up a great deal of goowill from the public, but he can't carry a whole series. Especially one as badly written as this. One scene, where he provides a psychological profile of a young Asian woman, was so risible I couldn't uncurl my toes. Albie's lines weren't strong enough to elicit sympathy: ultimately, we were being 'represented' by a serial killer (and a racist one to boot) and that's probably how it will be seen. In the light of allegations that we were the killers in 1989, It was hardly helpful.

The portrayal of the police as too thick to be true won't cut much ice with the public. Once told by Fitz (natch) the killer wanted revenge for the 96 (when does anyone outside Liverpool over get that right?) and they were looking for a bald Scouser in Manchester. Sure enough, PC Pillock finds a bald Scouser, who says "I've had chemotherapy and I'm an Evertonian". Thank you sir, you're free to go - like fuck! Two words; Colin Stagg. After being fingered by a psychologist, Stagg couldn't be placed at the scene of Rachel Nickell's murder. Rather than lot him off, the police tried every trick going to arrest their man. People would watch Alble being let go, say "as if' and treat the rest of it (le the real truth about 1989) with contempt. At first, this seemed like an allegory of Duckinfield's incompetence. Since it wasn't followed up with the inevitable whitewash maybe I just imagined it? Of course, once Clough opened his big gob, 'Cracker' became an irrelevance. Press reviews were good, and sympathetic, but in the tidal wave of television would have been soon forgotten anyway. I think it was worth the attempt, but it came out all wrong. As for BC (apt considering his views), Alan and PTBAK have said all there is to say. They liked him, I never did. He has lost respect from some decent people. What he has done, and its stupid to deny it, is tap into a depth of feeling against ourselves and gained credence with a whole host of scabby bigots desperately anxious to have anyone confirm their prejudices. Is this bigotry anti-Scouser, anti-Liverpool fan, antf-football fan, or even just pro-police? It could be all four, who knows, but Clough had a gang of backers afterwards. The English mock the Gerrnans for their subservience to authority, but they're not much better. In some cases it's worse. Ouentin Crisp said "never ever say the police are liars'; we said it for 5 straight years, so now we have to take the-consequences. Despite the Birmingham 6, Guildford 4, Judith Ward, Stefan Kisko, Winston Sillcott, Zeebrugge, Marchioness, crashes during the signalmen's strike and new injustices (victims of contaminated blood transfusions will not be compensated, many cot deaths were needless etc) the English servility towards authority (especially the police) remains intact.

It's not as Iif the claim 'Liverpool people killed Liverpool people" can't be fought. It most certainly can, and the most damaging counter is this; why haven't the police charged us, then? They were fast enough packing 24 Liverpool fans off to Brussels. Because they know that if they went into court with the tissue of lies they presented to the Coroner (and in secret to the 'Scum') they'd be laughed out of it. Far better to let the smear merchants do the dirty work for them. They don't have to prove anything, then. PROVE that one pub poured 6,000 pints in an hour - a physical impossibility. PROVE that 10,000 fans were drunk since 20% of the victims (and possibly the crowd) were under drinking age, this means 50% of the adult Reds in Sheffield were drunk, utterly preposterous. PROVE the gate had been broken down - they didn't have the nerve to stick by this horrendous lie at the time. PROVE we urinated on 'brave cops' and robbed our own dead - again, no proof and no charges. PROVE all the 96 were dead by 3.15 - witnesses against this existed at the time, but were bullied into falsifying their evidence. PROVE that Duckenfield was too ill for disciplinary measures and how he could he smiling away at a golf course on 'The Cook Report', PROVE it was justifiable to allow his 2nd in command to also avoid disciplinary measures - though an ordinary criminal would have to answer charges, even if his/her gang had escaped. PROVE- they are trustworthy - despite having told so many obvious lies.

What we continually come up against is that some people want us to be guilty. Proof has nothing to do with it. Clough's one of them; explain his later remarks about half of Liverpool being unemployed, illiterate or out stealing hubcaps. The morons agreeing with him would no doubt say the same things. I'm not a 'Scouse Patriot'; I often think we let ourselves down, and as regards simple jokes, many are quite prepared to dish it out but a lot less willing to take it. I'm fed up with the Echo slagging off every comedian who takes a dig, eg, Frank Skinner, who it seems is only funny when he's calling Man U fans reptiles. But the Hillsborough stuff goes way beyond all that. It was a conspiracy, a cover-up to deny Justice and proper compensation - and people not only let ut happen, they positively celebrate ut. What's even worse us that the likes of Clough are considered 'brave'! Brave to suck up to authority, brave to lie, brave to reopen the wounds of defenceless people. It's not the kind of courage my grandfather would recognise if he were alive (he fought un the war, in Europe and Asia). He'd see a country where lies are truth, cowardice is bravery and 'taking responsibility' means smearing the Innocent and giving them no chance to defend themselves. He might oven wonder why he bothered fighting at all.

SK-in reply to Cracker and Crackers

Proud To Be A Kopite

Unfortunately, Hillsborough just refuses to go away. No-one should ever forget, but Brian Clough's loony comments, allegations about the police officers and 'Cracker' have all kept the story alive. I must say I always liked Clough; his style of play, his pisstakes of the media and his oddities. His book came as a triple shock, for it's contents and who was saying it (and the bastard journalist who helped him write it). We all know Clough got it horribly wrong, but WHY did he write it? To sell more copies? Unlikely. His account of League and European glory, some great sides, run-ins with the media and authority, allegations of racisrn and bungs etc was always going to sell very well, without the need to stir up nasty controversy like this. I also don't think that a man who punched his own spporters for no reason whatsoever has any right to comment on others behaviour, good or bad.

Then there is the possibility that he actually believes what he's written. Cloughies not known for keeping his mouth shut, but he didn't say anything I can remember, either on the day or after the Sun and Star printed their fiction or during Taylor's inquiry. If he feels so strongly about the issue, where the hell was he? There is no new evidenc for him to examine, and no study of the available evidence can possibly lead to his disgraceful conclusions, so that isn't an explanation either.

I do think the Sun was behind it. They never meant their 'apology', and their 'Loverpool story was so insensitively timed that it was almost certainly deliberate. Clough wrote for them for years, one of their top bullshitters worked on the book with him, so what better way to repeat their lies than in his book? Ckmgh knew in advance what effect it would have because he didn't arrange any signing sessions on Merseyside.

Quite why he should want to rake over the painful and sad memories all over again I don't know, but I do know it has tarnished forever someone who was a small beacon of originality and exaggerated honesty in a sport dominated by tired cliches and bullshit. All we can do is cheer Nigel a little more next time he plays and show we're above all that.

This rewriting of history comes in many forms. Take the following from a national newspaper.; "people were sopposed to be seated...the dictat that came so expensively, so justifiably, out of the horrors of Heysal, Bradford and Hillsborough" so there we have it; terraces not only caused Hillsborough (dodgy theory alert) but Bradford and Heysel as well. It's a bit like that episode of 'Red Dwarf', where the inquisitor eliminates all trace of 'them frorn history. If anyone bumps into George Orwell, tell him he was out by 10 years. 1994, his book should have been called. With all three of these dreadful days, we had the horror of watching events unfold on TV. We thought Bradford was caused by uncleared litter, a wooden stand and a dropped match. We thought Heysel was due to a lunatic fringe (on both sides - remember the Italian with the gun?), a crap stadium, poor ticket allocations, inept police and inept UEFA organisation. We were wrong apparently - terracing was to blame.

SO; remove the terracing and trouble will be less likely. Those of you who saw Villa's seated fans chasing the Turks across the pitch were therefore hallucinating, just like anyone who remembers City fans leave their seats and run to the Spurs fans seated at the other end. Anyone watching Millwall v Derby last season, or Florentina v Lazio (when a Lazio player was viciously cut by a coin) - you were hallucinating as well. This same journalist also reckoned that pictures of Bilbao fans climbing over the fences to celebrate their win over Newcastle on the pitch were 'reminiscent of scenes from Hillsborough'. Odd, I didn't notice anyone smiling, cheering or waving their scarves back in '89, nor did I see Bilbao fans lying lifeless on the pitch. The total stupidity and irrelevance of this comment is quite staggering, the sheer insensitivity defies belief. Quite what the point was I don't know and can't even guess at. It seemed so totally out of place with the expressions of joy and celebration at Bilbao that I can only assume the journalist saw something different at Hillsborough from the rest of us. Do they really think we are THAT stupid that even the evidence of our own eyes, or as in the case of two of the disasters our own experiences, count for nothing if some pompous journalist decides that he knows better? That we will slowly forget our understanding of those awful scenes and accept whatever we are told? Have fans really sunk so low that even journalists feel they can take the piss out of us?

What it means is that we must take every opportunity to set the record straight. No matter how trivial the offending line or quote may seem, challenge it. Write to them and tell them they are lying bastards - and why. At least it will remind certain people that we will not tolerate lies and smears and innuendo about us or Hillsborough, and that people who think we are such ignorant trash will not get our money for very long. Hopefully, it will also remind certain others that the campaign against the SUN and the STAR must go on.

It is now even clearer than it ever was - those stories were believed, and those responsible for it must pay. Quite what people in Europe still make of us I don't know, because while the original lies went round like wildfire the subsequent 'apology' is unlikely to have received reach coverage at all. The bad reputation might still be there. Complaints of our 'vendetta' and 'fanaticisrn' are totally out of place. Even if vve didn't owe it to the victirm (which we very definitely do) we owe it to ourselves, our standing as decent human beings is very much on the line here. I think we are about to find out who the real Liverpool fans are, and I have to say that Southern Reds seem to have a particular problem here. The number of fans I see on the train up from Euston who still read that crap is an absolute disgrace.

(thanks to the Forest fans who laid that wreath - after all that's been said, it was an extra -special gesture)