Newsletter #1851

On the 6th November 1915 City played their 888th match. It was a war-time (Lancashire Section) game against Rochdale. We won 2-0 thanks to two goals from Horace Barnes. Nearly 11 years later, on 18th September 1926, we played our 1,346th game, in the Second Division, at Reading. We lost 0-1.

Since then these two teams have, alphabetically, sat side-by-side on our list of opponents. Next Tuesday, the 18th October 2012, we play match number 5,430 and it will see these two old clubs separated by another name. Real Madrid.

In between we play Stoke City. Their Nemesis in the 2011 FA Cup Final and featuring Michael Owen, our nemesis too frequently! Not to mention Mr P Crouch – Champions’ League and “Wonder” goal are both too fresh.

Quite a few days lie ahead of us. The interesting thing to me is that there is little hyperbole about playing Real Madrid. There is no ‘biggest game in our history’ hyperbole. It, kind of, feels like we belong. What a strange experience.

Let’s go and win it!

Just one article today. The 15th April 1989 saw us have a miserable day in Blackburn. It was also a day that has had a profound impact on the City of Liverpool and football. Phil B’s article is worthy of your time.

Next Game: Stoke City, Britannia Stadium, 15 September 2012, 15.00pm


Twenty three years ago I went to Blackburn to see City play an important promotion match from the old Division 2 (Ed – as did I). Our campaign had been stuttering and our team failed to turn up that day and trailed 3-0 at half time. As disappointed as I was, like many I turned on my portable radio as I eagerly wanted to know what the score was in the FA Cup Semi Finals: it was Everton vs. Norwich at Villa Park, and Liverpool vs. Nottingham Forest at Hillsborough.

There was no football talk. The late, great commentator Peter Jones spoke in hushed, controlled emotional terms that he had unconfirmed reports that 10 people had died. One death is too many but it was soon to be clear that it was a tragedy on a much larger scale. It was a numbing experience for many of us who have no direct connection to the victims. Football wasn’t important any more on that day.

It has been obvious since 1989 that there has been a police cover up over the tragic events of April 15th 1989 when 96 people were killed in the Hillsborough disaster. What has not been available is an official account, detailing the truth and the scale of the cover up. The report that has finally been published this week shows the authorities’ failings to be even worse than many of us thought, and their cover up to be on a much larger scale than most people believed.

My heart goes out to the families and friends of the victims of the Hillsborough disaster. As a parent I can only imagine what they went through and have experienced since that sad day in 1989. This disaster could have happened to any football fan. It should not have taken 23 years for the truth to be confirmed that South Yorkshire Police and South Yorks Ambulance Service covered up their failings and lied. The police failed to protect the fans, and made decisions that caused those deaths and South Yorkshire Ambulance authority did not do enough to save lives, using their catastrophic “3:15 cut-off” time. We now learn that 41 people could potentially have been saved had they had responded adequately.

Police officers changed their stories to put themselves in a better light and besmirch the Liverpool fans. We have now learned that 164 police statements were amended. The report found 116 of the police statements identified for “substantive amendment” had been “amended to remove or alter comments unfavourable to South Yorkshire Police”. South Yorkshire Police tried to impugn the reputation of dead fans. South Yorkshire Police falsely accused fans of being drunk, violent and stealing from the injured. They did blood tests to determine the level of alcohol from dead fans including children in a failed attempt to damage the reputations of the victims and shift blame. It is truly sickening.

I lived in Sheffield for many years, including at that time, and our elected MP (and I must stress that I have never voted for him or his party) was Irvine Patnick (Conservative). This latest report revealed that Irvine Patnick shamefully actively participated along with Police in the smear campaign, briefing the Whites News Agency with defamatory comments about fans. What followed was a systemic cover up by the police and political establishment. There has been a sustained effort over the years to damage the reputations of fans. Police officers’ statements that made the police look culpable were removed and negative comments about the Liverpool fans were exaggerated. Changing such statements broke the law. Many officers who had made negative comments that could be seen as negative about South Yorkshire Police’s handling of the disaster either complied or were systematically intimidated into changing their accounts. Some refused.

Retired Officer Norman Lewis recounted in 2000 that he asked his supervisor at Hillsborough for advice what to do and received no help. South Yorkshire Police subsequently asked him to remove the statement from his account that said: “At no time was I instructed by supervisory officers what to do”.

As more people come forward now they feel safe enough there is a possibility that statements were changed without the officers knowing. There may be more unlawful behaviour than is currently known and this is worthy of further investigation.

Margaret Thatcher’s Conservative government was also responsible for stopping the truth being known and wrongly blaming innocent football fans. It was easy to give us football fans a bad name then. South Yorks Police and Thatcher’s Government were quick to do that. Shame on them.

The new report tells us that Thatcher knew that South Yorkshire Police were being deceitful of their accounts of Hillsborough (she had documentary evidence at her disposal) and yet she and her government did nothing to stop this. Thatcher’s government was complicit in perpetrating the lies about what happened and the lies blaming football fans for the disaster.

We, as football fans were treated like a sub-human species regularly by police on duty in the 80s when they were supposed to protecting us. South Yorkshire Police had done Margaret Thatcher’s dirty work for her in crushing the miners’ strike and other industrial disputes. It was in Thatcher’s interest to keep them onside, and they were allowed to act with impunity: unchecked. They thought they were untouchable. In another conflict of interests, the conduct of South Yorkshire Police at Hillsborough disaster was investigated by West Midlands Police force, which had its own corruption issues, and was notorious in the 80s and 90s for its less than fair treatment of football fans. How convenient it must have been for South Yorkshire Police and Thatcher’s government. We now learn that West Midlands Police “knew of statements changes”.

Subsequent governments failed to reveal the truth. They did not do anywhere near enough. Shame on them too, even if they were not deliberately complicit.

The report finally confirms the truth. In fact it confirms more culpability in the authorities than many of us suspected. Not only are the police to blame. Sheffield Wednesday are culpable for the dangerous state of their ground, as are Sheffield City Council who did not take safety seriously enough. Hillsborough did not have an up to date security certificate. We can count ourselves lucky that as visiting fans weren’t killed as we had all been visiting an unsafe ground (and it probably wasn’t the only one). How the authorities including the Football Association allowed this beggars belief.

We’ve known since 1989 that the Liverpool fans were wrongly housed in the smaller Leppings Lane End (while Forest fans were in the much larger Kop End) when they had more demand for tickets. Liverpool FC requested the Kop end but this fell on deaf ears at the FA and South Yorkshire Police.

We’ve also known for 23 years that the Police controller panicked and the gates were opened with fatal consequences, but the fans were unfairly blamed. The senior police office on duty at Hillsborough, David Duckenfield, told then FA Chief Executive Graham Kelly the lie that the Liverpool fans had kicked the gates open, and this untruth was made public. The verdict from the Coroner Stefan Popper (who in a complete conflict of interest was employed by Sheffield City Council) was “accidental death”, when it

should have been manslaughter.

The police and authorities told lies about drunken and ticketless fans. Thereport says there is no evidence to suggest that is the case. If therewere ticketless fans then it was, as at any game, not significant.

The Prime Minister David Cameron has had to apologise for the “double injustice”. Ed Miliband apologised for Labour Government’s failings to do more. The current Chief Commissioner of South Yorkshire Police has apologised, as have Sheffield City Council, Sheffield Wednesday Football Club at last, the FA. Apologies are one thing and some say they ring follow, but they speak volumes and admit failure.

The persistence of the Hillsborough families is truly admirable. I can never forget the Hicks family. Trevor Hicks and his wife lost two teenage daughters and yet their dignity and is particularly admirable.

Anyone who doubts what I say or thinks it is Liverpool’s “victim culture” should read the latest report or a summary of it. Then put yourself in the position of one of the parents whose children were killed that day and had to put up with 23 years of lies and cover ups and having your dead children blamed for what happened to them and others.

The government must scrap the original findings and order a new inquiry. The guilty must be prosecuted, wherever they are in society, right to the very top to the most junior person. Only then can we say there has been Justice for the 96 and their families and friends.

Phil Banerjee (<philban65(at)>


2 September 2012

Liverpool            0 - 2 Arsenal             44,932
Newcastle United     1 - 1 Aston Villa         48,245
Southampton          2 - 3 Manchester United   31,609

1 September 2012

West Ham United      3 - 0 Fulham              33,458
Swansea City         2 - 2 Sunderland          20,350
Tottenham Hotspur    1 - 1 Norwich City        36,142
West Bromwich Albion 2 - 0 Everton             25,383
Wigan Athletic       2 - 2 Stoke City          16,247
Manchester City      3 - 1 Queens Park Rangers

League table as at 4 September 2012

                    P  GD Pts
 1 Chelsea          3   6   9
 2 Swansea City     3   8   7
 3 West Brom A.     3   5   7
 4 Manchester City  3   3   7
 5 Manchester Utd   3   1   6
 6 Everton          3   1   6
 7 West Ham Utd     3   1   6
 8 Arsenal          3   2   5
 9 Wigan Athletic   3   0   4
10 Newcastle Utd    3  -1   4
11 Fulham           3   1   3
12 Stoke City       3   0   3
13 Sunderland       2   0   2
14 Tottenham H.     3  -1   2
15 Norwich City     3  -5   2
16 Reading          2  -2   1
17 Aston Villa      3  -3   1
18 Liverpool        3  -5   1
19 QPR              2  -7   1
20 Southampton      3  -4   0

With thanks to Football 365

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Newsletter #1851