Out of respect for the families, I had no intention of commenting on the issue of Hillsborough primarily because everything I’ve had to say has been said in print many times.
However, having received a number of mails about it over the last 24 hours I’ve had a read back over some of the things I’ve written over the years some of which, it’s fair to say, have attracted a degree of criticism. Albeit primarily from people who have no concept of what it was like to be a travelling fan in the mid-80’s.
So let me say one thing, I stand by every single word and my conclusion remains the same. Because however you look at it, the ultimate responsibility for Hillsborough lies not with the thin blue line, the government or even Kelvin McKenzie, it lies with those of us who followed the game back then.
Specifically, everyone who ever threw a punch at a game, charged across a terrace, invaded a pitch, smashed up a high street or yes, who steamed a gate because they didn’t have a ticket.
It was the fault of the fans who laid waste to Europe whilst following England or their club in the 80’s, who caused the tragedy at Heysel or who were involved in any one of the countless football related deaths which had happened in previous years. Because they, we, are the reason why football pitches were surrounded by horrific steel fences and the reason why, on April 15th 1989, the police had become so jaundiced against football fans that they couldn’t or wouldn’t recognise the difference between crushing and fighting.
Yes, there were clearly huge flaws in the police operation and it is about time that those responsible were held to account and that the families gain the justice that they have so valiantly fought for. But those of us who either played our part in dragging the game down to that point or who simply sat back and watched while others did it are equally guilty.
And we should all feel slightly ashamed of ourselves today. I know I do.
RIP the 96.