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Twenty-three years ago today 96 fans died at a ground whose safety certificate was ten years out of date, overseen by a police force whose preparations and response that day are publicly acknowledged (in Lord Justice Taylor's report) to have been inadequate. It might suit your allegiance or agenda to blame it on the Liverpool fans – “they were drunk”, “they turned up late”, “always the victims” – but that would be not only an enormous insult but a great disservice to supporters everywhere. Both now and then, the majority of regular match-going fans liked to have a pre-match drink rather than get into the ground an hour before kick-off. Both then and now, police and stewards are there to handle such situations. Lord Justice Taylor concluded there was nothing exceptional, unusual or untoward in the fans’ behaviour that day. What was exceptional was the failure of the police operation at the Leppings Lane end, which was not fit to host such events and had been the subject of a major scare at the Tottenham v Wolves semi-final eight years earlier http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jtzHVe2mEN0
Liverpool are a divisive club, but Hillsborough is one issue that should unite all football fans. What happened on April 15 1989 was and remains not just a tragedy but a disgrace. It is not always clear what form of justice or closure the bereaved are looking for, but they deserve every support in their search for the truth not only of what happened that day but of why that truth – as they believe and I, like many others, believe – has been concealed for the past 23 years.
http://www.guardian.co.uk/football/2009/apr/13/hillsborough-disaster-police-south-yorkshire-liverpool
http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2011/oct/17/hillsborough-disaster-legacy-lies
http://www.guardian.co.uk/football/2012/apr/12/hillsborough-battle-orgreave
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