Hillsboro and Heysel

Discussion in 'Prem talk, Those Other Leagues, and International' started by HatterDon, Apr 17, 2014.

  1. HatterDon

    HatterDon Moderator

    Mar 18, 2006
    Peoples Republic of South Texas
    I'm sure that several of you have watched the 30-30 coverage of Hillsboro and the scapegoating of the Liverpool victims in 1989. It's why all matches this past weekend began at 7 minutes after the hour. Anyway, if you did watch it, you might have wondered what have motivated The Sun newspaper to print lies about drunken Liverpool fans:

    a. robbing the corpses of fellow supporters
    b. urinating on police officers carrying the injured to safety
    c. beating up a police officer who was applying mouth-to-mouth resuscitation on a victim

    None of this was remotely true, but it was printed almost immediately after the disaster. Why would the press do this? It makes little sense unless you've lived in England for at least some of the last 30 years. Tabloid newspapers are not expected to be "fair and balanced." The Daily Mirror was [and may still be] the house organ of the Labour Party. It filters everything from the left wing perspective. The Sun was created to be its Tory mirror image. Both papers feature topless women and salacious stories and, once in a while, real news, but both papers exist primarily as means to promote the politics of a party.

    Most of the papers in England are politically biased, and most of them express this bias by shamelessly promoting their favored group of pols. The Sun was different. It supported the Tories not by promoting their philosophies but by denigrating Labour, regions that support Labour, and people that vote Labour. Liverpool in 1989 was solidly Labour and that's the major reason why Tory industrialization during the Thatcher era bypassed Liverpool and other Lancashire and Yorkshire Socialist strongholds. As the South got richer and richer the North got poorer and poorer. Not comfortable with saying that Labour voters in the north were deluded, the Sun and other Rupert Murdoch papers attacked them whenever possible as sub-human thugs.

    So, the main reason why Liverpool supporters where accused of these horrific activities is because Liverpool is Labour and it was necessary for The Sun to show just how sub-human Labour voters were. That was why it happened. The only surprise in the Sun's disgusting conduct is that they didn't hesitate to seize on the deaths of 94 people -- soon to be 95 and eventually 96 -- as an appropriate occasion for more regional and political hatred, even after it was refuted.

    The reason I'm pointing this out, is that Murdoch is still in the business of supporting his favored political party -- this time in the US -- by the same means. That is, they don't preach how wonderful the GOP is, they instead attack everything associated with the Democratic party including attempting to label Democratic voters as subhuman. Murdoch comes from a culture that doesn't require the press to report the truth or even to tell it. Everything that happens is not a cause for celebration or for sadness or even for outrage; rather, it is an opportunity to attack the political party that Murdoch does NOT support.

    The politics of hate has worked very well in England. In the south -- including SW6 -- no team and no city is hated as much as Liverpool. The favorite chant of any club hosting Liverpool is the ironic version of Liverpool's anthem, "You'll never work again." Any foul by a northern club's player on a London-based player results in the chant "You dirty northern bastard." So inured are Southerners to this hatred of the north, that even Fulham supporters on the left of the political spectrum engage in this "Let's hate the north because of their politics" stuff. I don't think that any but a small minority of southerners recognize the success of the Murdoch press and its methods when they take part in the thoughtless trashing of the North.

    And, the reason I'm posting this, is that Murdoch's methods of dismissing, denigrating, and outright hating of Democrats and liberals is succeeding very rapidly in America because -- unlike our Brit cousins -- we are not used to newspapers and television news programs purposely telling us lies and whipping up hate.

    As Matt said today during our non-burger, non-brew one hour phone conversation, he noticed the same sort of stories about Liverpool supporters at Heysel robbing, urinating on cops, etc. were raised in the national and European press and were just as baseless.

    So, when you watch the Hillsboro libel and coverup, remember the role that Murdoch and his Newscorp took in it and continue to look for it on a television network near you.

    Microphone drop, storm off, await angry responses from
    Ms. Maureen
  2. timmyg

    timmyg Well-Known Member

    Nov 20, 2006
    Eh, not an angry response, but will say:

    • That docu was numbing
    • Here's a list of other stadium tragedies, of which most don't have as vociferous memorial campaigns: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Category:Stadium_disasters
    • One thing that bugs me about Hillsbrough and the whole JFT96 campaign is a certain declination, if not refusal, to put the events into any sort of context (like you did Don). The Sun printed outright lies, yes, but the lies weren't totally out of the realm of possibility--hence how effective they were. Football in the 80s was a mess. Read Among the Thugs. , crowd troubles were nothing out of the ordinary. Yet bringing this up always seems to negate the tragedy, when it really shouldn't. It doesn't excuse the Sun's behavior, or negate the fact NINETY SIX people died.
    • When you say, "dismissing, denigrating, and outright hating of Democrats and liberals..." I'd counter that the same level of vitriol is directed at Republicans, conservatives, etc. Don't believe me? Come look at my FB and/or twitter feed. Or read that Pew Research study on Cable News. It's all sh*t.
    • When's *our* hour-long phone conversation?!?!
  3. SoCalJoe

    SoCalJoe Well-Known Member

    Sep 5, 2006
    Walnut, CA
    I like to stay in the stands and be entertained by the political volleys sent back and forth on this site, and since I'm part of the disillusioned middle that finds both parties lacking on every conceivable front, my comments will be mostly about the 30 for 30 film. I've read a few articles about the tragedy, but watching that was 2 hours of powerful film making that touched every emotion (I'd never seen the footage of that day). The background story starting with the new police chief with no experience involving the football stadium being put into place 3 weeks before to the match, to the bottleneck of an entry to that stand, to the despicable decision to test blood alcohol levels of the children was as Timmy says 'numbing'. Always find it interesting in the aftermath of events that they become political as soon as people start questioning the validity of reports (see recent documentary about TWA Flight 800)
  4. nevzter

    nevzter Well-Known Member

    Mar 5, 2007
    A City by a Bay
    That 30 for 30 was quality, probably the best I've seen. It had tears welling in my eyes at certain points of the story, which the director made so much more human than simply hearing the tragic number "96."

    And one more thing: stand down, Margaret, stand down please, stand down Margaret.
  5. AggieMatt

    AggieMatt Well-Known Member

    Jan 20, 2008
    Alamo City, Texas
    As I said in the chat, I was about 6 weeks from graduating high school when Hillsborough happened. However, my first recollection of hearing about it didn't come until I'd started following the Prem many years later. Today, with 24/7 cable news channels and the net, that would be impossible. Amazing how much times have changed in that regard in such a short period.

    I side with Joe on the politics issue. I don't know the politics of England, nor do I really care to. I understand Don mentioning them in an attempt to provide context, but I think there were other driving issues as well. The story didn't start with the media. It started when Duckenfield chose to lie to cover his ass. Would the paper have ignored his statements and blamed fans if he'd told the truth? We'll never know. One question though. If Yorkshire is Labour, why would the Sun then knowingly help the Yorkshire police and politicians cover up their negligence in favor of blaming fans from a predominantly Labour city? That part doesn't make sense.

    The class system and more to the point, the hangovers from it, are much more prevalent in England than we're accustomed to in the States. Football, being the working man's game, was essentially the red-headed stepchild. As a result, decisions made about the sport and, more specifically, it's policing, didn't necessarily get the thoughtful consideration that they merited. Fences were erected between the terraces and the pitch to cut down on pitch invasions. Bullpen fencing was added within the terraces, largely in response to the Heysel tragedy in 85. These decisions were often made and implemented quickly with little consideration for fan safety. Grounds were allowed to erode and fall into disrepair. And as the documentary stated, policing was centered more on crowd control and preventing hooliganism than safety. Even the numerous inquests into Hillsborough after the fact seemed to be brushed aside and not given any consideration.

    And then, as Timmy points out, you had the hooligan factor. I've read the stomach turning "Among the Thugs", watched "Football Fight Club" and several other documentaries on the subject. By 89, people were quite fed up with the violence and property damage associated with football hooligans and matchdays. As a result, fans made for easy targets and salacious stories of their conduct were more believable due to those perceptions. After watching the 30 for 30, I went through and read up on Heysel, Bradford and Ibrox since those are the tragedies most often mentioned when Hillsborough comes up. That's when I saw the same, "beating up cops administering cpr", "urinating on police", etc claims repeated following Heysel. They're shocking and I'm sure they helped sell papers. According to the 30 for 30, they said those accounts were given by some police and, since they'd been peddled before, I can see why the paper would run with them and the public would believe them. The ironic thing is, if you watch the footage, most of the fans saved were being pulled out by other fans, not police.

    Now, Heysel was clearly a hooligan caused event. However, from the documentary and the footage, it doesn't appear Hillsborough was. Rather it was a case of negligence. Are the fans accountable in some sense for packing in and contributing to the crush? Probably to an extent. But it's easy to see how you could unwittingly be caught up in the surge and the chaos w/o a means of escape. Or, as stated in the documentary, thinking once through to the terraces, that you'd be able to move sideways to find space, only to discover that option wasn't there. Unfortunately, it was all preventable with proper policing and stewarding.

    So while I'm not saying politics didn't play a part in the coverage and aftermath, I don't think they were the only factor. Just like the disaster itself, it was an unfortunate combination of many factors coming together.

    Back to the film. I thought it was very powerful, sad and shocking. It gave me a much greater appreciation for the way security is handled at sporting events here. I've never once felt endangered and I've been to just about every pro, minor league & college sport in cities across the country.

    In the papers, they showed part of a published list of names and their alcohol consumption and age. I paused it to see what it said and apparently 80 mg was equivalent to 2 pints or 1 1/2 glasses of wine. The overwhelming majority of the names listed were at or under that 80 mg. So I'm a bit surprised the blame on drunkenness gained any traction. I'm 6' 195 and 2 pints won't get me a buzz, much less cause me to act unusually. I just found that odd and thought that article made a better case of alcohol not being a factor, than being a cause.

    Also, from one of the British papers they showed on screen, there was an article with "Soccer" in the title. I'm not sure how the myth started, that we're responsible for the word and, that it's usage in lieu of football is some sort of sacrilege. But there's further evidence that it's nonsense.
  6. HatterDon

    HatterDon Moderator

    Mar 18, 2006
    Peoples Republic of South Texas
    point of reference, I said "Lancashire and Yorkshire Socialist strongholds." Not all Yorkshire falls into this camp. The Yorkshire equivalent of Liverpool during the Thatcher Era was Bradford. There were and are parts of Yorkshire that are solidly Tory.
  7. jumpkutz

    jumpkutz Well-Known Member

    Sep 24, 2011
    Louisville, KY
    I've watched and read probably a small fraction of the material out there about this subject, but I can tell you this. The most poignant moments from our trip were the minute silences before the kickoffs at the two
    matches we attended. You could've heard a pin drop at the Cottage, and the roar at the conclusion made the hair on the back of neck stand up. At Wembley, a light smattering of applause began about 10-15 seconds into it, and the resulting crescendo to all hands in the stadium clapping loudly was goose bump city as well.
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