Alan Pattullo: Horrors of Hillsborough startlingly laid bare
IT WAS not difficult to obtain some perspective on Craig Levein’s problems and the frustrations of the Scotland supporters last week.
The publication of an independent panel’s inquiry into Hillsborough laid bare all sorts of horrors that were the lot of the football fan back in the 1980s and before.
No wonder that incidents of hooliganism would erupt when fans were herded like animals into steel pens and where the preferred method of dealing with crowd management was brute force. It gives great relief to know that the campaigning by family members of those who perished means that whatever stain remained on the character of the Liverpool fans following Hillsborough has been removed.
The report is required reading and impossible to complete in just one sitting but one piece of video evidence stands out so far. It is shaky but comprehensive footage of the layout of the Leppings Lane End, filmed in the very recent aftermath of the tragedy. Litter, scarves and flowers are still strewn around the scene.
Startlingly, the film shows just how close the police report tower was to the disaster’s epicentre. Yet, the sight which holds the strongest charge is of a groundsman going about his duties and pushing a mower up and down the pitch in the background. Despite the deaths, the grass grows. It brought to mind the peerless Peter Jones and a clip that featured heavily on Twitter last week.
No sports commentator can be expected to find the words to accompany disaster on such a grand scale, but Jones, who collapsed and later died while reporting on the Oxford and Cambridge boat race less than a year later, managed it. Signing off from BBC radio’s Sport on Two programme on 15 April 1989, he fixes on the stewards picking up the personal belongings of the spectators. In mellifluous Welsh tones, he describes the “the red and white scarves of Liverpool, the red bobble hats of Liverpool, and red and white rosettes of Liverpool. And nothing else. . . and the sun shines now.”
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