Thursday, 13 September 2012

Hillsborough - A guest post from Mike Morris

Yesterday (12/09/12) The Hillsborough Independent Panel reported on their findings after reviewing all of the documents relating to the 1989 disaster. It has opened up wounds for many people. A fellow Liverpool fan from Hull asked if anyone would publish his thoughts and experiences of what happened on 15th April 1989 and subsequently.

I am proud to have offered Mike Morris the opportunity to write his story. I hope he found it cathartic. This is his story.

On the 15th April 1989 I went to a football match. It wasn't at Hillsborough, it was at Fellows Park, Walsall. I couldn't go to the FA Cup Semi Final as I was working as a radio reporter on a Second Division game between Walsall and Hull City. I was hoping to catch score updates while I worked and then watch Match of the Day when I got home. A few short minutes after kick off I heard that there had been crowd trouble at Hillsborough and play had been suspended. I shook my head when I heard that Liverpool fans had come onto the pitch and felt anger at what I believed was an idiotic pitch invasion. As the game I was watching continued little bits of information filtered through. First we heard that there had been deaths. Then there were numbers – 14, 25, 50. I found it difficult to believe them. That many people couldn't be killed at a football match. My game finished. I can't remember the score, but by then we were told that more than 90 people had died. I made my way to Birmingham New Street Station for the trip back to Hull. On the concourse there were Everton fans who's seen their side win their FA Cup semi final. You'd never have guessed they were going to Wembley. Most looked stunned, many were in tears while others rang home to try and get more information. I thought it would be a good idea to call my mum and let her know that I hadn't gone. When I told her I was safe she told me that my dad was at the game and in The Leppings Lane end, but was ok and unhurt. I don't know what I'd have done if I'd known he was there and I was aware of a sickness in my stomach as I continued my journey. When I got back to Hull I watched Match of the Day. There were no football highlights. Des Lynam wore a black tie and dispensed with his usual louche manner. I stared at the screen trying to take in what had happened. I felt like I should cry, but I was twenty with little knowledge of life. I could sympathise with those who'd lost sons and daughters, but didn't feel the loss in the same way. My Liverpool away top was sent to Sheffield with a friend the next day to be laid at Hillsborough with messages from fans from around the country.I could do that and somehow feel like I'd done something to help.

My dad went to Anfield the next day to pay his respects and count his blessings. We didn't speak about what had happened and what he'd seen for years. When he did talk it wasn't in a torrent. It took quite some time over a period of years for him to tell me what he'd seen. He'd not been to a Liverpool game for about 6 or 7 years prior to the semi final, but a neighbour got two tickets and asked if he wanted to go. They travelled across the Pennines together, but split up near the ground as they were in different parts of the stadium. When my dad got to the Leppings Lane end he said that there was a huge crowd of people trying to get in. As he headed in he became aware of just how busy it was. Men were pushed together and he said that one lad in front of him started panicking after being lifted off his feet by the wave of people . He pulled the kid's arms down by his side and tried to work his way backwards through the throng. My dad said that they were incredibly lucky to get out. The tide of supporters seemed to spit them out towards the exit rather than swallowing them up. The teenager bolted once he was free. Away from the ground, anywhere but in that crush. Away from the main body of supporters attempts were being made to save lives. Grey faces and desperation. My dad rant to a Police Sergeant and told him to get on his radio and call for help, “What f***ing radio?” he said. My dad walked away from the ground in a daze. His friend had watched the it all from the seats above the Leppings Lane terrace. Amazingly they found each other and headed home. It was only later that they discovered the scale of the disaster.

The loss of life was compounded by the insults, smears and lies print by The Sun the following week. The Taylor Report contradicted all of those claims, but the damage had been done. I've had numerous rows with people who said that the disaster wouldn't have happened if it wasn't for drunken ticketless supporters. Most Liverpool fans I know have had to ask the question “Have you read the Taylor Report”. Sometimes supporters have simply been ignorant of the facts and on other occasions their claims have been malicious, but The Sun and the concerted cover up by South Yorkshire Police are to blame for a narrative which accused the victims of being responsible for their own deaths and accused those who desperately tried to save them of robbing them and desecrating their bodies. That's tough enough for me to take as a Liverpool fan, but imagine how it must feel if you're the mother or father of a child who died. Even in death they were treated as criminal suspects. Children tested to see if they were drunk or if they had criminal records. The craven attempts by the police to push the blame away from themselves to the victims might have worked if it hadn't been for the quiet determination of campaigners to push for the truth. They brushed off accusations of “wallowing in grief” and dealt with the numerous setbacks to their cause. Finally the truth has been laid bare. It's now time for justice.

 You can follow Mike on Twitter @BaldyMemike.
You'll Never Walk Alone

Monday, 16 April 2012

96 - It's more than just a number.

Three years ago I wrote this post, to put down in words my experiences of being at Hillsborough on 15th April 1989. After writing the piece I went, with my brother, to the memorial service at Anfield. It seems that this service was a turning point.

It was the best attended service ever and as the then Culture, Media and Sport Secretary, Andy Burnham, stood up to read the governments thoughts, a crescendo of noise, chanting for "Justice for the 96", filled the vast stadium. A few days later I was engaged in a conversation with a longstanding and vociferous Liverpool fan. He was apoplectic about the treatment meted out to the minister.He was convinced that the incident had set back the justice campaign and made Liverpool fans look like the "professional victims" that they have been tagged as by rival fans.

However, Andy Burnham heard the chants. But more. He also listened. Before he was relieved of his position in the ministry he had started the process that would end up with the release of all papers relating to the disaster into the public domain. The Independent Hillsborough Panel, chaired by the Bishop of Liverpool and including such luminaries as Peter Sissons and Phil Scraton (if you ever need to know more about Hillsborough then find a copy of his book). This panel will release its findings, first to the families of the victims and then publicly, before the end of this year.

This report will also be a huge step in the process for Anne Williams who is campaigning to have the inquest into her son Kevin's death reopened. His case is at the heart of Justice for the 96. It highlights the co-ordinated smear campaign that the victims, survivors and families have had to endure for 23 years.

It also highlights something that crystallised to me at the memorial service today. At the end of the service, the congregation once again chanted for "Justice for the 96". I watched the service again at home. At the end of the LFC TV coverage this tribute was played. It was the first time I had seen a photograph of each of the 96 victims individually. I have seen montages of their faces many times before, but as I sat and watched the tribute I realised that each of the victims have their own story. Each is a son or daughter. Some will be mums or dads, brothers or sisters. The things that unities them is their love for Liverpool FC and their tragic end. But there are so many other things that separate them. Their taste in music, favourite food, ages. A million differences in 96 individuals. The inquests lumped all of these individuals into one group and assumed that they all died from exactly the same set of circumstances and exactly the same injuries. The evidence that Ann Williams has regarding Kevin's circumstances certainly point to his circumstances being different to those offered by the coroner at the original inquest. If there is one exception, then why not 95 other exceptions?

Liverpool's anthem is You'll Never Walk Alone. The Hillsborough families have always felt that they never walked alone, but for the first time in 23 years, there seems to be some genuine hope in our hearts as well.

In the last twelve months there have been two debates in parliament regarding Hillsborough. One in support of a new inquest for Kevin Williams held in Westminster Hall in which the Attorney General gave hope of a new inquest if the Independent Panel reported that this was the right direction to go in, and a general Hillsborough debate in the house of Commons presided over by the Home Secretary. During that debate, Steve Rotherham read out the names of each of the victims.

So if it is good enough for Hansard, it is good enough for me.

  • John Alfred Anderson (62)
  • Colin Mark Ashcroft (19)
  • James Gary Aspinall (18)
  • Kester Roger Marcus Ball (16)
  • Gerard Bernard Patrick Baron (67)
  • Simon Bell (17)
  • Barry Sidney Bennett (26)
  • David John Benson (22)
  • David William Birtle (22)
  • Tony Bland (22)
  • Paul David Brady (21)
  • Andrew Mark Brookes (26)
  • Carl Brown (18)
  • David Steven Brown (25)
  • Henry Thomas Burke (47)
  • Peter Andrew Burkett (24)
  • Paul William Carlile (19)
  • Raymond Thomas Chapman (50)
  • Gary Christopher Church (19)
  • Joseph Clark (29)
  • Paul Clark (18)
  • Gary Collins (22)
  • Stephen Paul Copoc (20)
  • Tracey Elizabeth Cox (23)
  • James Philip Delaney (19)
  • Christopher Barry Devonside (18)
  • Christopher Edwards (29)
  • Vincent Michael Fitzsimmons (34)
  • Thomas Steven Fox (21)
  • Jon-Paul Gilhooley (10)
  • Barry Glover (27)
  • Ian Thomas Glover (20)
  • Derrick George Godwin (24)
  • Roy Harry Hamilton (34)
  • Philip Hammond (14)
  • Eric Hankin (33)
  • Gary Harrison (27)
  • Stephen Francis Harrison (31)
  • Peter Andrew Harrison (15)
  • David Hawley (39)
  • James Robert Hennessy (29)
  • Paul Anthony Hewitson (26)
  • Carl Darren Hewitt (17)
  • Nicholas Michael Hewitt (16)
  • Sarah Louise Hicks (19)
  • Victoria Jane Hicks (15)
  • Gordon Rodney Horn (20)
  • Arthur Horrocks (41)
  • Thomas Howard (39)
  • Thomas Anthony Howard (14)
  • Eric George Hughes (42)
  • Alan Johnston (29)
  • Christine Anne Jones (27)
  • Gary Philip Jones (18)
  • Richard Jones (25)
  • Nicholas Peter Joynes (27)
  • Anthony Peter Kelly (29)
  • Michael David Kelly (38)
  • Carl David Lewis (18)
  • David William Mather (19)
  • Brian Christopher Mathews (38)
  • Francis Joseph McAllister (27)
  • John McBrien (18)
  • Marion Hazel McCabe (21)
  • Joseph Daniel McCarthy (21)
  • Peter McDonnell (21)
  • Alan McGlone (28)
  • Keith McGrath (17)
  • Paul Brian Murray (14)
  • Lee Nicol (14)
  • Stephen Francis O'Neill (17)
  • Jonathon Owens (18)
  • William Roy Pemberton (23)
  • Carl William Rimmer (21)
  • David George Rimmer (38)
  • Graham John Roberts (24)
  • Steven Joseph Robinson (17)
  • Henry Charles Rogers (17)
  • Colin Andrew Hugh William Sefton (23)
  • Inger Shah (38)
  • Paula Ann Smith (26)
  • Adam Edward Spearritt (14)
  • Philip John Steele (15)
  • David Leonard Thomas (23)
  • Patrik John Thompson (35)
  • Peter Reuben Thompson (30)
  • Stuart Paul William Thompson (17)
  • Peter Francis Tootle (21)
  • Christopher James Traynor (26)
  • Martin Kevin Traynor (16)
  • Kevin Tyrrell (15)
  • Colin Wafer (19)
  • Ian David Whelan (19)
  • Martin Kenneth Wild (29)
  • Kevin Daniel Williams (15)
  • Graham John Wright (17)
Rest in Peace

Tuesday, 13 March 2012


Here's another entry into Julia's 100 Word Challenge for Adults. This weeks prompt was, "...but I turned it off..." I suggest you pop over to Julia's Place where you can find all the much better attempts than this one.

 Every night Charlie heard the same words. He was eight now. A big boy. He didn’t need telling EVERY TIME that he shouldn’t leave things turned on. They had done about eco education at school and knew all about global warming.

So needless to say he was feeling very confused at the moment. What had he done wrong? He was just saving the planet for future generations. Well that is what Mr Ward had said about saving energy. So why was everyone so upset?

“But I turned it off”, he protested.

“But Grandad’s life support machine needs to stay on son”, replied his dad tearfully.

Saturday, 25 February 2012

Rock 'n' Roll

It's been a while since I blogged and I thought I would resurrect my writing with an entry into Julia's 100 Word Challenge for Adults. This weeks prompt was, in honour of Shrove Tuesday, "...the flip side..." I suggest you pop over to Julia's Place where you can find all the much better attempts than this one.

The crackles were somehow comforting. Once the sneezing fit had subsided Graham and Kim had slumped down in their battered but oh so comfy sofa. They’d spent the afternoon clearing the loft, ready for the conversion. Well that was the idea anyway. Of course, on their first sojourn up the ladder for many years, each box opened was a treasure trove of memories.

“Rock ‘n’ Roller Disco,” sighed Graham. “The first album I ever bought. Side one was the best. The Flying Lizards, the Jags and this one by Bill Lovelady.”

“What’s on the flip side?” asked Kim.

“BA Robertson.”