The Hillsborough disaster of April 1989 shook British football to its core, but such was the terrible state of Britain’s decrepit, overcrowded, poorly policed terraces that many fans had long predicted such a disaster would unfold.
But even after the fire at Bradford City’s ground in 1985, whenever such fears were raised they were given short shrift. Prior to the semi-final at which 96 of his club’s fans died, Liverpool’s own chief executive, Peter Robinson, contacted the Football Association asking them not to locate the Liverpool supporters in the much smaller Leppings Lane End . If he was ignored, what chance did ordinary fans have in articulating their concerns?
The authorities were animated more by the spectre of hooliganism – and this loomed large in attitudes towards football fans. Supporters were not to be listened to but to be controlled. The sins of the few meant that football fans were collectively caged like animals in creaking, crumbling pens surrounded by perimeter fencing.
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