Alan McDougall, “Tanked up Yobs” and “Self-Pity City”. Deconstructing the Myths of the Hillsborough Disaster in:

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STADION, Volume 43 (2019), Issue 1, ISSN: 0172-4029, ISSN online: 0172-4029, https://doi.org/10.5771/0172-4029-2019-1-58

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“Tanked up Yobs” and “Self-Pity City”. Deconstructing the Myths of the Hillsborough Disaster Alan McDougall* Abstract. On 15 April 1989, Liverpool FC played Nottingham Forest in an FA Cup semifinal at the Hillsborough Stadium in Sheffield in northern England. Catastrophic errors by the police and other organisations led to the deaths of 96 Liverpool supporters, crushed against the perimeter fences on the Leppings Lane terrace. Though the horrific facts of the disaster were quickly and widely known, they were lost beneath another narrative, promoted by the police, numerous politicians, and large sections of the media. This narrative blamed the disaster on “tanked up yobs”: drunk and aggressive Liverpool supporters, who turned up late and forced their way into the ground. Over the subsequent years and decades, as Hillsborough campaigners vainly sought justice for the disaster’s victims in a series of trials and inquests, the destructive allegation remained in the public realm. It was reinforced by establishment dismissal of Liverpool as a “self-pity city”, home to a community incapable of accepting official verdicts or of leaving the past in the past. This essay uncovers the history of the myths of the Hillsborough disaster. It first shows how these myths were established – how false narratives, with powerful backers, shifted responsibility for the disaster from the police to supporters, despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary. It then examines how these myths were embedded in public discourse – how Liverpool was demonised as an aggressively sentimental city where people refused to admit to “killing their own”. It finally analyses how these myths were overturned through research, media mobilisation, and grassroots activism, a process that culminated in the 2016 inquest verdict, which ruled that the 96 Hillsborough victims were unlawfully killed. In doing so, the essay shows how Hillsborough became a key event in modern British history, influencing everything from stadium design to government legislation. Keywords. Hillsborough disaster; football (soccer); Liverpool FC; myth; policing. On 15 April 1989, Liverpool FC played Nottingham Forest in an FA Cup semi-final at the Hillsborough Stadium in Sheffield in northern England. Multiple and catastrophic organisational failings by the police, ambulance services, stadium owners, and Sheffield city council led to the deaths of 96 Liverpool supporters, crushed and asphyxiated against the perimeter fences on the Leppings Lane terrace. The facts of what happened were immediately and widely known. There were almost 53,000 eyewitnesses to the tragedy, many of whom were Liverpool supporters. Some barely escaped the crush in the central pens (Pens 3 and 4) at the Leppings Lane end. Others made stretchers from advertising hoardings and rushed injured fans to paramedics, as police officers stood by helplessly. In the weeks after the disaster, statements to police, as well as letters to newspapers, Liverpool FC, and the Football Association (FA), presented a consistent picture. There were graphic and moving accounts of the fatal pressure in the overcrowded central pens: “a huge push […] It got heavier and heavier”; “Crush * University of Guelph, Ontario, Canada – amcdouga@uoguelph.ca. Stadion, Bd. 43, 1/2019, S. 58 – 75, DOI: 10.5771/0172-4029-2019-1-58 became unbearable. Unable to move arms at all”.1 Most fans, it was clear, had behaved impeccably. The assessment of one accountant and Liverpool supporter, in a letter to Liverpool manager Kenny Dalglish on 20 April, was typical: “There was no evidence of any drunken behaviour [...] I saw no looting or theft. I saw no Policeman being attacked”. In contrast, the response from the South Yorkshire Police, the organisation responsible for policing the match, was – as the same correspondent, again typically, noted – “minimal and inadequate”.2 Far too many supporters were allowed into the central pens. There was chaos and indecision once the scale of the disaster became evident – and no clear emergency plan. As one of those lucky enough to escape from Pen 4 concluded: “the appalling failure of the police and ground staff to respond to the desperate cries of the crowd will haunt me for a long time”.3 Yet, from the outset, what happened on that sunny April afternoon was buried beneath a different narrative. The UEFA President Jacques Georges quickly blamed the disaster on “people’s frenzy to enter the stadium come what may, whatever the risk to the lives of others”. Liverpool supporters, Georges concluded, were “like beasts waiting to charge into the arena”. What happened on 15 April “was not far from hooliganism”.4 Letters to the FA from around the country, including from Arsenal and Everton fans, condemned Georges’ statement. It was, one correspondent from Middlesex angrily noted, “at best insensitive and, at worst, appallingly evil”.5 By 18 April, Georges had retracted his comments. But they were part of a wider pattern of misinformation and fabrication that immediately framed “official” positions on Hillsborough. This began as the disaster was unfolding. At 3.15 p.m. – nine minutes after the match was abandoned, with bodies still prone on the pitch – the Chief Superintendent of the South Yorkshire Police, David Duckenfield, told FA officials that Liverpool fans had forced their way through Gate C at the Leppings Lane end, thus causing the fatal “onrush” into the central pens. The falsehoods deepened in the ensuing days and weeks, most notoriously (but far from exclusively) in the infamous article in The Sun tabloid newspaper on 19 April, headlined “The truth”. Acting on anonymous police tip-offs, Sun journalists claimed that Liverpool supporters 1 HIP Archive, Witness statement from Liverpool supporter, April 21, 1989, http://hillsb orough.independent.gov.uk/repository/HOM000000370001.html, accessed December 9, 2016 (see note 71); Statement from Liverpool supporter to West Midlands Police, April 15, 1989, http://hillsborough.independent.gov.uk/repository/HWP000000890001 .html, accessed December 9, 2016. 2 HIP Archive, Letter from Liverpool supporter to Kenny Dalglish, April 20, 1989, http:/ /hillsborough.independent.gov.uk/repository/SYP000011960001.html, accessed December 9, 2016. 3 HIP Archive, Statement from Liverpool supporter to West Midlands Police, April 18, 1989, http://hillsborough.independent.gov.uk/repository/HWP000000890001.html, accessed December 9, 2016. 4 Quoted in Scraton, Hillsborough, 171. 5 HIP Archive, Letter to the Football Association (FA), Middlesex, April 17, 1989, http:// hillsborough.independent.gov.uk/repository/SYP000029710001.html, accessed December 9, 2016. “Tanked up Yobs” and “Self-Pity City” 59 Stadion, Bd. 43, 1/2019 had stolen from the dead and dying. They had beaten up and even urinated on “brave” police officers trying to help.6 The newspaper’s editor, Kelvin Mackenzie, initially considered running the article under a headline deploying “the vilest word in The Sun’s vocabulary”, “You scum”.7 As these introductory remarks suggest, the Hillsborough disaster quickly became a distinctive and enduring football myth. In a 2011 edited volume on sporting “myths and milestones”, Stephen Wagg borrowed from the French philosopher Roland Barthes to describe the myths under discussion as rooted in “real” events, but petrified into “sacrosanct” national legends that defy critical discussion.8 For Barthes himself, myth “transforms history into nature”. It “hides nothing”, he argued, “its function is to distort, not to make disappear”.9 “The myth of 1966” – England’s World Cup victory as a symbol of sporting and cultural identities that were subsequently both squandered and romanticised – was anchored in an undeniable historical event, the 4-2 win over West Germany at Wembley on 30 July.10 Hillsborough was always different, closer to the conventional than the Barthesian understanding of myth. It was not history dressed up as common sense, or history as a distorted truth. It was history falsified. It was history as a lie. This essay uncovers the history of the myths of the Hillsborough disaster. It first shows how these myths were established – how an invented “grand narrative”, with powerful backers, shifted responsibility for the disaster from the police to supporters, despite overwhelming and readily available (and indeed accepted) evidence to the contrary. It secondly examines how these myths were embedded in public discourse – how Liverpool was demonised as the “self-pity city”, a place of mawkish sentiment where people refused to admit to “killing their own”. It finally analyses how these myths were overturned through research, media mobilisation, and grassroots activism. In doing so, the essay shows how Hillsborough became a key event in modern British history, influencing everything from stadium design to government legislation. Deconstructing the myths of Hillsborough, I argue, reveals much about football’s central but ambiguous place in British society, as a sport that can both support and subvert established authority. Myth Established The central myth of Hillsborough blamed the disaster on drunk and aggressive Liverpool supporters, who turned up late and forced their way into the ground. It was established before most of the victims had reached the temporary morgue in the stadium’s gym. David Duckenfield’s panicked lie to the FA about Liver- 1 6 “The truth,” The Sun, April 19, 1989, 1–3. 7 See Chippindale and Horrie, Stick It Up Your Punter, chap. 15. 8 Wagg, Myths, 2. 9 Barthes, Mythologies, 121, 129. 10 On “the myth of 1966”, see e.g. Hughson, England and the 1966 World Cup. 60 Alan McDougall pool fans forcing entry through Gate C, when Duckenfield himself had ordered the opening of the gate to ease the terrible congestion at the Leppings Lane end, had momentous consequences. FA officials immediately repeated Duckenfield’s accusation to leading media outlets such as the BBC, as in the coming days did the South Yorkshire Police, Conservative politicians, and the UEFA President. For a myth to be established, it has to feed itself, or be fed, from multiple sources. In the case of Hillsborough, four groups mutually reinforced the process: the police, the political elite, the media, and public opinion. The police’s role in orchestrating a smear campaign against Liverpool supporters has been well documented. As early as the interim Taylor Report into the disaster (August 1989), it was noted that elements in the South Yorkshire Police had encouraged irresponsible media coverage. This was evident in The Sun’s “The truth” article on 19 April, where an anonymous but “high-ranking officer” claimed that “the fans were just acting like animals”.11 Taylor concluded that “not a single witness” called to the enquiry could corroborate allegations of Liverpool supporters stealing from or urinating on the dead.12 By then, though, the damage was done. The early spread of false information from police sources created a spectre of fan misbehaviour that was easy to believe and hard to overturn, even in the face of clear evidence to the contrary. The chairman of the South Yorkshire branch of the Police Federation, Paul Middup, was prominent in voicing the police position. Middup used television interviews to partly blame the disaster on a “rampaging mob” of Liverpool fans. Middup was also quoted by name in The Sun’s “The truth” leader: “I am sick of hearing how good the crowd were”.13 John Ashton, a senior lecturer in Liverpool University’s School of Medicine when he attended the 1989 Cup semi-final at Hillsborough, later noted the patterns of language that closed the establishment door on the idea of emergency response culpability for the Hillsborough disaster. Police and ambulance services, so ran the official narrative, had been “magnificent”, “brave”, “dedicated”.14 Similar patterns of language established an opposite narrative about fan behaviour on the day. This narrative moved effortlessly from the police to politicians, and then into the public realm. Paul Middup’s inflammatory comments, for example, were buttressed by remarks from the Conservative MP for Sheffield Hallam, Irvine Patnick. Patnick informed television audiences that he had spoken to South Yorkshire Police officers who had been “attacked […] kicked and punched even when giving mouth-to-mouth resuscitation and people were urinating on them from the balcony above”.15 The police campaign to discredit sections of the Liverpool support found ready outlets in the media. The tabloid press provided the most sensationalist coverage – not only The Sun’s “The truth” piece of 19 April, but also a front-page 11 “The truth,” The Sun, April 19, 1989, 1–3. 12 HIP Archive, Interim Taylor Report, August 1, 1989, 44. 13 “The truth,” The Sun, April 19, 1989, 2. 14 Quoted in Sampson, Hillsborough Voices, 164. 15 Quoted in Scraton, Hillsborough, 173. “Tanked up Yobs” and “Self-Pity City” 61 Stadion, Bd. 43, 1/2019 article in the Daily Star titled “Dead fans robbed by drunk thug”. But the grand narrative about drunken, late, ticketless fans was not confined to the “red tops”. It was repeated in broadsheet newspapers and local newspapers alike, by respected journalists. In Liverpool’s own Daily Post, for example, John Williams told readers that “gate crashers wreaked their fatal havoc […] Scouse killed Scouse for no better reason than 22 men were kicking a ball”. In the Sunday Times on 23 April, Edward Pearce backed UEFA President Jacques Georges’ initial assessment, five days after Georges had been forced to retract it. Liverpool fans, Pearce concluded, had “literally killed themselves and others to be at the game”.16 Dissenting media voices, such as the Daily Mirror’s Brian Reade, defended Liverpool supporters. But they were drowned out in the vital immediate aftermath, when narratives – and prejudices – were fixed. Public reaction to the Hillsborough disaster was not uniform. False media depictions of the events of 15 April met with a furious response in some quarters, as did the graphic photographs on tabloid front pages of dead and dying supporters pressed against the perimeter fencing on the Leppings Lane terrace (“an unforgivable and unrepeatable transgression”).17 After its 19 April article, The Sun was inundated with letters, as was the Press Council, the organisation tasked with upholding ethical standards in UK journalism. Many letters came from Merseyside, but anger was nationwide. One teacher and Manchester United supporter, in a long and eloquent letter to the Press Council on 20 April, spoke of how tabloid coverage of Hillsborough, particularly in the Daily Star and The Sun, had “mentally assaulted” him. “Only the most debased human being could print that material”, he concluded – after noting that not a single headline had proclaimed “police or FA incompetence”. A “disgusted” ten-yearold Everton supporter, in a letter to The Sun on 21 April, pleaded (“please, please”) for an apology. “You made it out that it was Liverpool’s fault […] I think it was the police’s fault for opening the gate and pushing back people trying to get out”.18 The ten-year-old was being optimistic. In an open letter on 28 April, The Sun’s managing editor William Newman refused to apologise for the “substance” of the article on 19 April.19 It would be 23 years before the newspaper finally made a full apology for its “gravest error”.20 16 Scraton, Hillsborough, 172–74. 17 HIP Archive, Letter to the Press Council, Whitstable, April 17, 1989, http://hillsboro ugh.independent.gov.uk/repository/NGN000000030001.html, accessed December 9, 2016. 18 HIP Archive, Letter to the Press Council, Manchester, April 20, 1989; Letter to The Sun, Liverpool, April 21, 1989, http://hillsborough.independent.gov.uk/repository/N GN000000030001.html, accessed December 9, 2016. 19 HIP Archive, Letter of response from William Newman, April 28, 1989, http://hillsb orough.independent.gov.uk/repository/NGN000000080001.html, accessed December 9, 2016. 20 “We are sorry for our gravest error,” The Sun, September 13, 2012, www.thesun.co.u k/archives/news/919113/we-are-sorry-for-our-gravest-error/, accessed November 21, 2018. 62 Alan McDougall Many football followers displayed solidarity with Liverpool supporters after Hillsborough. But there were also less sympathetic judges in the court of public opinion. Letters to the FA and to the Sheffield Star, which ran the headline “Fans in drunken attacks on police” on 18 April, reveal how quickly the police narrative around Hillsborough took root. One former steward at Hillsborough blamed “2,300 morons” and “drunken yobs” for the disaster.21 A correspondent to the FA from Warwick concluded that “unfortunately the innocents died, crushed by the drunken louts who terrorised authority”. This was hardly surprising, argued an elderly letter writer from West Sussex: “Today’s young people are brought up with violence [...] It’s not to be wondered at that we breed animals”.22 Why did the Hillsborough myth fall on fertile ground? The short answer might be termed the “Heysel effect”. The police- and media-driven conflation of Hillsborough and hooliganism was aided by events at the Heysel Stadium in Brussels on 29 May 1985, when Liverpool played Juventus in the European Cup final. In a decrepit venue, without coordinated or effective police oversight, supporters of the two clubs were placed in dangerously close proximity. They threw missiles at each other. Shortly before the scheduled kick off, Liverpool supporters broke through flimsy fencing and charged Juventus fans on the supposedly neutral terrace, Block Z. In the rush to escape, a wall collapsed. Thirty-nine people were killed.23 At a stroke, and in front of a horrified international audience, Liverpool supporters’ good reputation was destroyed. On the day of the Hillsborough disaster, the former Liverpool full-back Alan Kennedy played nonleague football for Northwich Victoria in Cheshire. After the game, as people gathered in the bar to watch television coverage from Hillsborough, he heard comments such as “Oh, Liverpool fans again, they’ve been causing problems” and “Well, you know what they’re like these Liverpool supporters”.24 The Heysel disaster made it easier to sell the story about drunk and aggressive Liverpool supporters at Hillsborough. But the Hillsborough myth had deeper roots. It was, arguably, the culmination of decades of political, police, and media rhetoric about the so-called “English disease”. Government papers on football in the 1980s reveal an obsession with hooliganism. Discussions among ministers in the Conservative government of Margaret Thatcher focused on the securitisation of football grounds: alcohol and travel bans, ID or membership schemes, video surveillance, and the kind of deathtrap perimeter fencing erected at Hillsborough in 1977.25 As Brian Reade noted in the Daily Post on 17 April 21 Letter to the Sheffield Star, April 26, 1989, 9. 22 HIP Archive, Letter to the FA, Warwick, April 19, 1989; Letter to the FA, West Sussex, April 18, 1989, http://hillsborough.independent.gov.uk/repository/SYP00002971 0001.html, accessed December 9, 2016. 23 The English-language literature on the Heysel disaster is far less extensive than the literature on Hillsborough. For Juventus, Liverpool, and European perspectives, see e.g. Chisari, “The cursed cup”; Rowland, From Where I Was Standing; Kech, “Heysel”. 24 Quoted in Taylor, Ward, and Newburn, The Day, 129. 25 See e.g. the materials in TNA, PREM 19/1526-1529 and PREM 19/1789. “Tanked up Yobs” and “Self-Pity City” 63 Stadion, Bd. 43, 1/2019 1989, the prevalent attitude before Hillsborough was simple: “Just keep the animals all caged in. That’s all you’ve got to worry about”.26 Supporters knew that the disaster was an accident waiting to happen. There had been a narrow escape at Hillsborough during the FA Cup semi-final between Spurs and Wolves in 1981, when thirty-eight Spurs supporters were injured in crushes at the Leppings Lane end. Liverpool fans wrote to the FA after the 1988 Cup semi-final to complain about overcrowding on the same terrace. At times, wrote one man, “it was impossible to breathe”: “The whole area was packed solid to the point where it was impossible to move and where I […] felt considerable concern for my personal safety”.27 Such complaints were ignored until it was too late. Security not safety was the priority. Even after the Hillsborough disaster, the Tory government – in what the Labour peer Lord Graham called “an exercise of monumental insensitivity”28 – pushed through the draconian Football Spectators Act. This piece of legislation took “violence and disorder” among fans as a given. It attempted to control admission to matches through a national membership scheme that was rendered obsolete by the Taylor Report (1990), which recommended all-seater stadiums at English clubs.29 Even at the peak of hooligan hysteria in the mid-1980s, the problem encompassed only a small minority of football followers. Police figures for Liverpool’s Anfield stadium between 1985 and 1988, for example, showed 531 arrests and ejections among an aggregate crowd of almost 2.87 million. This was an average of slightly more than two people per match.30 Statistics from London’s Metropolitan Police about visiting Liverpool supporters told much the same story. For the club’s 17 matches in the capital between November 1987 and May 1989, “little or no policing difficulties were reported”.31 But it is perception and prejudice, not reality that feeds myth. Stereotypes about, and media and academic fascination with, the English hooligan kept the subject in the public eye during the 1980s. This was in part a political act, as the right recklessly linked football “yobs” and “louts” to a wider malaise in British society, where respect for “law and order” was in alleged post-industrial decline. Front and centre in the civil war between Thatcher’s Conservative government and its opponents was the city of Liverpool. A seaport in serious economic 26 Brian Reade, “Dead because they didn’t matter,” Liverpool Daily Post, April 17, 1989. 27 HIP Archive, Letter from a Liverpool supporter, Royston, to the FA, April 13, 1988, http://hillsborough.independent.gov.uk/repository/SYP000011830001.html, accessed December 9, 2016. 28 Quoted in Greenfield and Osborn, “Panic law,” 238. 29 “Football Spectators Act 1989” (original), www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/1989/37/en acted, accessed November 21, 2018. 30 HIP Archive, Police arrests and ejections at Anfield from 1985/86 to 1988/89, n.d., http://hillsborough.independent.gov.uk/repository/LFC000000750001.html, accessed December 9, 2016. 31 HIP Archive, Letter from B. Evans, CI Public Order Branch, Metropolitan Police to the Chief Constable, South Yorkshire Police, June 16, 1989, http://hillsborough.inde pendent.gov.uk/repository/SYP000029110001.html, accessed December 9, 2016. 64 Alan McDougall decline by the 1970s, Liverpool was the scene of major riots (in the ethnically diverse district of Toxteth) in 1981. It was home to a Militant socialist city council that declared war on neo-liberalism between 1982 and 1985. Government documents released in 2011 reveal that Thatcher’s Cabinet seriously considered abandoning Liverpool as a viable city after Toxteth. In response to demands for money for inner city areas, the Chancellor Geoffrey Howe commented: “Isn’t this pumping water uphill? Should we go rather for ‘managed decline’? This is not a term for use, even privately. It is much too negative, when it must imply a sustained effort to absorb Liverpool manpower elsewhere”.32 Class-driven establishment antipathy towards the city helped to shape the official narrative about Hillsborough. It then kept the fires of the Hillsborough myth burning long after 1989. Myth Embedded As early as January 1990, the final Taylor Report exonerated Liverpool supporters of responsibility for the Hillsborough disaster. It was highly critical of police operations on the day, from the fatal mistake of opening Gate C to the slow and uncoordinated response from South Yorkshire Police senior officers once the scale of the disaster became clear. But the legal and political climate did not reflect Taylor’s chief findings. The Crown Prosecution Service decided in 1990 that there were no grounds for criminal proceedings against the South Yorkshire Police or any other organisation involved in the Hillsborough disaster. A year later, the first inquest into the disaster returned a verdict of accidental death on the (then) 95 victims.33 The coroner, Dr Stefan Popper, controversially ruled that no evidence could be heard about events after the “cut-off” time of 3.15 p.m. Numerous police witnesses repeated discredited allegations about drunk and violent Liverpool supporters. Subsequent attempts to seek justice were no more successful. A 1993 judicial review of the first inquest, launched by six Hillsborough families, found that it was properly conducted. A 1998 “scrutiny” of new Hillsborough evidence by Lord Justice Stuart-Smith likewise rejected the idea of a new public enquiry. Finally, a private prosecution of David Duckenfield and Bernard Murray, the two senior South Yorkshire Police officers on duty on 15 April 1989, ended in 2000. The jury acquitted Murray. It failed to reach a verdict on Duckenfield. During this bleak period, the original Hillsborough myth – that Liverpool supporters were at least partly to blame for the tragedy – was regularly repeated by politicians, police officers, and the press. It was also reinforced by another layer of myth. This was the myth of Liverpool as, in the words of Edward 2 32 Quoted in Alan Travis, “Thatcher government toyed with evacuating Liverpool after 1981 riots,” The Guardian, December 30, 2011, www.theguardian.com/uk/2011/dec/3 0/thatcher-government-liverpool-riots-1981, accessed November 21, 2018. 33 The 96th victim Tony Brand died in March 1993, after a court ruling allowed his family to stop the life-support treatment that had kept him alive in a persistent vegetative state. “Tanked up Yobs” and “Self-Pity City” 65 Stadion, Bd. 43, 1/2019 Pearce, “the world capital of self-pity”.34 That such a remark could be made by a prominent journalist in a national newspaper, the Sunday Times, on 23 April 1989, barely a week after the Hillsborough disaster, is revealing. In his diary entry for 15 April, the playwright Alan Bennett expressed a similarly uncharitable gut reaction to the news from Sheffield: “It would be Liverpool, that sentimental, self-dramatizing place”.35 From the outset, nationwide sympathy for the Hillsborough victims was complicated by stereotypes. Liverpool was a city disrespectful of “national” authority. It was a city that felt sorry for itself. The trope of the “self-pity city” was never far from the Hillsborough discussion. Simon Barnes, one of the few journalists to cover the disaster with empathy in 1989, described Liverpool in 1993 as “this oddly un-English, doom-prone city”.36 In the same year, his Times colleague Walter Ellis pulled fewer punches in his assessment of Liverpool’s inhabitants, following the shocking murder of two-year-old James Bulger by two local ten-year-olds: “The mob, as self-pitying as it is self-righteous, is a constant presence”.37 Ellis’ lack of sympathy was echoed by Michael Henderson five years later. Liverpool, he wrote, was “a city that often gives the impression of wearing its decline as a badge of honour”. Outsiders, Henderson opined, do not always “warm to the image of the lovable Scouser”.38 The most striking example of this persistent line of attack came in an editorial in the conservative weekly magazine The Spectator in 2004, written after the murder in Iraq of the engineer Kenneth Bigley: “The extreme reaction to Mr Bigley’s murder is fed by the fact that he was a Liverpudlian. Liverpool is a handsome city with a tribal sense of community. A combination of economic misfortune […] and an excessive predilection for welfarism have created a peculiar, and deeply unattractive, psyche among many Liverpudlians. They see themselves whenever possible as victims, and resent their victim status; yet at the same time they wallow in it. Part of this flawed psychological state is that they cannot accept that they might have made any contribution to their misfortunes, but seek rather to blame someone else for it, thereby deepening their sense of shared tribal grievance against the rest of society. The deaths of more than 50 Liverpool football supporters at Hillsborough in 1989 was undeniably a greater tragedy than the single death, however horrible, of Mr Bigley; but that is no excuse for Liverpool’s failure to acknowledge, even to this day, the part played in the disaster by drunken fans at the back of the crowd who mindlessly tried to fight their way into the ground that Saturday afternoon. The police became a convenient scapegoat, and the Sun newspaper a whipping-boy for daring, albeit in a tasteless fashion, to hint at the wider causes of the incident.”39 34 Quoted in Du Noyer, Wondrous Place, 180. 35 Bennett, Writing Home, 289. 36 Simon Barnes, “No hiding place from harsh realities in Liverpool,” The Times, March 8, 1993, 22. 37 Walter Ellis, “The city with a murder on its conscience,” The Times, February 19, 1993, 3. 38 Michael Henderson, “Yesterday, it was such an easy game to play,” The Times, November 21, 1998, 36. 39 “Bigley’s fate,” The Spectator, October 16, 2004, www.spectator.co.uk/2004/10/bigleysfate/, accessed November 21, 2018. 66 Alan McDougall The Spectator’s editor, the Conservative MP (and later Mayor of London and Foreign Secretary) Boris Johnson, was quickly forced to apologise by the party leadership. But Simon Heffer’s text, written fourteen years after the Taylor Report had discredited its maliciously-repeated claims, told a more revealing story than the subsequent backtracking. In The Spectator editorial, the two layers of the Hillsborough myth were seamlessly spliced together – alongside a shockingly offhand reference to the “more than 50” deaths in the disaster (the final death toll was 96). The victimhood narrative reinforced the “killing their own” narrative, which was repeated by several prominent public figures aside from Heffer and Johnson. Brian Clough, the iconic manager of Nottingham Forest, the team that Liverpool played at Hillsborough in 1989, claimed in his 1994 autobiography, and again on a television chat show, that “those Liverpool fans who died were killed by Liverpool people”.40 Margaret Thatcher’s former press secretary, Bernhard Ingham, was equally outspoken two years later on the BBC programme Newsnight. On national television, he reiterated his view that “thousands of ticketless fans” caused the disaster. In an unrepentant letter to a Liverpool supporter later in 1996, Ingham went further: “I believe that there would have been no Hillsborough disaster if tanked-up yobs had not turned up in very large numbers to try to force their way into the ground.” “For its own good”, Ingham advised his correspondent, “Liverpool – with the Heysel disaster in the background – should shut up about Hillsborough”.41 The extent to which mythical narratives around Hillsborough survived was revealed on the opening day of Lord Justice Stuart-Smith’s scrutiny of new evidence on the disaster in 1997. Meeting Hillsborough families in Liverpool city centre for a publicity shot before the scrutiny began, some of whom were delayed in traffic, Stuart-Smith joked to the parent of one of the Hillsborough dead: “Have you got a few of your people, or are they like the Liverpool fans, turn up at the last minute?”42 The tone-deafness of this attempt at humour – with its implied reference to the late arrival of Liverpool fans on the Leppings Lane terrace eight years earlier – was astonishing, given that it was voiced by a senior judge about to head an independent enquiry. Stuart-Smith’s remark exemplified how deeply, and how unthinkingly, the Hillsborough myth permeated establishment discourse. In the embedding of the Hillsborough myth after 1989, we are reminded of Barthes’ view that “Myth deprives the object of which it speaks of all History”.43 This denial of history was rooted in false accounts of what happened on 15 April 1989, repeated long after they should have been discredited. It was strengthened by long-standing ideas about Liverpool as an outlier, a “maritime city-state” that 40 Quoted in Scraton, Hillsborough, 229. 41 Letter from Bernhard Ingham to Graham Skinner, December 30, 1996, www.liverpo olecho.co.uk/news/liverpool-news/sir-bernard-ingham-1996-letter-3324915, accessed November 21, 2018. 42 Quoted in Scraton, Hillsborough, 250. 43 Barthes, Mythologies, 151. “Tanked up Yobs” and “Self-Pity City” 67 Stadion, Bd. 43, 1/2019 the Communist Party of Great Britain described in 1935 as “an organiser’s graveyard”.44 This sense of autonomy was, and remains, a badge of pride in Liverpool. In the context of Hillsborough, though, it became shorthand in the national imagination for “a city of slums and car thieves, overrated comedians and tiresome insularity”.45 Liverpool, in this reading, was a place of sentimental political troublemakers, who irrationally refused to accept the official verdict on Hillsborough. Myth Overturned The Hillsborough myth, as we have seen, never went unchallenged. There were many letters of complaint about police behaviour and press coverage in April 1989. Letters of complaint appeared too whenever public figures such as Brian Clough or Bernard Ingham reinforced pernicious accounts of the disaster. In a letter to the Daily Mail journalist, Ian Wooldridge, in 1994, Hillsborough survivor Alan Edge noted that the long list of the newspaper’s contributors who blamed supporters included nobody with “first hand experience” of the disaster, or of the near misses at the same venue in previous years. This, he concluded, was “rather akin to giving more credence regarding the horrors of World War One to some remote general rather than to a Wilfred Owen or other such blighted trench veteran”.46 There was also activism among Liverpool supporters, to keep the injustice of Hillsborough in the public eye. The Hillsborough Justice Campaign, founded in 1998, was especially important, as a bridge between the families of those who had died and supporters who had survived the disaster. One of its earliest campaigns was a boycott of Liverpool’s match against Sheffield Wednesday at Hillsborough in May 1999, after a previous game between the two sides had The Sun newspaper as the matchday sponsor.47 However, it took a long time for the public narrative around Hillsborough to shift decisively. The key period of transformation was between 2007 and 2009. In response to comments from the former editor of The Sun Kelvin Mackenzie defending his newspaper’s coverage of the Hillsborough disaster (“All I did wrong there was tell the truth”), Liverpool supporters organised “Truth Day”. This was a huge protest at an FA Cup game against Arsenal in January 2007. It included a mosaic and six minutes of chanting “Justice for the 96”.48 Two years later, during a service at Anfield to mark the twentieth anniversary of the disaster, the same chant (“Justice for the 96”) disrupted a speech by local Labour MP Andy Burnham. Visibly shaken, Burnham, a rising figure in the New Labour 3 44 Quoted in Du Noyer, “Northern soul”. 45 Du Noyer, “Northern soul”. 46 HIP Archive, Letter from Alan Edge to Ian Wooldridge, October 27, 1994, http://hill sborough.independent.gov.uk/repository/LFC000000380001.html, accessed December 9, 2016. 47 Sampson, Hillsborough Voices, 233–38. 48 Ibid., 247–53. 68 Alan McDougall hierarchy (and an Everton supporter), called for a full disclosure of all evidence relating to the disaster. His call was supported by the government of Gordon Brown. This led to the creation in 2010 of the Hillsborough Independent Panel. Two years later, the findings of the Hillsborough Independent Panel were published. Backed by an overwhelming body of publicly-available evidence, the Hillsborough Independent Panel Report reiterated long-established facts about Hillsborough. The fundamental cause of the tragedy was “lack of police control” not misbehaving Liverpool supporters. The report revealed evidence of South Yorkshire Police alterations to witness statements. It argued that, with better emergency service responses, 41 of the 96 deaths might have been prevented.49 The Hillsborough Independent Panel Report changed the parameters of the public and political discourse around Hillsborough. The 1991 Hillsborough inquest verdicts (accidental death) were immediately quashed. A second inquest opened in March 2014 at a specially-constructed court room on an industrial estate in Warrington. After the longest trial by jury in British legal history – at which police officers and lawyers again repeated long-discredited allegations about drunken supporters – the second inquest reached a verdict in April 2016. The jury concluded that the 96 victims of the Hillsborough disaster had been unlawfully killed. How and why was the Hillsborough myth overturned? Three interrelated strands of protest contributed to this painstaking process: media mobilisation, academic research, and grassroots activism. As we have seen, the enduring and insidious police narrative around Hillsborough was augmented by complicit media coverage, in 1989 and long afterwards. But mass media and popular culture, particularly music and television, also kept alive supporters’ and family narratives. The seminal example was the 1996 television drama, Hillsborough. Written by Liverpool screenwriter and producer, Jimmy McGovern, Hillsborough aired on primetime television shortly before Christmas 1996. It recounted the day of the tragedy from the point of view of three Hillsborough families, the Hicks, the Spearitts, and the Glovers. All three families lost sons or daughters in the crush. McGovern’s docudrama presented no new evidence. But the medium ensured that the film had a powerful impact. Thirty-two thousand people phoned the Daily Mirror newspaper demanding a new inquest.50 One Nottingham Forest fan, who had been at Hillsborough on 15 April 1989, wrote that he, like many Forest supporters, had “needed last night’s programme” to understand the full extent of the “miscarriage of justice”. Fans of other teams recounted their own stories of terrace crushes and narrowly averted disasters.51 The Hillsborough drama inspired an angry song by Welsh band Manic Street Preachers. Opening with lines about the difficult subject matter, “it’s really not the sort of thing/ 49 “The Report of the Hillsborough Independent Panel,” 5–26. 50 Scraton, Hillsborough, 241. 51 Letters from members of the public to the Hillsborough Disaster Working Party following broadcast of Hillsborough, December 1996, http://hillsborough.independent.g ov.uk/repository/HWP000000890001.html, accessed December 9, 2016. “Tanked up Yobs” and “Self-Pity City” 69 Stadion, Bd. 43, 1/2019 That people want to hear us sing” (a reference perhaps to Hillsborough’s then largely forgotten place in the public memory), S.Y.M.M. thanked McGovern for his film and included the unambiguous chorus refrain: “South South Yorkshire Mass Murderer/How can you sleep at night, sleep at night”.52 In the coming years, as the justice campaign gathered momentum, music (in the form of concerts and records) played a vital role in raising awareness of, and money for, the Hillsborough cause. This was part of a wider media mobilisation that included sympathetic newspapers and journalists, further television shows and films (such as Daniel Gordon’s 2014 ESPN-BBC documentary Hillsborough), online publications such as Hillsborough for Dummies (2008), and social media platforms.53 The changing media landscape was a dramatic symptom of a more prosaic cause. The underlying factor in overturning the Hillsborough myth was research – a tenacious commitment to chasing down documents and eyewitness statements that is familiar to academics in many fields and disciplines. Of course, enough evidence had been in the public domain in 1989 and 1990 to power the findings of the Taylor Report, which had largely exonerated Liverpool supporters and heavily criticised the South Yorkshire Police. But the Taylor Report still praised the South Yorkshire Police’s many years of “excellent service to the public”, and shied away from any sort of cover-up argument. The Report largely avoided criticism of other key organisations on the day, including the South Yorkshire Metropolitan Ambulance Service, the FA, Sheffield City Council, and Sheffield Wednesday FC. And, for all that Taylor’s findings undermined the “hooligan” thesis, he still concluded that “the presence of an unruly minority who had drunk too much aggravated the problem” at the Leppings Lane end.54 Institutional complacency and a tendency to blame supporters rather than authorities for trouble had deep roots in British football culture. After the 1971 Ibrox disaster, when 66 Rangers fans were crushed to death at the end of an “Old Firm” match against local rivals Celtic, the police and club officials shifted as much blame as possible to supporters, despite clear evidence that institutional negligence was the prime cause of the tragedy.55 The Taylor Report was not willing or able to entirely condemn this culture of scapegoating, which was bitterly satirised on the front cover of the fanzine When Saturday Comes in June 1989. Beneath the headline “Hillsborough: Unanimous Verdict”, there were four images. Three showed leading FA and South Yorkshire Police officials and Margaret Thatcher. They were all captioned: “it wasn’t our fault”. The fourth and final photograph showed a massed group of football supporters. It was captioned: “oh well, it must be our fault again”.56 52 Manic Street Preachers, This Is My Truth, Tell Me Yours. 53 Hillsborough for Dummies was reworked and published in 2009 as McMillan and Sharman, The Hillsborough Football Disaster. 54 HIP Archive, Interim Taylor Report, August 1, 1989, 47, 49. 55 Walker, “The Ibrox Stadium Disaster,” 45–51. 56 When Saturday Comes, no. 28 (June 1989). 70 Alan McDougall In subsequent years, a key part of the justice campaign was uncovering evidence that could overturn the initial inquest verdicts and the mendacious official narrative around Hillsborough. A team of researchers led by Phil Scraton, a criminologist and lifelong Liverpool supporter, did much of the heavy lifting. It was Scraton who discovered, in boxes in the House of Lords Archives in London, evidence that South Yorkshire Police officers’ witness statements about Hillsborough had been reviewed and altered in 1989, in order to emphasise fan misbehaviour and to downplay operational errors or faulty leadership from senior South Yorkshire Police officers. At least 116 of 164 such “recollections” were substantially amended along these lines.57 Academic research could not capture public imagination as popular forms of media could – hence the greater impact of McGovern’s Hillsborough than Scraton’s first account of the Hillsborough injustice, the aptly titled No Last Rights: The Denial of Justice and the Promotion of Myth in the Aftermath of the Hillsborough Disaster (1995). But everything that reached the public domain about Hillsborough was grounded in formidable, behind-the-scenes research. Nowhere was this more apparent than in the work of the Hillsborough Independent Panel. This was the Scraton-led independent body set up in 2010 to oversee the release of all documents relating to the Hillsborough disaster. Using 450,000 pages of disclosed material, taken from public and private bodies including the South Yorkshire Police, the South Yorkshire Metropolitan Ambulance Service, and Sheffield City Council, the Panel’s Report broke new ground when it was published in September 2012. Finally, the irrefutable volume and content of the evidence revealed to a wider audience what Liverpool supporters had long and vainly argued. The Hillsborough disaster was an accident waiting to happen. Institutional responses on the day were inadequate across the board. The inquests and enquiries into the disaster from 1990 to 2000 were deeply flawed. The South Yorkshire Police had doctored witness statements and closed ranks in a way that was effectively a cover-up.58 The fact that it took so long for this evidence to be, first, fully disclosed and, second, accepted offers a damning indictment of the institutional climate that allowed the Hillsborough myth to flourish for so long “in academic texts, broadcast documentaries, political debate and popular discourse, including fiction writing”, as the Hillsborough Independent Panel Report noted.59 The fact that this material eventually reached the public domain, forced climb-downs and apologies, and changed minds is a testament to the grassroots activism that drove the “Justice for the 96” campaign. Media mobilisation and academic research required foot soldiers, men and women unwilling to accept the original inquest findings or the inaccuracies and lies in what the anthropologist James C. Scott would term “the public transcript” about Hillsborough. Scott’s Domination and the Arts of Resistance (1992) recounts historical moments when “hidden transcripts” confront hegemonic power. In the case of 57 “The Report of the Hillsborough Independent Panel,” 23. 58 Ibid., 5–26. 59 Ibid., 342. “Tanked up Yobs” and “Self-Pity City” 71 Stadion, Bd. 43, 1/2019 Hillsborough, the “hidden transcript” – the alternative stories of the oppressed and the ignored – was always hidden in plain sight. But it required remarkable persistence from ordinary people to overturn the myths. Liverpool supporters effectively deployed Scott’s “weapons of the weak”. They built networks of everyday resistance outside the mainstream historical narrative that ultimately had a powerful political impact.60 Hillsborough campaigner Anne Williams, whose son Kevin died in the disaster, recalled how even on Merseyside in the early- to mid 1990s “people were wondering why I was persisting […] ‘Why is this woman rocking the boat?’”61 Research and advocacy groups, in different ways, continued to rock the boat. Work by the Hillsborough Project (1990– 2003), co-funded by Liverpool City Council and Edge Hill University, formed the basis for Phil Scraton’s second book Hillsborough: The Truth (1999). The Hillsborough Family Support Group represented bereaved families in the long, expensive, and often bewildering rounds of legal claims. It also organised Anfield’s annual Hillsborough commemoration service. The Hillsborough Justice Campaign, founded in 1998, stepped up the grassroots campaign for justice. It provided counselling advice for survivors, organised concerts and matchday protests, created online content, and sold “Justice for the 96” wristbands, Don’t Buy The Sun stickers, and other fundraising merchandise at the small Hillsborough Justice Campaign shop outside Anfield. Through the Hillsborough Justice Campaign in particular – with support from Liverpool fanzines such as Through the Wind & Rain and The Liverpool Way – an angry and tenacious Hillsborough subculture took root. Pressure groups offered constant reminders of what lay, in Scott’s words, “behind the official story”.62 They helped to erode the Hillsborough myth. Conclusion In a memorandum from January 1986, the Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher responded to the Popplewell Report, an investigation into the twin disasters that struck English football in May 1985, the Heysel riot (39 dead) and a fire in the wooden stands at Bradford City’s stadium that killed 56 people. Preaching vigilance in the face of the hooligan threat, she warned: “I know we must not relax now. If we do – one more bad incident and we shall be culpable”.63 The next “bad incident”, of course, was the Hillsborough disaster. But it was not the government, either Thatcher’s or any of its successors, that was made culpable for Hillsborough. Nor, despite partial admissions of culpability, was it other institutional bodies such as the police. Instead, for the twenty-seven years that separated the disaster from the second inquest verdict in April 2016, the Hills- 4 60 Scott, Domination; Scott, Weapons of the Weak. 61 Quoted in Sampson, Hillsborough Voices, 219. 62 Scott, Domination, 1. 63 TNA, PREM 19/1789: Memo from Margaret Thatcher on the Popplewell Report, n.d. (January 1986). 72 Alan McDougall borough myth enshrined the view that drunk, ticketless, and late-arriving Liverpool fans were at least partly responsible for “killing their own”, for 96 deaths that occurred, in the words of the American novelist Don DeLillo, in “an agony of raised and twisted arms and suffering faces”.64 This lack of institutional culpability around football disasters did not begin or end with Hillsborough. Nor was it confined to Britain. The Ngoepe Report into the 2001 Ellis Park Stadium disaster in South Africa, for example, whitewashed the egregious security errors and endemic racism that contributed to the deaths of 43 people in a “suffocating crush” before a derby in Johannesburg between Kaizer Chiefs and Orlando Pirates.65 After 19 people were killed at a World Cup qualifier between Ivory Coast and Malawi at the Stade Félix Houphouët-Boigny in Abidjan in 2009, the country’s Interior Minister blamed ticketless supporters, rather than crumbling infrastructure or police tear gas, for the stampede that led to the fatal crush.66 In his foreword to a 2016 oral history of the disaster, the Labour politician Andy Burnham stated that “establishing the full truth about Hillsborough is not just vital for the people who suffered directly, it fills in missing pages of the social history of our country”. “A full and true record” of what happened on the day and afterwards, Burnham concluded, “tells us how we were governed and policed in the second half of the Twentieth Century”.67 Hillsborough was one of a series of disasters in Britain in the mid- to late 1980s that reflected laissezfaire public- and private-sector attitudes to safety not only in football stadiums, but on public transport, and elsewhere: the fire at King’s Cross railway station in London (1987, 31 dead); the capsizing of the Herald of Free Enterprise ferry (1987, 193 dead); the fire on the Piper Alpha oil rig (1988, 167 dead); the Clapham Junction railway crash (1988, 35 dead); and the sinking of the Marchioness pleasure boat on the River Thames (1989, 51 dead). Among all of these tragedies, however, only Hillsborough became a myth. Its destruction required decades of research, protest, and campaigning, and the longest trial in British legal history. Hillsborough’s ultimate impact on British society has been profound. The Public Authority (Accountability) Bill, better known as the Hillsborough Law, first presented to Parliament in March 2017, proposed to make it a legal duty for public servants and public authorities to act “with transparency, candour and frankness”.68 The Law’s potential impact was made clear in a tragedy with echoes of Hillsborough: publicly expressed safety concerns that were ignored, negligence on the part of public and private authorities, and flawed emergency 64 DeLillo, Mao II, 33. 65 Alegi, “The Ellis Park Stadium Disaster,” 112–18. 66 “Fans blamed for Ivorian stampede,” http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/africa/7971596.stm, accessed May 13, 2019. 67 Sampson, Hillsborough Voices, xiii. 68 Public Authority (Accountability) Bill, https://publications.parliament.uk/pa/bills/cb ill/2016-2017/0163/cbill_2016-20170163_en_2.htm#l1g1, accessed November 21, 2018. “Tanked up Yobs” and “Self-Pity City” 73 Stadion, Bd. 43, 1/2019 responses.69 This was the Grenfell Tower fire in London in June 2017, in which 72 people were killed. When Liverpool came to London to play Chelsea in September 2018, visiting supporters held up a banner that reflected their own bitter experiences and ultimate vindication. It demanded “Justice for Grenfell”. Since 2016, mainstream discourse on Hillsborough has shifted, or been forced to shift, from rumours and legend to hard facts and meaningful consequences. In April 2019, the former Sheffield Wednesday club secretary and safety officer, Graham Mackrell, became the first official to receive a criminal conviction for his role in the disaster. Though the same jury failed to reach a verdict on David Duckenfield, charged with manslaughter by gross negligence, further prosecutions of police officers accused of perverting the course of justice – and a possible Duckenfield retrial – remained in the pipeline. Shortly after its creation in 1998, the Hillsborough Justice Campaign defiantly predicted that “History will recall Hillsborough firmly within the bounds of civil rights, and the bereaved and survivors of the disaster will be remembered for the heroic stances they took against the might of bureaucratic forces in the name of justice”.70 The prediction took a long time to come true. But, in the case of Hillsborough, myth was finally defeated by history. References Alegi, Peter. “‘Like cows driven to a dip’. The 2001 Ellis Park Stadium Disaster in South Africa.” In Soccer and Disaster. International Perspectives, edited by Stephen Darby, Martin Johnes, and Gavin Mellor, 109–23. Abingdon: Routledge, 2005. Barthes, Roland. Mythologies, translated by Annette Lavers. New York: Hill & Wang, 1972. Bennett, Alan. Writing Home. London: Faber & Faber, 1994. Chippindale, Peter, and Chris Horrie. Stick It Up Your Punter. The Uncut History of The Sun Newspaper. London: Faber & Faber, 2013. Chisari, Fabio. “‘The cursed cup’. Italian responses to the 1985 Heysel Disaster.” In Soccer and Disaster. International Perspectives, edited by Stephen Darby, Martin Johnes, and Gavin Mellor, 77–94. Abingdon: Routledge, 2005. DeLillo, Don. Mao II. New York: Viking, 1991. Du Noyer, Paul. Liverpool – Wondrous Place. From the Cavern to the Capital of Culture. London: Virgin, 2007. Du Noyer, Paul. “Northern soul. Liverpool.” New Statesman, October 21, 2007. www.newstat esman.com/arts-and-culture/2007/06/soul-liverpool-city-manchester, accessed November 21, 2018. Greenfield, Steve, and Guy Osborn. “When the writ hits the fan. Panic law and football fandom.” In Fanatics! Power, Identity and Fandom in Football, edited by Adam Brown, 235– 48. London: Routledge, 1998. Hughson, John. England and the 1966 World Cup. A Cultural History. Manchester: Manchester University Press, 2016. Kech, Clemens. “Heysel and its symbolic value in Europe’s collective memory.” In European Football and Collective Memory, edited by Wolfram Pyta and Nils Havemann, 152–170. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2015. Manic Street Preachers. This Is My Truth, Tell Me Yours. London: Epic, 1997. McMillan, Nicola, and Jim Sharman. The Hillsborough Football Disaster. Context and Consequences. Tunbridge Wells: Em Project Limited, 2009. 69 On the Grenfell fire and its contested aftermath, see e.g. O’Hagan, “The Tower.” 70 “Hillsborough Football Disaster,” www.contrast.org/hillsborough/history/index.sht m, accessed November 21, 2018. 74 Alan McDougall O’Hagan, Andrew. “The Tower.” London Review of Books, June 7, 2018. www.lrb.co.uk/v 40/n 11/andrew-ohagan/the-tower, accessed November 21, 2018. “The Report of the Hillsborough Independent Panel. Ordered by the House of Commons to be printed on 12 September 2012,” https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/ uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/229038/0581.pdf, accessed November 21, 2018. Rowland, Chris. From Where I Was Standing. Leicester: GPRF Publishing, 2009. Sampson, Kevin. Hillsborough Voices. The Real Story Told by the People Themselves. London: Ebury Press, 2016. Scott, James C. Weapons of the Weak. Everyday Forms of Resistance. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1985. Scott, James C. Domination and the Arts of Resistance. Hidden Transcripts. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1992. Scraton, Phil. No Last Rights. The Denial of Justice and the Promotion of Myth in the Aftermath of the Hillsborough Disaster. Liverpool: Liverpool City Council, 1995. Scraton, Phil: Hillsborough. The Truth. Edinburgh: Mainstream Publishing, 6th edition, 2016. Taylor, Rogan, Andrew Ward, and Tim Newburn. The Day of the Hillsborough Disaster. A Narrative Account. Liverpool: Liverpool University Press, 1995. Wagg, Stephen (ed.). Myths and Milestones in the History of Sport. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2011. Walker, Graham. “The Ibrox Stadium Disaster of 1971.” In Soccer and Disaster. International Perspectives, edited by Stephen Darby, Martin Johnes, and Gavin Mellor, 45–58. Abingdon: Routledge, 2005. Archives Online Hillsborough Independent Panel (HIP) Archive71 Kew, London The National Archives (TNA) – PREM 19/1526–1529. – PREM 19/1789. Periodicals Liverpool Daily Post Liverpool Echo Sheffield Star The Guardian The Sun The Times When Saturday Comes 71 Note: at the time of publication, the online Hillsborough Independent Panel Archive had been “temporarily taken down” due to ongoing legal proceedings related to the Hillsborough disaster: https://webarchive.nationalarchives.gov.uk/*/htt p://hillsborough.independent.gov.uk/, accessed November 21, 2018. “Tanked up Yobs” and “Self-Pity City” 75 Stadion, Bd. 43, 1/2019

Abstract

On 15 April 1989, Liverpool FC played Nottingham Forest in an FA Cup semi-final at the Hillsborough Stadium in Sheffield in northern England. Catastrophic errors by the police and other organisations led to the deaths of 96 Liverpool supporters, crushed against the perimeter fences on the Leppings Lane terrace. Though the horrific facts of the disaster were quickly and widely known, they were lost beneath another narrative, promoted by the police, numerous politicians, and large sections of the media. This narrative blamed the disaster on “tanked up yobs”: drunk and aggressive Liverpool supporters, who turned up late and forced their way into the ground. Over the subsequent years and decades, as Hillsborough campaigners vainly sought justice for the disaster’s victims in a series of trials and inquests, the destructive allegation remained in the public realm. It was reinforced by establishment dismissal of Liverpool as a “self-pity city”, home to a community incapable of accepting official verdicts or of leaving the past in the past. This essay uncovers the history of the myths of the Hillsborough disaster. It first shows how these myths were established - how false narratives, with powerful backers, shifted responsibility for the disaster from the police to supporters, despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary. It then examines how these myths were embedded in public discourse - how Liverpool was demonised as an aggressively sentimental city where people refused to admit to “killing their own”. It finally analyses how these myths were overturned through research, media mobilisation, and grassroots activism, a process that culminated in the 2016 inquest verdict, which ruled that the 96 Hillsborough victims were unlawfully killed. In doing so, the essay shows how Hillsborough became a key event in modern British history, influencing everything from stadium design to government legislation.

References
Alegi, Peter. “‘Like cows driven to a dip’. The 2001 Ellis Park Stadium Disaster in South Africa.” In Soccer and Disaster. International Perspectives, edited by Stephen Darby, Martin Johnes, and Gavin Mellor, 109–23. Abingdon: Routledge, 2005.
Barthes, Roland. Mythologies, translated by Annette Lavers. New York: Hill & Wang, 1972.
Bennett, Alan. Writing Home. London: Faber & Faber, 1994.
Chippindale, Peter, and Chris Horrie. Stick It Up Your Punter. The Uncut History of The Sun Newspaper. London: Faber & Faber, 2013.
Chisari, Fabio. “‘The cursed cup’. Italian responses to the 1985 Heysel Disaster.” In Soccer and Disaster. International Perspectives, edited by Stephen Darby, Martin Johnes, and Gavin Mellor, 77–94. Abingdon: Routledge, 2005.
DeLillo, Don. Mao II. New York: Viking, 1991.
Du Noyer, Paul. Liverpool – Wondrous Place. From the Cavern to the Capital of Culture. London: Virgin, 2007.
Du Noyer, Paul. “Northern soul. Liverpool.” New Statesman, October 21, 2007. www.newstatesman.com/arts-and-culture/2007/06/soul-liverpool-city-manchester, accessed November 21, 2018.
Greenfield, Steve, and Guy Osborn. “When the writ hits the fan. Panic law and football fandom.” In Fanatics! Power, Identity and Fandom in Football, edited by Adam Brown, 235–48. London: Routledge, 1998.
Hughson, John. England and the 1966 World Cup. A Cultural History. Manchester: Manchester University Press, 2016.
Kech, Clemens. “Heysel and its symbolic value in Europe’s collective memory.” In European Football and Collective Memory, edited by Wolfram Pyta and Nils Havemann, 152–170. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2015.
Manic Street Preachers. This Is My Truth, Tell Me Yours. London: Epic, 1997.
McMillan, Nicola, and Jim Sharman. The Hillsborough Football Disaster. Context and Consequences. Tunbridge Wells: Em Project Limited, 2009.
O’Hagan, Andrew. “The Tower.” London Review of Books, June 7, 2018. www.lrb.co.uk/v40/n11/andrew-ohagan/the-tower, accessed November 21, 2018.
“The Report of the Hillsborough Independent Panel. Ordered by the House of Commons to be printed on 12 September 2012,” https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/229038/0581.pdf, accessed November 21, 2018.
Rowland, Chris. From Where I Was Standing. Leicester: GPRF Publishing, 2009.
Sampson, Kevin. Hillsborough Voices. The Real Story Told by the People Themselves. London: Ebury Press, 2016.
Scott, James C. Weapons of the Weak. Everyday Forms of Resistance. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1985.
Scott, James C. Domination and the Arts of Resistance. Hidden Transcripts. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1992.
Scraton, Phil. No Last Rights. The Denial of Justice and the Promotion of Myth in the Aftermath of the Hillsborough Disaster. Liverpool: Liverpool City Council, 1995.
Scraton, Phil: Hillsborough. The Truth. Edinburgh: Mainstream Publishing, 6th edition, 2016.
Taylor, Rogan, Andrew Ward, and Tim Newburn. The Day of the Hillsborough Disaster. A Narrative Account. Liverpool: Liverpool University Press, 1995.
Wagg, Stephen (ed.). Myths and Milestones in the History of Sport. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2011.
Walker, Graham. “The Ibrox Stadium Disaster of 1971.” In Soccer and Disaster. International Perspectives, edited by Stephen Darby, Martin Johnes, and Gavin Mellor, 45–58. Abingdon: Routledge, 2005.

Zusammenfassung

STADION ist die einzige mehrsprachige Zeitschrift zur Sportgeschichte auf internationaler Ebene.

Bekannte Historiker, aber auch Vertreter anderer Disziplinen, wie etwa Anthropologie, Archäologie, Pädagogik, Soziologie oder Philosophie, veröffentlichen Beiträge.

STADION richtet sich sowohl an Fachwissenschaftler als auch an alle, die aus historiografischer Perspektive um ein vertieftes und differenziertes Verständnis von Sport, Spiel, Leibeserziehung und Körperkultur bemüht sind, insbesondere auch an Publizisten und Journalisten.