Right I'm a football fan. I'm a proper fan. I'll be watching Leyton Orient against Brentford on telly tonight on Sky because I love football (I like gambling as well but that's beside the point). I run a six a side team on a Monday because I'm a fan of the game. I support Newcastle United and support Scotland internationally but I'm still a fan of all good football, and bad football for that matter, there's been both in abundance at SJP over the thirty five plus years I've been going. And as for Scotland, fuck me Jim Bett went to a World Cup once, enough said!
I'm also a veteran of the terraces, of the bad old days of the 70s and more importantly the 80s. I've had it first hand with police being heavy handed, with people branding you a thug and a low life because you went to watch a sport which then became trendy a decade later with the chattering classes, with politicians and local authorities trying to ban you from travelling, with shops shutting, being frogmarched to grounds by the said coppers and generally being public enemy number one in the eyes of every 'reasonable' person in this country. The tabloids marked us, we were caged in at the very grounds that were kept going from our money and we were kept back till the wonderful coppers told us we could leave with a police escort to the railway station where we were shunted off back up north. There was nowhere to wee, at home games we got told that if we were wearing Doctor Martins we had to fuck off to the Gallowgate end and if anyone dared jump on a barrier, we were dragged out by the wonderful coppers mob handed and hoyed into the streets.
I was at the Leppings Lane end twice in the 80s. One time in 84, coppers kicking fuck out of people who were climbing up into the upper stand because there was a bit of a crush below (does that ring any bells?!!), and the second time was on Boxing Day in 88 some three and a half months before the terrible events at the semi final took place. We were caged in fearing for our very safety, there was 10,000 there from the North East but it was clear the wonderful coppers weren't expecting that many. By the way it was 2-1 to Newcastle that day in a season where we only won 5 and were relegated finishing bottom, great days!
I'll let you into a secret those of you that didn't go to football back then, a lot of us were drunk, I know terrible isn't it. In fact I'd say loads of people were pissed. There would've been a few fuckin low lifes went to Hillsborough that day, come on 10,000 Newcastle fans, there had to have been a few that you wouldn't have trusted as far as you could chuck. Fast forward to three and a half months later, there had to be a few drunken fuckers in the Liverpool crowd that fateful day. Indeed many had travelled without tickets. Who knows what else went on. The fact is it doesn't excuse police incompetence, cover ups, lies and a hostility towards fans trying to help people that would've been alive today had plod not stopped it.
The reason though why there was police at grounds back in those days like it was a township in Soweto, was because of the way football fans did behave. Despite all that I've said, football supporters in general had reputations for stabbing, kicking fuck out of anyone in different colours, throwing petrol bombs, throwing darts, throwing coins at goalkeepers, throwing bangers at people taking corners, throwing seats at police and other fans and of course it enveloped into killings on occasion. What gets forgotten is only four years earlier, English football club teams were banned from European competition because 39 Italians supporting Juventus were crushed when a wall fell down at The Heysel Stadium after they were chased by............Liverpool supporters. They claimed it was the National Front in London, they claimed that it was Chelsea fans, people with Glasgow accents, there was even one claim that it was Juve fans themselves, I know fuckin amazing.
Some of the comments today on Facebook and no doubt twitter from people who aren't even proper football fans is astounding. It was an appalling thing that happened no doubt, I do realise that I'm one lucky football supporter because I'm still here and not unlucky enough for something like this to have happened to me back in those days (the ineptness of the old NUFC board put pay to that!!). It was something waiting to happen and unfortuntaly looking back, the only change for the good that was ever going to take place was because of something dreadful and tragic like this happening.
Balance is something you should strive for in any argument but remember no one knew what the fuck to do about a growing problem of disorder at football matches so I'm not going to do the populist thing of saying how great all football fans were back then, we weren't. Things were bad, that's why grounds were crawling with old bill not fucking about if anything got a bit tasty.
Many people, some of them on Facebook today banging on about justice and karma and how disgusting Tories are alongside any bloke who put on a copper's uniform to help feed his kids, then harp on about lies and cover ups, I know for a fact those fuckers have said to me quietly that Boris Johnson was right, that they have a dislike of Liverpool and Liverpudlians and they are wallowing in self pity and generally say quietly all the things that they've expressed pretend revulsion about in the arena of facebook. We now live in a society where people want to score brownie points, where people have a quasi left wing view about stuff because it makes them look like a nice person. Some people even on the bottom rung of showbusiness have an image to keep pure and squeaky clean. People that say 'racism is bad man', no shit Sherlock, you know the type, 'I think some of those bankers should be made to give their money back', to who exactly fucknutts?!!
Right I'll draw a line under this. Anyone's welcome to disagree or whatever but if it's from some cunt who started liking football after Fever Pitch came out, you can fuck off and go back to your book 'How Tony Blair Saved Britain' or 'Paul Weller Invented Songwriting'. In the meantime RIP Hillsborough victims You'll Never Walk Alone. Speak tomorrow.
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