Hillsborough Remembered Pt 3: Taylor Report

Published: Apr 16, 2014 12:11pm EDT
By Jason Bardwell, Sports Writer for Konsume Sports

Please Note: This article was updated Apr 16, 2014 @ 12:11pm EDT

 

It was 25 years ago and I had only just turned 10 a few weeks before. I remember the images vividly though as reports came in, through the television, of trouble at the Sheffield Wednesday ground, Hillsborough. That was the neutral venue for one of that years FA Cup Semi Final matches, in this case Liverpool faced Nottingham Forest for a place in the Final. The game on that day would not finish and 96 Liverpool fans who went into the ground that sunny, Saturday afternoon, wouldn’t come back out alive. This is their story and over four days I will do my best to give you a feel for the events of that day and the justice still being pursued today.

 

TAYLOR REPORT:

 

After the disaster Lord Justice Taylor was recruited to look into events which led to the, at that time 95, deaths. The first report, and interim report, was published in the August of 1989, four months after the events and outlined the days events and initial conclusions. Early the next year, January 1990, the final report was published, with conclusions and recommendations.

In that report it was the police who faced the most blame with their lack of control on the day being a key factor. That said, it was also the lay out of the stadium which got the finger pointing also with the recommendation that all grounds should be converted to all seater.

This led to iconic terraces being replaced by all sitting versions and some grounds abandoned all together in favor of new sites, with conversion of the existing grounds being deemed not cost effective or just plain impossible to implement.

Today there are calls for the stadiums to reintroduce standing room which wouldn’t be a reversal of the Taylor report recommendations as such. The football fan climate has changed dramatically since those days and to be fair the majority of fans would not have died had there not been the perimeter fences in place. Other points made in the report included the sale of alcohol, crash barriers and turnstiles.

It was clear in the report, as it should have been on the day with the men in charge, that a few small but key decisions should have been made. The kick off should certainly have been delayed to allow the police to have more control in getting the fans in the ground in a safer way. Remember, it was a strike on goal which had the crowd surge forward and some crash barriers broke causing fans to fall. If the game had not been started then these elements would not have been present.

The Leppings Lane entrance was highlighted as playing a role in the events also with the Liverpool fans having to enter via just two turnstiles. This is what led to the overcrowding outside the stadium and the subsequent opening of the side gate. The decision to open the side gate would not have been a bad one had a police presence been deployed to close the tunnel and direct fans to either of the two empty pens. This had been done at two previous FA Cup Semi Finals at the ground but the oversight on this day unfortunately proved to be costly.

Twenty years later, a Government Minister, Andy Burnham called for the emergency services to make their documents available, which strangely hadn’t been available for the initial Taylor Report. This led to the formation of the Hillsborough Independent Panel and where the story continues tomorrow.


 

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Jason Bardwell
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