april 15th 1989…(part m2) CONTIN UED from previous bliog..
this is a CONTINUATION….
crowd pressure was ever increasing and the lads on the crush
barrier behind me were really struggling. This was as bad as I’d
ever experienced and was getting worse. It didn’t feel like a surge,
more like steadily increasing overcrowding. I’d been to loads of
matches when the crowd pressure had been uncomfortable and where at
times you had no control over your own movement. There had been many
occasions when people had fainted or were just so overwhelmed that
they were pushed upwards over the heads of the crowd, then ferried
down by outstretched hands to the front of the Kop for the St John’s
ambulance gang to look after them – though I’d never been in that
man immediately behind one of my shoulders who looked about 30ish
asking us to help push him back under the strain. He was trying
get under the crush barrier. ‘Come on lads, help us here, push me
back.’ We tried to lean backwards towards him while he pushed at our
backs but our movements were restricted and he couldn’t make any
progress against the crowd behind him anyway. He asked us to kick
soles of his shoes – so he could maybe spring over the barrier –
it was no use, he wasn’t going anywhere.
man immediately behind my other shoulder, again 30 something and
maybe with a moustache, was in pain and couldn’t even try to help
himself anymore. He was wearing a windcheater style jacket (I seem
remember white, yellow and grey markings on it). He was just
pleading: ‘Please… Please… Please…’
Maybe six feet in front of me a fella said, ‘Come on lads, let’s get
this young girl out,’ and people tried to help. She looked maybe 12
years old or so with dark hair. I can’t say I know what happened to
singing had well stopped around me by now with everybody here
struggling. There were cries for help, cries of pain and cries to
police just a matter of yards in front of me to open the gates
the perimeter fence. The police were ignoring the requests and as
caught the eyes of one myself, I made a point of shouting at him
open the gates. He just looked at me, pointed behind me and
mouthed at me to get back, which of course was totally impossible.
appeared as though a gate down at the front had sprung open under
pressure but it looked to me as though the police were pushing
crowd back in.
could tell from the crowd noise around the ground that the teams
come out and I remember thinking, ‘Oh no, they’re gonna
kick-off.’ The problems behind the goal needed to be sorted out
first! I couldn’t actually see which way we were kicking as my head
been pushed forward and I was facing downwards for a time. I
missed the match kick-off and all of the action which by this time
wasn’t a priority for me, though I knew which way we would be
kicking as both teams would want to finish the match attacking the
goal which their own supporters were behind.
had no idea that Peter Beardsley had hit the crossbar until I read
in the Echo some days later. I have heard that he was worried
this action had caused a further surge in the crowd but all I can
is that from where I was, things were obviously beyond that by
then and to my knowledge it had neither hindered nor helped matters.
When I found out about Beardsley’s shot, it really struck me and
stopped me in my tracks; I’d never even thought about what had
happened during the 6 minutes of play. It hit me again years later
when I found out that Forest had had two corners down our end;
obviously I’d never known about that either. Just think about it,
travelled a long way in such anticipation to see this action –
that had happened right in front of me – and I’d missed it; I’d been
totally unaware and even if I could have seen it, I’d lost all
interest by then anyway.
my struggling I then noticed somebody go to Bruce Grobbelaar and
remonstrate with him but there still seemed to be no help coming to
I knew I was really in trouble, in great danger, and remember
thinking, ‘I hope my mum hasn’t heard about this’ because she’d only
have worried. I knew my dad would be listening to the match
commentary back home on the radio.
Despite the pleading with the police to open the gates, nothing was
being done and I knew that I was on my own here if I wanted out –
I knew that I had to get out.
on Earth could what was happening to us behind that goal have
been missed, or even worse, ignored?
wasn’t struggling to breathe and I remember thinking, ‘Oh God,
please get me out’ but I stayed very calm and focussed on getting
through this. I hadn’t noticed that the match had been stopped. Me
Bailey saw a couple of lads going past us over the heads down to
gate at the front. We agreed that this was the only way out but
were too restricted to make any progress. I had the use of my
hands above my shoulders but a lot a people didn’t. I always had my
arms up this way at the match to help me move about. My dad had
always told me to know where the exit to any place was, always know
way out of any trouble, and this is in my nature anyway.
don’t know how but Bailey got himself half way up over everybody’s
heads, so then I lent my hand and helped his foot and suddenly he’d
made it onto the top of the crowd. I shouted, ‘Get me out!’ but he
no chance of helping me. He crawled over the top of the crowd to
gate down at the front. I saw him escape which was a relief. I
shouted after him, ‘Just get out Bailey, get out!’
don’t know how much longer went by and believe that when you
really need it, you can sometimes find extra strength. Add that to a
of luck that tragically a lot of other people didn’t get and I
managed to wriggle upwards, half-way above the crowd. Some fella who
stuck there himself stretched out his hand, ‘Here y’are mate!’
helped my foot so I could drag myself upwards onto the top of the
crowd. I crawled towards the gate down at the front, which was maybe
approximately 20 feet or so in front of me, so it came up very fast.
got to the gate, I heard somebody shout to me, ‘There’s people
grabbed the top of the frame at the opened gate and was about to
escape when a policeman aggressively grabbed hold of me with both
hands at my chest stopping me. He shouted at me, pushing me back as
stopped my progress. He wasn’t gonna let me out but there was no
I was going back in there. Despite knowing that you don’t go
against the police if you wanna stay clear of trouble for yourself,
knew this was very different and I tried to force my way past him
from my vulnerable position. It worked and as I tried to get
through, he dragged me and then threw me, out and down onto the
shingle track around the pitch.
stood up and was on the grass right behind the goal. It was the
first time I’d ever been onto the pitch at a match. I saw a young
lady crouched down at the goal netting crying and went over to
comfort her. ‘You wanted to get onto the pitch after the game
anyway, didn’t you?’ I said and she smiled. She wasn’t physically
There were people lying on the floor with others over them trying to
revive them with mouth-to-mouth being given by those who knew how to
it. Some people had been sick. I saw one man whose trousers had
knelt down on the pitch myself and started to cry but stopped
quickly and got myself together. I got grass stains on the knees of
jeans and so knew that the pitch must have been watered that
morning. I started to look around for Bailey but was surprised that
couldn’t find him. Despite knowing loads of people who had gone to
match that day, the only person I saw on the pitch who I knew
Phil from work. ‘Are you alright mate?’ I asked. He was OK.
Forest fans were singing, ‘There will be no Scouse in Europe’, a
reference to the fact that while the UEFA ban following Heysel was
soon to be over for English clubs, we were still to serve a longer
ban. Looking back they mustn’t have realised what was happening down
noticed that some fans were carrying the injured on advertising
boards to the other end of the pitch, clear from the chaos behind
goal and presumably to where they would receive medical
treatment. I asked one fella to do the same with somebody who was
of it but he said, ‘Let’s get him breathing first.’
walked over to the side of the pitch and ripped up an advertising
board myself, getting a small cut on the fingers of my right hand.
only other physical injury I got that day – which I didn’t yet
know – was a bruise on my back in the shape of a hand, you could
clearly see the finger and thumb marks. This wasn’t from being
struck but was evidence of the pressure in the Pen.
walked over to one man lying on the floor who was not conscious.
sure he was dead – in fact I know it in my heart – but you hear
people getting revived when all seems lost. A couple of young men
were standing with me, including one policeman without his helmet
For a second or so that lasted for ages we hesitated and so I
dragged this poor Reds fan onto the board myself thinking, ‘Come on
mate, you can make it’. He wasn’t tall and seemed maybe just a
little older than me, with dark hair. His mouth was open and his
eyes were closed over. As I dragged him his trousers came down to
just over his knees, showing his underpants but this didn’t matter.
young constable collected his helmet from the floor at this
point and went off, leaving us to it. I got the impression he was
relieved that somebody had taken over from him. He might have been
going to assist somewhere else, I don’t know; I just didn’t get that
impression. We carried the Reds fan as quickly as we could to the
other end of the pitch, into the left corner with the others and
left him for the attention of the St John’s volunteers. If I’d known
to do mouth-to-mouth, I’d have done it.
There were exceptions but in the main, the people who carried the
injured were those who had escaped the crush themselves. The police
obviously not been given instructions to deal with the disaster
that had unfolded and I didn’t see much evidence of them acting on
initiative. Like I say, I know there were exceptions and I do not
want to do a disservice to those police who did act to save lives.
just pointing out that on the whole, and taken collectively,
they had been blind to what was happening and when they did realise,
they froze. What help they did finally provide was largely too
little, too late.
After doing my bit with the advertising boards, the police formed a
line across the pitch to keep us apart from the Forest fans – they
were still this blind! I walked over to one policeman who was an
officer, not a constable. I asked him if there was anything he
wanted me to do to help. He replied no and that they were looking
after everything now thanks. I left the pitch using the players’
tunnel, walking past Gerald Sinstadt from the BBC. I went past the
away team dressing room to my left and saw Des Walker and Lee
Chapman who both looked at me and seemed uneasy doing so. I saw a
payphone and took the opportunity to call my parents to let them
know I was OK but didn’t have any change. Another Reds fan behind me
gave me a coin with no problem – thanks mate.
spoke to my mum and told her I was fine and asked her to call
Bailey’s parents. We had been split up but I deffo saw him escape.
had survived unhurt. A steward then said no more people could use
phone! Why? What harm were we doing? Because we were only fans,
weren’t good enough to be where we were – in the stadium using
phone – even during this hell!
Some Reds fan then shouted at this steward that he knew his brother
behind the goal in all that! Why shouldn’t he use the phone? I
don’t know what happened next as I left the stadium through some
door by where I was.
walked around the ground back towards Leppings Lane . Some fella
stopped me saying I shouldn’t pass this way as it would be too
upsetting to see what was there. I told him I’d be OK but he
insisted in the nicest possible way and so I left it and took a
detour. While I knew what he had meant, I had already seen
everything and it couldn’t be any worse. I appreciated the gesture
……………….MORE to follow….