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Munich, Heysel and Hillsborough

Manchester United fans hate Liverpool fans therefore it stands to reason certain things Liverpool fans do will bring about frustration, whether those things are directed at us or not.

However frustrating I find certain aspects of Liverpool fans’ behaviour, I will never find people who sing about Hillsborough as anything but total cunts. Forget football a moment, these are little kids who never went home to their parents, and mums and dads who never went home to their children. They could be scousers or Tories or coppers or anything else I find detestable, they’re still fucking human beings and to make fun of their deaths is the behaviour of total scum.

There’s something wrong with you if you use the deaths of Liverpool fans or Manchester United players as a way of scoring points. Whatever you think of Robbie Fowler or Gary Neville or the FSW or SIR Alex Ferguson, you’re not right in the head if you think having a laugh at innocent people dying is a way of releasing unpleasant feelings for a football rival.


When Heysel happened, Liverpool FC tried to displace the blame from their fans. Their chairman, John Smith, claimed there were lots of southern accents heard in the strands and pointed the finger at Chelsea fans and they blamed the location of the final.

Red and White Kop:

John Smith had told reporters that he believed the trouble to be the fault of ‘Chelsea fans’ – it was nonsense, clutching at straws. There had been fans of other clubs there, there always is in major cup finals, but not in any significant numbers.

It wasn’t just the southern accents that were behind the charging, but it was the stadium that was at fault too.

“The ground was not good enough for an ordinary match, let alone a final,” said John Smith (and you will hear more of the same later).

The aftermath of Heysel was dogged by claims and counter-claim about supporters entering the ground without tickets, and that even those with tickets were not subjected to inspection (and you will hear more of the same later).

Fact is, football violence was an issue for most clubs. What Liverpool fans did at Heysel was no different to what football fans were doing all over the country back then. The difference is Heysel was a shit stadium and 39 people died because of what the Liverpool fans did, charging at the Juve fans.

Had Liverpool made an example of their charging fans instead of looking to Chelsea fans and the standard of the stadium, offering up an apology and taking on full responsibility, maybe the way rival fans viewed Heysel would have been different. However, when Liverpool and Juventus met twenty years later in the same competition, it was clear how wronged the Juve fans felt by Liverpool’s reaction at the time of the tragedy.

Liverpool presented a banner of ‘friendship’ to the Italian club, which listed the names of the 39 Juve supporters that died at Heysel. This was met with jeers and whistles, the away support turning their backs on Liverpool’s gesture and sticking their middle fingers up.

In the return leg, trouble broke out, with fans of both sides throwing missiles at each other. Juventus fans held up banners to remind the Liverpool fans of what they’d done, ensuring they knew there was never going to be ‘friendship’ between these clubs.

Still, it took Liverpool FC twenty years to do this. It took them 20 years to accept any kind of responsibility for what their fans did.

United and Everton fans call Liverpool “murderers” because of Heysel. Had there been an acceptance of their wrong-doings, this tag probably never would have picked up any momentum. “Murderers” is sung at Liverpool because their club and fans tried to wash their hands of what they had done. They didn’t want to acknowledge they had a part to play. Fans all over the country did what they did, but the consequences of their actions were far worse. Bad luck? Certainly. But it wasn’t unlucky that the club’s official stance was to look for others to blame.

There were 27 arrests on suspicion of manslaughter, the only extraditable offence applicable to events at Heysel. The majority of these people were from Merseyside. Some of these people had previous convictions for football-related violence. In 1989, after a 5-month trial in Belgium, fourteen Liverpool fans were given 3-year sentences for involuntary manslaughter. Half the terms were suspended.

The Juventus fans wanted closure. They wanted someone to blame. But Liverpool FC did not apologise and did not accept responsibility.

Four years later, it was Hillsborough.


Now the pricks who sing about Hillsborough, about 96 not being enough, have something with them. I hate the scousers but it should go without saying that I don’t wish death on them. There’s something missing in your brain if you think it’s funny that little kids, teenagers and parents got crushed to death. It’s sick to take any kind of pleasure or enjoyment from Liverpool’s misery and loss where Hilssborough is concerned, but some United fans do. Or at least, are desensitised to what they are saying, and don’t take issue with using the tragedy as a way to goad Liverpool fans.

1. Frustration seems to arise in United fans because of this notion of scousers being ambulance chasers. Nobody loves to hold a minute’s silence like they do, whatever the cause. They’re self-pity city, who mourn the deaths of chickens. So the fact that Hillsborough is brought up time and again, this continual mourning which is never laid to rest, seems to irk United fans. Maybe once justice has been served, and those who were at fault are held to account, things will change.

Again, put on your human-being hat, instead of your football-fan one, and you have to see why the family’s are still banging on about Hillsborough. The police are fucking scum. They fucked up at Hillsborough, they didn’t know what to do, and more people died because of it. There were fans who poured in to the ground without tickets, but the police and Thatcher wanted all of the blame on the scousers’ heads.

The people who died though, they’re not the ones entering the ground late and without tickets. The people who died will have been there early, ticket in hand, waiting for kick-off. The police wanted to make it about football violence, about the fans being pissed, when in reality, any drunk, late fans should have been controlled. They shouldn’t have been allowed in.

After Hillsborough, CCTV footage went missing, police reports were changed, and focus was given to the blame of the fans rather than the negligence of the police. It was a cover-up. On the South Yorkshire police notes which have been made available to the public, there are instructions from a senior ranking police officer scrawled on the front

“Last two pages require amending. These are his own feelings. He also states that PCs were sat down crying when the fans were carrying the dead and injured. This shows they were organised and we were not. Have the PC rewrite the last two pages excluding points mentioned.”

The Sun reckons some Liverpool fans were stealing from the dead and pissing on the policemen who were trying to help them. They reported that as TRUTH but the only TRUTH we know is that the police fucked up.

Hillsborough should make Liverpool fans see how Heyself made those Juve fans feel. Whenever people lives are needlessly lost there needs to be a focus for the blame. Just like Liverpool FC wouldn’t accept their fault at Heysel, the police wouldn’t accept theirs at Hillsborough, and that just leaves the anger, sadness and frustration bubbling under the surface.

2. Frustration seems to arise in United fans because two years ago Liverpool were in the European Cup final again and after singing about “justice for the 96” their fans seemed to have forgotten all about Hillsborough and Heysel.

Fact – they were stealing tickets off their own fans. Fact – they were gaining entrance in to the ground without any tickets at all.

Like at Heysel, the venue was blamed again. It was too easy to get in without tickets, so what do you expect?

If the memory of the 96 meant something to them, I’d expect them not to try and get in to a ground without a ticket. How hypocritical for the fans that went in ticketless to then chant about justice for the 96. Can you imagine if more people had died, what then? Another campaign for justice after they knowingly contributed to recreated the mistakes of the past?

Just like Smith took the blame away from Liverpool for Heysel, Rick Parry blamed the “shortcomings in the management of the situation in Athens.” Liverpool fans blamed the fact they weren’t given enough tickets. The fans are never given enough tickets to cup finals these days, but the club did give out 6,000 of their tickets to sponsors and former players! Whose fault is that?

Even the Hillsborough Justice Support Group made excuses for their fans, saying: we condemn the behaviour of some fans, BUT it was not helped by the way the police acted, they made it worse.

Had Milan fans behaved in the same way, pinching tickets off kids, forging tickets, forcing their way in to the ground without tickets, then you could look at it as problems with “football fans” or with the police or with the management of the event. That didn’t happen though, so it was a problem with “Liverpool fans”.

You started it!

Regardless, the battle between United and Liverpool fans go on. Some United fans do it because they’re sick and want the match the sections of the sick Liverpool fans who sing about Munich, but some United fans are just angry because they hate the scousers and they’re frustrated by their double standards. Liverpool want nothing to do with Heysel but want justice for the 96 fans who died at Hillsborough. They want justice for the 96 but then travel to European Cup finals and force their way in without tickets again.

Some United fans unfurled a banner which read “MURDERERS” before kick-off this season when Liverpool came to Old Trafford. This excused their Munich songs apparently which they filmed and put on YouTube. Our reminding them of what they did at Heysel, something their club washed their hands of, means our club deserves to be reminded of a tragedy where our own died. Perfect logic? The banner was tasteless but it’s not tit for tat here. Calling them murderers isn’t taking the piss out of innocent people who died. We’re not mocking those poor dead Juventus fans, we’re not laughing at those innocent people who died, we’re confronting Liverpool fans with what they did.

At Liverpool’s victory over Everton this season, the away fans started singing “2-0 to the murderers!”. Well these aren’t ‘proper fans’ according to the media and other Liverpool supporters. Really? What would you call the Liverpool fans who able to get their hands on a ticket to the Merseyside derby in the away end at Goodison? They wouldn’t be season ticket holders? Life-long Liverpool supporters? It’s a strange theory that has developed over the past 20 years or so, that ‘real fans’ behave properly. ‘Real fans’ are moral, and good, and don’t behave badly, apparently.

Munich_bannerEssentially though, for as long as there is hatred between the clubs, there will always be these songs. Whenever we talk about our hatred of the scousers who sing about Munich, they respond by talking about the Mancs who sing about Hillsborough.

Liverpool were singing about Munich long before Hillsborough even happened and there were ‘Munich 58′ banners in the Liverpool section at Heysel. So United fans followed suit when they had their own tragedy to use as ammunition.

Still, the “murderers” songs, the “without killing anyone we won it three times”, get lumped with songs about Hillsborough. Singing about Hillsborough is wrong on every level. Singing about them being murderers is confronting them with the deaths caused by them, which their club denied. There was so much fuss when it was revealed United players were singing “without killing anyone” in Moscow. Liverpool forums were calling them ‘sick’. What’s sick is causing the death of 39 football fans, denying all responsibility and blaming someone else.

1oufqr-1Munich and Hillsborough were tragedies. Heysel was an act of violence and should not be compared. Munich is Manchester’s tragedy, Hillsborough is Liverpool’s and Heysel is Juve’s. When Juve have played Liverpool, they’ve been more than happy for it to be known just what they think of the club after Heysel. For United fans to call Liverpool FC fans “murderers” is not taking the piss out of those dead people, it’s confronting Liverpool with a disgraceful past their club ran away from.

My thoughts are with the family members of those who lost their lives at Hillsborough today because before being a football fan, you’re a human being, and if their lot want to sing about Munich it’s up to them. “They started it!” doesn’t cut it when you’re singing about kids dying and the fact some people need reminding of that shows how dangerous and twisted the hatred between our two clubs is.

It’s the minority of United fans that sing about Hillsborough, just as it’s the minority of Liverpool fans who sing about Munich, the minority of Liverpool fans who charged at Juventus fans at Heysel, the minority of Liverpool fans who got in to Hillsborough without a ticket, and the minority of Liverpool fans who got in to the ground at Athens without a ticket. It’s this minority that causes the shit for the rest of us and this minority that won’t ever disappear.

So don’t let the minority of their fans stop you from being human today, or any day. 96 people died at Hillsborough and whilst you don’t have to mourn them, you do have to treat it like you wish everyone would treat Munich: respectfully.

About Scott

Scott is the editor of Red Matters - 50 Years of Supporting Manchester United and an author of Play Like Fergie's Boys and Not Nineteen Forever. He writes for ESPN, The Metro and Bleacher Report. Follow @R_o_M on Twitter.

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  1. Oranges says:

    “The banner was tasteless but I had no problem with it”

    My only real problem with the article, as you said a minority of them caused that horrible incident but that does not give anyone the right to throw it up like that as it helps no one. all it does is create wider divisions. i’d never sing about Hillsborough and I’d never sing about Heysel… Its just not right and only insults our own clubs great history to lower ourselves beyond our respected level.

    Today is a day of mourning for football fans and I hope that is respected by all United fans tonight

  2. Colbert says:

    The issue at Hillsborough wasn’t people turning up without tickets or drunk, late fans, Scott. Nor was overcrowding an issue. Even the Taylor report confirms this.

    The issue was that the police failed to segregate Liverpool fans properly to ensure that a certain number went into the empty side pens. The police fucked up by cramming the Liverpool fans into the central turnstile and failing to recognise that the central turnstile was already over capacity. If the police had done their job properly, we wouldn’t be speaking of a tragedy today.

    It’s easy for us to say that, thankfully, the game has moved on and that authorities have got their act together in the running and policing of the modern game. It’s also easy for us United fans to mock the Scousers as self-pitying when they still demand Justice for the 96, but let’s face it, 20 years on there has been no admission of responsibility or apology from the senior police involved that day nor have there been answers as to why a tragedy on that scale was allowed to happen.

  3. United in Bangalore > IPL in SA don't get it says:

    These sorts of tragedies come and go. Human nature demands closure, and in this case it’s sadly lacking. Lets not forget the initial official report after Munich blamed pilot error. Sad to say it, deflection is often a human trait when it comes to such horrors. Nobody really wants to be the cause, nobody wants that hanging around them for the rest of their life.

    This date history has been littered with tragic incidences some more avoidable than others but none the less they all happened.

    1912: The ‘unsinkable’ liner SS ‘Titanic’ strikes an iceberg in the Atlantic and sinks, killing 1,503 people. 1941: German bombers hit Belfast, including the Harland and Wolff shipyard that built the Titanic, killing 700. 1989: Hillsborough 96

    May those that have perished rest in peace.

  4. AlphaRS says:

    May those football fans who lost their lives at Hilsbrough no matter what the colour of the team they support RIP.

  5. sam says:

    Without killing anyone we won it three times is about the italians killed at heysel. At least that’s what I thought anyways since that happened in europe. Never even thought about hillsborough when singing that song since it happened in the fa cup. I mean it’s not we won it 11 times without killing anyone that is sung.

    I acknowledge it’s scrotey singing songs like that and heysel could have happened to anyone in the 80′s but most teams didn’t have fans turning up without tickets and kicking off outside grounds so that the police would let them in to control them.

    Like you say, they weren’t exactly thinking of heysel and hillsborough when they were flooding into the ground in athens, nor the kids who had tickets taken out of their hands.

    I feel for the normal liverpool fans, the ones who buy their tickets like you and me because they are the ones who have ultimatley suffered for the section of muppets who aren’t real fans, who don’t buy tickets and don’t care who they fuck over in order to get their way.

  6. sam says:

    Oranges, just read your comment.

    I don’t think too many united fans will be bothered about hillsborough tonight more about focusing on us finishing the job

  7. King Eric says:

    An interesting piece on the radio this morning saying that Liverpool want justice yet at the same time alot of the fans are STANDING on the Kop etc thus making it unsafe. They went on to say (and this is even LFC fans) that they aint just standing when on the attack or after just scoring but for the entirety of the game. I understand that standing brings back the atmosphere and all that and happens at alot of the grounds but is it correct to condemn the safety of specific stadia back in the day etc while at the same time ensuring more chance of danger again on the terraces?

    Anyway for the game of football and all those that lost family, friends, loved ones etc R.I.P.

  8. mancaroon says:

    excellent piece scott. i won’t put up with all the shit the dippers whine on about, but I did observe the minutes silence at the weekend watching the match at home out of respect for the poor sods who didn’t come home from a fucking football match. the cunts at the back will get thiers eventually……karmas good for that.

  9. StenhousemuirRed says:

    so it had nowt to do with a load of pissed up ticketless fans then ? it was just poor policing by the yorkshire dibble