Death in the Sun

The closing weeks of the 1988-89 football season produced a mixture of emotions for me as Tranmere's automatic promotion to the old Division 3 was tempered by the Hillsborough Disaster on 15th April 1989.

Much has been written since and today's article in The Observer is a powerful piece coming as it does a single month short of the 20th anniversary of that day in the sun. It tells of a Liverpool fan shunted into the Leppings Lane end of the ground despite having a ticket for the Nottingham Forest end - he was with his Forest-supporting brother - and the ensuing crush:

  • Within feet of me people were standing dead, bolt upright. Three men had long stopped breathing and were now staring, with a fixed, almost disinterested expression, into the distance. Their faces were bleached white, but turning blue, their lips a cold violet.
My memories of that day have not faded much. Tranmere were playing away at Hartlepool, Everton in the other FA Cup semi so I plonked myself down in front of the TV with a can of Guinness. News started filtering through of problems at the Liverpool game and television pictures began to show the stark reality of what was unfolding: fans with makeshift stretchers purloined from the pitch side. As Ian Prowse sang,
  • Yorkshire policemen chat with folded arms
    while people try and save their fellow fans
The other results - so important to us all each weekend - became meaningless. I had to look up the TRFC result as it had become lost in the ether. I do, however, vividly remember a long-standing Evertonian slumped on the bar of the Stork in Birkenhead, having discovered the news on the way back from his team's victory, and the normal quick banter replaced by knowing silence.

The Prowse song begins with the words,
  • Mckenzie's soul lies above the ground
    In that pyramid near Maryland
It refers to Liverpool folklore: James McKenzie,a wicked man who gambled and lost his soul to the devil.

Liverpool has another soundex soulman: Kelvin MacKenzie.

For those of you unfamiliar with this reprobate's role in the history of the matter, he was Editor of the Rupert Murdoch-owned titfest, The Sun at the time and was forced into a grovelling apology for printing a story headlined 'The Truth', which falsely claimed that drunken, ticketless fans stole from the dead and urinated on their bodies.

It took until 2004 for a full apology to surface as scum is wont to do in an attempt to rebuild circulation figures for a paper whose name is dirt. Mackenzie - in 2006 - though remained unrepentant:
This man is still used by the media as a spokesman on newspaper issues. Sky have him reviewing the papers, and yesterday Channel 4 had him lamenting the slow death of local newspapers and said that without them 'liars would get away with it' without any hint of irony!

So, the memory lingers. Nothing has changed over at Murdoch's empire. The Sun routinely prints lies - see The Sun Lies - and the campaign for justice continues.

Further reading can be found as a zip file at The Kirkby Times