News Exercise #136

This news article is concerning a disaster that happened at a football match in 1989. The reason it was in the news this week was that the enquiry into the case has just been completed – it took 27 years.

1. Where was the stadium, why was it not at the stadium of either of the teams, and how many tickets had been sold?
2. By 2pm (one hour before kick-off) it was apparent that not everyone would be able to enter in time. Why was this?
3. Why had the gate C not been opened before, and why was it opened at 2:45?
The result of opening gate C was that almost all of the people entering here went straight ahead into the same small pen (enclosure), which was already full.
4. How did some of the people escape the crush?
5. Due to the lack of stretchers, how were injured people carried out?

Answers:
1. Where was the stadium, why was it not at the stadium of either of the teams, and how many tickets had been sold?
It was in Sheffield, at the Hillsborough, the stadium of Sheffield Wednesday.
The FA Cup matches are played at neutral stadiums.
54,000 tickets had been sold.
2. By 2pm (one hour before kick-off) it was apparent that not everyone would be able to enter in time. Why was this?
10,100 people had to enter through only 7 turnstiles. By 2pm only 2140 had entered, and 8000 were still waiting.
3. Why had the gate C not been opened before, and why was it opened at 2:45?
It was an exit gate, and tickets could not be checked if people entered through there. It was opened at 2:45 because over 4000 people with tickets were still outside.
4. How did some of the people escape the crush?
Some climbed over the fence onto the football filed. Others climbed up to the higher tier.
5. Due to the lack of stretchers, how were injured people carried out?
Police and supporters used advertising boards as stretchers.

It is clear that very poor understanding of crowd control was the real issue here, but also a very bad emergency response. I think there should have been members of the fire department called to assist in breaking the fence. However, I also think that the existence of the fence was an indication of the general bad behaviour of so many football ‘hooligans’ in the 80s. The fences were immediately removed from stadiums following this.
Below is the live TV footage from 1989, which I very clearly remember watching:


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