Hillsborough; Spurs v Wolves. F.A.Cup semi-final, 1981

I interviewed Neil Irving for the documentary, a Spurs fan who was at the Hillsborough stadium for the 1981 semi-final v Wolves. I am massively grateful for him for giving his time so freely to help tell the real truth of the Hillsborough disaster. He’s one of many rival fans who have offered support, solidarity and who are only too aware that this disaster could have happened to them. For Neil, he came closer than most other club’s supporters to that horrendous reality.

Neil was behind a crush barrier on the Leppings Lane terrace, and when the crushing became unbearable he lifted himself into the air so his ribs were clear of the barrier. He ended up spending 90 minutes pinned in the air, with the weight of the crowd behind him pinning his thighs firmly against the crush barrier. The crucial difference in 1981, is that South Yorkshire Police opened the gates at the front and let over 500 Spurs fans spill onto the perimeter of the pitch as you clearly see in the video below.

This is a video that Neil has put together himself, which shows Tottenham fans spilling onto the pitch that day:

 

If you are a Spurs fan, and you were at Hillsborough for this match in 1981, please leave a reply with your recollections below.

66 thoughts on “Hillsborough; Spurs v Wolves. F.A.Cup semi-final, 1981

  1. I also suffered a similar fate. Although I wasn’t behind a barrier, I couldn’t move my arms and my feet were off the floor for most of the 2 hours. I also remember they moved the fans from pitchside into the Kop with the Wolves fans. Which unfortunately resulted in a few “scuffles”.

  2. I was a Wolves fan at that match. I remember the Spurs fans being put in with us. Given the amount of football-related violence occuring around that time it was a very risky move so whatever made it necessary must have been even more dangerous.

  3. i was in the spurs end and was pulled out and taken up to the wolves end but as they started to put us in with the wolves fans some punches were thrown and i ended up watching the game from the side of the pitch. was only 16 at the time and thought it was all a laugh if not a bit frightening,it didnt hit home how lucky we were til 8 years later,why were those gates not opened on that day in 89???????????

  4. I was there. Remember only too well. I arrived at the ground just before kick off, and was allowed into the ground, but the police would not let us onto the terraces, because they said their were too many supporters already crammed into the Leppings Road end, and they were spilling over on to the touchline, we were told to leave the ground for safety reasons, so sat outside the ground listening to the game on the radio. Thankfully there was no major disaster, but I remember clearly a lot of supporters, including myself wrote to the club complaining about the cramming in of so many supporters into the smallest end of the ground, when the Wolves supporters, whom had the other end of the ground, which was the bigger end, had far fewer supporters at the game.

    Unfortunately with disastrous consequences, the authorities took no notice, and we all know what happened a few years later.

  5. Four of us drove up to that match. We were told that there would be tickets waiting at the ticket office for us (organised by a friend of a friend). I was highly sceptical (I won’t name the friend of a friend publicly, but he was a very well-known player/personality) but went along anyway.

    Inevitably, there were no tickets for us and we joined the other (very many) ticketless Spurs fans at the Spurs fans’ end to see if there were any being touted.

    It was heaving and we were on the verge of going home when remarkably somebody decided to just open the gates and let everybody in to avoid a crush (ironic). I seem to remember it was in the corner of the ground. Obviously, this sudden influx had a massive effect on those already inside with the consequences already documented – crowds spilling onto the pitch because the gates had been opened.

    When the disaster happened with the Liverpool fans I remember saying to everybody how this very thing had happened to us. But for the sanity of somebody opening the gates or fencing onto the pitch, it would have been carnage.

    If I’m honest, I think that the instructions to open the entrance gates probably came from the many mounted police outside the ground, they seemed to becalling the shots. From their point of view, it was probably the most sensible thing…to clear the crushing outside. I guess they hadn’t considered the knock-on effect. There can have been no malice in their decision, just carelessness. I hope.

    1. Being 16 at the time this was my 1st semi final with spurs and one I will never forget, got in ok and made our way behind the goal, our end soon filled up and before we new it was packed solid, had no idea of what was going on until a couple of young lads were pushed to the front of the stand by 2 worried looking dads and within 10 minutes a gate opened and 1500 plus spurs fans ran the length of the pitch and got in the wolves end at the time .

  6. I went to this game with my Dad to support Wolves. I was 14 and had travelled to number of away grounds in the previous year or two.

    I remember the Spurs fans spilling onto the pitch and the announcements being made on the PA system asking the Wolves fans to move over and make some space for the Spurs fans which, at the time, was met with great hilarity from our fans. It was pretty packed in the Wolves end (the Kop?) but there was no crush other than the usual movement that you would get on a terrace. I didn’t realise that some Spurs fans had actually tried to enter our end but I’m not surprised to hear that that resulted in a few ‘scuffles’! I remember that the Spurs fans ended up just sat around the perimeter of the pitch which was obviously an unusual sight but the reality of how bad the situation was didn’t hit home until the Hillsborough Disaster.

    I have recounted this story to friends over the years and it is important that it should be brought up in the documentary. Perhaps if there had been more fuss about it at the time the Disaster could have been avoided.

  7. I always think of the Spurs v Wolves semi-final when the Hillsborough tragedy is mentioned. We are Spurs fans that had tickets, but arrived late at the ground – about 10 minutes after kick-off. We were allowed into the Spurs end, but couldn’t get on to the terraces due to the numbers of people already there. I ended up watching thefirst half standing on a wall clutching on to a fence.

    At half-time the police escorted us & other Spurs fans who couldn’t get on to the terraces to the Wolves end where they formed a human barrier between the two sets of supporters. I don’t recall any trouble, but 10 minutes from the end the police disappeared leaving nothing between us and the Wolves supporters. We left at that point.

    It is clear that nothing was learnt from this and the Hillsborough deaths were a tragedy waiting to happen.

  8. I was there too. Got there early, and we decided to go to the upper part of the terrace in the corner. This too ended up packed, but not the same degree as behind the goal. Recall vividly the supporters lining the edge of the edge, and those taken to the other end. I wrote to Justice Taylor after the disaster recounting the problems we faced in 81. Still have the reply letter I received, and thankful it didn’t happen to us.

  9. As a 17 year old mad about Spurs girl I was so excited to of travelled to this ground for our semi final against Wolverhampton Wanderers. After arriving in good time my friend and I found ourselves at the front of the stand with the metal barrier in front of us.

    Whilst waiting for the game to kick off it was already clear that the stand was really full. As soon as the whistle blew for the start we were being pushed against the barrier, it really was the scariest moment of my life. People were shouting for people to move back but the more they shouted the more you were being crushed. It was pretty clear that we had to get out of there. My friend pleaded with people to help us back, some kind people actually picked me up and I was passed overheads. We managed to get out to the back of the crowds and were amazed at the police some on horseback pushing the crowds into the stands!! We spent the whole game without one look at the game!! We were devastated having travelled so far from London to see our team that we missed everything. I will say since this day I have a fear of large crowds!! God Bless you “96” x

  10. Following the revelations today (12/9/2012) I was prompted to look this up. There were a few occasions I was crushed following Spurs but this was the worst. We looked from the Leppings Lane end and couldn’t believe the space in the, larger capacity, Wolves end. I thank those who led the way onto the pitch. I seem to remember that Ken Bates was in the news at the time considering building a fence around Stamford Bridge and electrifying it! We all agreed, as we stood pinned in trying to move, that this stupid action would lead to deaths. It’s hard to believe what us fans put up with. Everyone should read Brian Reade’s piece today in the Daily Mirror. My heart truly goes out.

    1. I should add that; after the game my friend was trodden on by a police horse (‘controlling the crowd’). We spent most of the night in a Sheffield hospital! Still, given what happened 8 years later, we should be thankful that’s all that happened!

  11. I attended with my 62 year old father and my 13 year old daughter. On approach to the ground was stopped by the police and told that my daughter was carrying an offensive weapon and to get rid of it. This was a Spurs flag on a bamboo cane. It was rumoured that the police were from Manchester as they were more capable of the crowd control than the locals. I stuffed the flag pole down my trouser leg and limped to the ground. At the ground it was quite congested and some of the turnstile operators were taking cash on an all ticket match. Inside the ground it was heaving at the Leppings Lane end and supporters from the ground terrace were being pulled up to the upper tier to avoid the crush. We were safely on the upper tier. Wolves supporters had the largest open end although being in the minority. A policeman explained that this was due to a police decision that the fans coaches be routed around the city of Sheffield in different directions. I was 35 years old at the time and quite fearful for my young daughter and 62 year old father.The situation improved when finally Spurs fans were allowed on to the pitch and some put into the Wolves end. It’s unbelievable that no lessons were learnt from this 1981 happening. It left me feeling that as a mere football fan your safety and well being didn’t count and you were worthless.

  12. The police that escorted us to the other end at half time were definately from outside the area. If memory serves from Humberside. They were hard and totally uninterested in our safety. They made it clear that if we didn’t do exactly as they said we were on our own.

    With my love & sympathy for the reltives & friends of the 96.

  13. I had waited all my 17 years dreaming of Spurs winning the FA Cup. Finally we made it into the semi and I travelled up with my mum and dad to watch the biggest match of my life.
    We were seated in the left corner of the leppings lane stand and had a perfect view of what happened that day.I remember children and teenagers being passed down and passed over the fence and people climbing over for what seemed like ages until they opened the gates. I remember thinking that they must be letting in more people than should be allowed for this narrow terrace and feeling relieved that I was safe and secure with my folks in the seats (first time I had felt that way for a few years). We went on to win the cup and it was incredible as I had dreamt of this ever since I was a mad keen 5 year old.

    Eight years later I came off the football pitch after an ordinary Herts league match to be told about the Hillsborough semi final disaster. I didn’t shower after the match, got in my car and cried all the way home. I thought of what I saw eight years earlier and knew straight away that this tragedy should never have been allowed to happen.

    The extent of this cover up is so shocking. Not my problem and a blame culture is one of the worst human traits and as we have seen causes death and destruction.

    Football changed for me forever on that day!!

  14. I was there at the Spurs end, sitting in the front row of the seats. We pulled people up from the standing enclosure and made room on the seats for them. At least one reported that the crush was due to the gate staff accepting cash to let people in. This was an all-ticket match.

    On the way out of the game we exited through an area that had a bottleneck created by two brick walls. Just in front of myself and a friend a youngster tripped over right in the fiercest crush. My friend and I stopped and held the crowd back for a few seconds to allow the youngster to regain their feet. We then seemed to pop out of the bottleneck like a champaigne cork. This too could have turned into a tragedy had the crowd either trampled the youngster or had a pile-up of people occurred as a consequence.

    Spurs fans were lucky that day. No lessons were learned by the police.

    It has always surprised me that no-one has ever appeared to link the two events. Hillsborough was a predictable and avoidable tragedy.

  15. i have never before felt i had to comment about anything on any football forum but after what happened to my brother and myself at the semi between Spurs and Wolves always felt that (surviving it and cheating death) it was a very lucky escape, especially after the 96 fans that perished. Listening to the legal representative of the 96 today on the radio who confirmed that the’81 semi final game was when the authorities first knew conditions were unsafe leaves me in no doubt that criminal charges for manslaughter against anyone living and in authority at the time must be instigated. 96 dead for what? For attending a football game.

  16. Wolves fan- not at this game but around in that era. This is truely shocking. All the same warning signs and all the same inidividual failings and worst. No lessons learnt and the innocent always suffer. We must always come together in rememberance for the 96 and all others affected on that day.

  17. unreal for years i have been telling people about the time we were crushed at this match spurs v wolves 1981 and we were saved from a disaster because the fence was opened and were let on edge of pitch ,once the fence was opened the releif on peoples faces was a sight to behold it was scary, a disaster was waiting to happen and some one knew it !

    1. I was 15 years old and behind the goal with my sister Maggie i can clearly remember the panic on peoples faces.I also have a vivid memory of people cutting hands and arms desperately trying to clamber over the spiked fence as we were squashed against the wall. How lucky we were to escape that day!

  18. As a wolves fan I was at Hillsborough that day and witnessed the crush behind the Leppings Lane End from a stand alongside.the pitch. Many spurs fans were allowed into our area by a clearly overwhelmed police. Unfortunately no surprise to me when disaster struck some years later.

  19. I was at the Leppings Lane End in 1981 supporting Spurs. I was 24. 4 of us drove up from North London, arrived in Sheffield at 1pm and because of traffic snarl ups, we eventually dumped the car and ran about 4 miles to the ground. We arrived late at about 3.10 and couldn’t get through the crush on the entrance to the terrace. We stood at the back and could see half the width of the pitch as long as we prepared to be very uncomfortable. All the time guys were forcing their way back off the terrace saying they couldn’t stand the crush anymore, they were exhausted and covered in sweat. When we left the ground I said to my friends “THE GREEDY B**TARDS OF SHEFFIELD WEDNESDAY HAVE OVERSOLD THE GROUND. I BET THEY DO IT EVERY YEAR”. I would like to see the tickets sales of that year and the subsequent years including 1989 investigated. If indeed they were oversold then the officials of Sheffield Wednesday and the FA should be accountable. We only missed a game, my heart goes out to those affected in 1989. Barry

  20. As a Spurs fan I too went to the semi-final in 81, we travelled up by coach and got to the ground later than expected but managed to get in at around 2.30, once on the terrace in the Leppings Lane end we were swept down towards the front very quickly with no chance of steadying ourselves, my friend and I were quickly seperated and I remember my fear for getting crushed behind a barrier which fortunately didn’t happen to me but I can recall many who were screaming for any respite, my arms were locked, I couldn’t breath and my feet didn’t touch the floor for what seemed ages, eventually the pressure eased and the relief overwhelmed an awful lot of people. 8 years later the same happened and every Spurs fan who attended in 81 must have shivered at the thought of what could have happened then. My heart has and always will go out to the 96 who perished that fateful day, especially as it could so easily have been us.

  21. That year i followed Spurs to most away matches, and to be as safe as possible used the official club travel section, I went by train very early and went straight in to the ground, I didnt go in to town or any pubs or drink on the way up there as this was the biggest Spurs match of my life and I didnt want anything to spoil it. because I was early I got a good position (I thought) behind the goal. as kick off drew near the crush began. Because it was a semi-final I was expecting it to be a crush and being at an away ground was used to the bad treatment we recieved as visiting supporters however the crush was worse than normal, the funny thing I found was that the times when we got any relief from being crushed was when Spurs scored and the crowed cellebrated only to be crushed again only this time a bit more over to the left. I do remember lots of Spurs fans being escorted to the other end but were attacked by Wolves fans on the terrace so they came out again and sat along the side of the pitch. I dont ever remember that being reported. I thought at the time I would like to have taken my chances in the Spurs end than fed to the opposing fans. I could have died as I was near the front and done everything that I was supposed to do as a good supporter and to have been blaimed for being the cause of it would have been hard to take, not for me as I would have been dead but my family left behind. I hope the families from Liverpool get justice in their long battle for some sort of closure after the event.

  22. I am a Spurs from the Midlands who also witnessed what happened. It is true what people have been reporting on here about turnstile operators letting people in for cash bungs.

    My friend and i had queued up at the Wolves ground to eventually get tickets, obviously for the Wolves end but when we got to the ground we tried our luck to see if we could get in with the Spurs supporters in the Leppings Lane end .I said to the turnstile guy any chance letting us in we are Spurs fans with Wolves tickets “Give us a fiver and i will let you in ” They must have made an absolute fortune that day.
    96 lives should have never been lost if the authorities had done there homework RIP THE 96

    1. I take your point about the turnstile operators taking cash to admit people, and I have heard that happened from others at the Spurs game.
      However, it didn’t happen in any significant numbers in 1989. The HSE studied hours of video footage after the disaster, counting in the fans, and found that there were not too many people in the terrace overall.
      The problem was that the tunnel immediately in front of the exit gate that they opened, led to two, small pens behind the goal and it was the most obviously way to get to the terrace. As the police / stewards didn’t close off access when full, it became fatally over-crowded.

  23. i was a 16yr old at my first semi final..it was 1 ticket my grandad got for me for 1987 Leeds v coventry…i went in alone to the leppings lane end.it was very cramped and scary.when Leeds equalised i was forced forward..could not move or get out of the way..some big guy lifted me up or i would of been injured for sure.it was a disaster waiting to happen.

  24. Just watched some footage of that day in 1981 and it sends a shiver down my spine . I was right in the middle behind the goal with two of my mates and was lifted off my feet for most of the game by the force of the crowd . When those 96 people were killed I knew it could of been me . Shame on the people who lied to cover the truth .

  25. Not on twitter or facebook so have e-mailed.

    Was at the 81 semi with three others. Police made us go to the next junction past Sheffield on the motorway which created a big traffic jam so got to the ground late like thousands of others. Ran all the way from the car park as game had started.
    Got to our end and it was heaving outside with lots of shouting at the police going on. Managed to fight our way to our gate and was told by the police we couldn’t go in. Said we had tickets which met with the response of f*** off you southerners. Heard afterwards that police were drafted in and had it in for us anyway.
    Managed to eventually get to a turnstile but two got split up from us and we didn’t see them until after the game.
    We had to go up a set of stairs to the upper level and were amazed to see Spurs fans fighting each other to try and get in. The one’s already in their said there was no room and were pushing people back. Finally it all calmed down and we managed to squeeze in the top enclosure.
    Then we saw problems down below and people spilling on to the pitch. Most of these people were then marched to the other end of the ground and put in with the Wolves supporters who proceeded to pelt them with coins. The Kop end wasn’t full so why were we given Lepping end??
    After the game we met up with the other two who said they were hearded into a tunnel where they thought they were going to collapse from the heat and the pressure from behind. People just kept pushing to try and get in, which is when they opened gates to relieve the crush and they went on to the side of the pitch and eventually up the other end. They were absolutely terrified and said it was an horrendous experience. As soon as I saw the disaster on the TV I immediately knew what had happened as it almost happened to us.
    Hope this helps, regards,
    Trevor

  26. hi my names mike i went to the 1987 semi leeds coventry and the leppings lane terrace was divided ito compartment middle and two end.Although there was the right ampount of people in there most were funnelled into the middle section which probably happened in the liverpool game too.The middle section was dangerouse dureing our game but we were lucky.We were also stopped a few hundred yards from the ground,and only let near turnstiles a few at a time so dont think it was anything to do with the gate being opened purely down to fenceing between sections im sure of that!
    yours faithfully

  27. I remember wearing some brand new red shoes. The were ruined by the time I left the stadium. I am 5’5″ and my feet barely touched the ground for 90 minutes. Absolutely squashed and didn’t watch much of the game.

  28. I can remember this match vividly. I was a seventeen year old spurs fan. I can picture the crush like it was yesterday. The main issues were that the crowd came into the stand via the rear, so as the stand became overcrowded people pushed from the back thus crushing those nearer the front. I can remember clearly people pleading with the police to open the gate at the front of the pitch to relieve the crush but there was obviously no one senior to make the decision to allow the gate to be opened. Fans started to scream, throw and spit at the police in an attempt to get the gate opened. Finally the gate was opened but then because the opening was higher than the floor people couldnt raise their knees to get out of the opening because of the crush so people were having to be pulled out from pitch side. I was one of the luck ones who made it to watch the game from the pitchside. Every time I see the hillsborough reports it just makes me realise how lucky we were and how it was an accident waiting to happen. Thoughts are always with you.

  29. The crush at Hillsborough in 1981 didn’t seem a lot different to me than some other games like the away match at Southampton in 1978 when we were packed in like sardines or some of the home matches, when the gates were locked, like BHA in 1977 or Man Utd when we were in the old div 1 in the 78/9 season, although I recall having difficulty touching the ground at Hillsborough.

    I know it took ages to get out of Sheffield, even after a drink, there were queues to the motorway at 7.20pm. But on the car journey home we didn’t discuss the crowd congestion but the game and being cheated with a penalty awarded against us.

    The main reason there were no fatalities was because although there was high perimetre fencing there was no side fencing along the terrace making the pens, unlike 1989, so it gave the crowd more movement to spread out. If it wasn’t for the side fencing the large scale crushing that caused the suffocation of the Liverpool fans would probably have been avoided.

  30. I was 17 at the time and went to my first Spurs Semi Final with my Dad. We were seated in the front row of the stand immediately above the terracing. What should have been a great day was overshadowned by what happened. Directly below us was the worst crushing i have ever witnessed at a match and we thought there was going to be some really bad injuries. I read today for the first time that there were in fact 38 injuries. From what i remember the Spurs fans forced the Police to open the gates to get out and some climbed over the fences. There were small kids and old men in there getting crushed. The fans then sat round the pitch or were led up the other end. I couldn’t understand why Spurs Fans weren’t put at the other (bigger) end. I have mentioned this to a number of people over the years and did try contacting the first enquiry + the BBC but never received a reply. I wish i’d done more earlier. After the game on the way back to the station we were treated like dirt by the police despite behaving well. I could never understand why this wasn’t given more coverage especially since 1989 and although it’s a terrible situation it’s good now that hundreds of Spurs fans are leaving these messages. I was stunned in April 89.Please leave your thoughts on this page and i do hope everything on here is being pointed out to the media.

  31. My recollection…. We arrived late at around 2.55pm there were 2 coach loads of us from Cambridge, we had a supporters club there and travelled to every match. To this day I will never know why arriving late and being herded into the Leppings Lane end we ended up down near the front. I was directly behind a barrier and fans were still coming in behind us, suddenly I was being crushed with my chest against the barrier I could feel the life draining out of me, I was screaming at the police to open a gate just in front of me and gasping for breath. A young copper behind the fence was looking directly at me must have seen the terror in my face, he opened the gate and fans in front of the barrier started piling onto the track behind the goal. I ducked under the barrier and through the gate along with hundred of others. We sat and watched the game on the side of the pitch. I strongly believe that the actions of that copper saved my life and those of others that day. If there had been fatalities that day then surely lessons would have been learnt and no more semi finals would have been held at a stadium which had no valid safety certificate. I echo every decent football fan in the world and thank God that finally justice has been done for the 96 and LFC. The most extraordinary thing about this is that there has been little or no mention of what happened at this semi final back in 1981. Did the police not want mention of this and other problems at semi finals at Hillsborough prior to 1989, as we have learnt of the disgusting cover up over this disaster. This week we have had public and unreserved apologies to the families of the victims from liars and cheats who have covered up the truth for 23 years and have caused untold distress to the families. I hope we see a public inquiry and investigation into those who knowingly perverted justice to be prosecuted for their crimes. I have told my story of events hundreds of times but this is the first time publicly. I wish I had told it a lot sooner!
    RIP at last to the 96.

  32. I was just behind the crush barrier that gave way and seeing that twisted like a pipe cleaner horrified me to think that it was human beings pressed against it bending it like that. The crowd managed to move sideways, climb over the fence or were let out by the police. I remember the screaming and the call for the fans behind to stop pushing – and the message eventually got through. The FA knew this ground was unfit, the local authority, SWFC and the police knew it was unfit – how did they make a decision to play a semi-final again at that ground?

  33. Me and my mate traveled up from Brighton that day and when we reached Leppings Lane, took our position behind the goal (2.30-ish). Gradually we got forced down towards the barrier and the crush became intolerable. My friend tried to push backwards to carve a space for ourselves, but to no avail. We reached a crash barrier and ducked under that for a bit of respite, but not for long because people had the same idea. We were getting really worried about the crush and I remember looking round and thinking “This terrace is far too small for this number of people.” I can’t remember if the game had started, but just as our chests were getting crushed and I said to Gerald “This is serious”, the police opened the perimeter gates and people started filling up the pitch-side track. I remember defender John Lacy (he wasn’t on the bench that day) helping to send supporters along the track. He was a really tall bloke and really in command wearing a brown 3-piece suit. Funny how you remember certain details! Although the life-threatening crush was alleviated conditions on the terrace were still terrible and of course the match went to extra time.

    After the match we crawled out of Leppings Lane utterly exhausted. I was 28 years old and fit as a fiddle. A few weeks before I’d run in the first London Marathon in under 3 hours so was pretty fit and I felt awful.We’d sweated buckets. It was certainly ‘No country for Old Men’! We just wanted to get to the car when we suddenly came up against a line of scowling mounted police who seemed hell-bent on pushing us against a wall. One of them leaned over and sneered “Get back to London, you Cockney bastards”! I’ve never forgotten that. My friend Gerald who is usually very placid, was being trampled, and he said “If that horse goes on my foot, I’m having you off that horse, copper!” It just shows how people had been pushed to the limits. (There was a letter in the Guardian last week, when an Owls supporter traveled to the LL end with his wife for the Huddersfield? game last season. Exactly the same thing happened – rude mounted police riding into them – 31 years later. The SYP still haven’t learned!)

    The rest is History. When the 1989 disaster happened, all the Spurs fans who had been at the LL in ’81, knew that it had been a re-run, without the gates being opened and that the fans weren’t to blame. I’ve always thought that 1981 is the key to what went wrong in 1989. The campaign of the authorities to shift the blame to the supporters is such a massive scandal, that I hope justice will be done. I have said I would testify in any court anywhere if it could help the families of those killed. It was so obvious – the SYP were barely helpful and Lepping’s Lane, as a terrace was not fit for purpose. Thanks for the opportunity to have my say.

  34. as a Liverpool fan i would like to say thank you to all you spurs and Wolves fans that have said kind ward with regards to the 96 who died that horrible day back in 89

    1. Leigh

      I am a 41 year old Spurs fan and I am horrified to be finding out about the 1981 semi-final now. This is an event which was obviously not spoken about greatly after the Hillsborough tragedy but is of great significance when establishing the truth for the 96.

      My heart goes out to everybody connected to the Hillsborough tragedy and I wish the families of the victims success in their quest for true justice.

      We are all human, whichever football club we support.

      May those who perished on the day R.I.P.

  35. I was at this game too and was in the Tottenham end right behind the goal. I don’t remember any crush around me but do remember the crush on either side of where i was….I did get to the groun fairly early. I do remember even before kick off the police tried to put some Tottenham fans in the Wolves end. I do remember the attitude of the South Yorkshire Police. On arrival at the ground a young lad was asked to show his ticket to a police officer…the lad showed the officer his ticket. The police officer told the lad his ticket was a fake….the lad looked shocked and said it can’t be as he got it from Tottenham….the police officer again stated it was a fake and this went on for a couple of minutes…the lad was quite distraught…until the police officer ‘laughed’ and said he was only joking and gave the lad his ticket and pushed him into the turnstiles….Added to this the hostility that the South Yorkshire Police ha towards Londoners in general…..from general verbal abuse…’Can you smell the Cockney shit’….To being threatened by mounted police at Sheffield station after the game…’if one of you London bastards move you will get this [large wooden truncheon] over your head.’

    So 1981 was a just a whisker away from disaster…and left me with a fear of Hillsborough and the South Yorkshire Police……Justice for the 96.

  36. I attended a Sheffield Wednesday v Manchester United league game in 1987 with a friend. We both arrived at the Leppings Lane end of the ground in good time and entered one of the ‘central’ pens directly behind the goal. As time went on before kick off more and more fans/supporters entered the pen we were in, whilst the pens to either side remained empty. After a while, even though it did not appear dangerous, the pen we were in seemed to be becoming ‘uncomfortably’ full (a bit like a tin of sardines). Supporters were shouting at Police to open the gates within the fences between the pens so to allow supporters to filter though into the empty ‘side’ pens. If not immediately, thankfully, after a while Police opened the gates within the fences and some supporters moved though these gates within the fences into the emptier side pens to alleviate the crowd build up. After the 1989 semi-final, I keep thinking to this day, could my friend and I have been either injured or killed on this day in 1987. Fortunately on this day there was only a 32,000 odd crowd, although, being Manchester United the away Leppings Lane end was virtually ‘full’.

    Moving on to 1989, I believe probably the ‘only’ and main reason the disaster happened was ‘NOT’ that an exit gate was opened to let fans into the ground; this probably avoided fatalities ‘outside’ of the ground; but that the entrance to that now ‘infamous’ tunnel leading to the two ‘central’ pens behind the goal was not blocked off by a Police or Steward blockade, and the fans directed towards the entrances to the ’emptier’ side pens!

    The above, I think was gross negligence on the part of the Police who should have made sure the above tunnel was completely blocked off! Personally, I would like to see the verdict of ‘accidental death’ which was recorded in the initial trial over the Hillsborough disaster declared ‘null and void’, and there be a complete re-trial, even if it costs more public money?

    I believe that Sheffield Wednesday FC want to make improvements to their ground at Hillsborough, which, I believe, will include building an ‘extra’ tier onto the Leppings Lane end of the ground. Every time I see the Leppings Lane end of Hillsborough I can’t help but think of the 1989 disaster: why doesn’t Sheffield Wednesday FC look at the possibility of building a completely ‘new’ stand at that end of their ground which I sure will help banish some of the memories of 1989?

  37. I remember being carried along with my feet off the ground for ages at the Spurs/Wolves semi and eventually had a barrier behind me which, thankfully, held. It was a massive relief when the fans were taken on to the pitch to the other end as it relieved the pressure. Like Liver pool why were Spurs allocated the smaller end when they would obviously be bringing more support than Wolves. I would love to know who made those decisions. I have been to loads of grounds but never experienced anything like that – it was an accident waiting to happen and I don’t know why the authorities couldn’t see that. I assumed that the same mistake wouldn’t be made twice but I was wrong, sadly.

  38. Yes i was behind the goal left hand side and Nere the fench i was getting crused for at léasqqe 35 mins there was a man in frant of me holding His boy above him saying open the fucking gate we were very luckey that day it took them untill half time to open the gate and when onto pitch never forgot whot happen that day it could of been us that day my heart goes out to all them liverpool fans

  39. As a young Wolves fan I was at that semi-final against Spurs. The overcrowding in the Leppings Lane end, the intense atmosphere and the Spurs fans crouching near the touchline in front of us having been escorted out of the overcrowded stand were the first thing I thought of on the afternoon of the disaster in 1989. On the Monday I thought of contacting the media about the similarities between 1981 and 1989, but others clearly wanted to do the same and had beaten me to it. Shame on the FA for believing Hillsborough was fit to stage such matches and shame on those who conspired to protect those who were to blame for 23 years…

  40. I went to the game in 1981 as a 19 yr old Spurs fan, along with my Dad. We got there around 2.45pm and considered oursleves lucky to get in consdering the crowds outside. We manged to get a perfect vantage point right at the back of the Leppings Lane end, leant against the back wall. We were stood next to a policeman who told us he was from Manchester – drafted in to control the anticipated large crowd. it is not entirely true that Police reacted quickly to open the gates on to the pitch. I witnessed a great many Spurs fans climbing the fence behind the goal and helping others to do so in order to avoid the crush. That night on Match of the Day a friend of mine who travelled to the game separately is seen standing right behind the goal as Wolves score in the first half. Another friend of mine went with his sister who didn’t have a ticket but was allowed in by the turnstile staff after giving a sob story (literally) about losing her ticket on the way to the ground. Clearly 1989 was an incident waiting to happen. There are too many similarities for it to have been unforeseeable. The new inquiry is 23 years too late.

  41. I Was also at htis game, as a 21year old. I travelled up on a coach with 5 friends. All off us were ticketless, given the understanding that there would be many avialable from so called touts. We arrrived outside the leppings lane end around 2.45 along with approxamatly 2000 ticketless spurs fans. The police were getting very edgey and abusive, and decided to open the double gates in front of us before the spurs fans charged it. In we went to what i can only describe a carnige. I was litfed of my feet for around 40 mins. People were screaming around me to open the gates below the fences to allow fans onto the pitch. I saw a copper with a look of horror on his face pleading with his supperier to open the gates, which happened. The old bill escorded approxamatly 3000 spurs fans in the Kop end where the wovles fans were. I can remember quite clearly although being young, fearing for my life. I have been to many games where i have seen fans killed, or beating badly, but that day was like no other. I read in the newspapers that the police had power over where supporters should be housed, for the benifit of escort too the train staition, based apon the clubs fans reputation. Shame on them, and shame on Sheffied Wednesday for alowing this to happen, and not learning by its mistakes R.I.P to those Liverpool supporters that lost their lives because greed, incompedance.

    Tony Farrelly.

  42. I was a 16 year old wolves fan at the other end of the ground. It was the most uncomfortable I had ever been at a football match. Felt we were crammed in too. I am now a fire officer who sits on a safety advisory boards at a number of lower league clubs, that day still sends a shiver down my spine. God bless the 96 for the grace of god it could of been Spurs/Wolves fans or any other team that played in semis there.

  43. I was 16 and this was my 1st semi final, when we got in the leppings lane end I was just happy to be in the ground as it was a nightmare getting in, I was use to being in the shelf standting at the back doing a knees up mother brown and ending up at the front but within 20minutes I could not lift my arms to clap and 15minutes after kickoff my feet were off the ground until they finally opened a gate and led several hundred spurs fans up to the wolves end, the game ended with a dodgy pen and a disappointing draw but looking back on the day and then watching the hillsborogh disaster how lucky was I

  44. I went to that game in 81, and I was 18 and watching my first FA cup semi final with my Dad. We are both Spurs fans but for some reason we had tickets at the opposite end of the ground to the Leppings lane, high up. I remember watching the crush opposite us from the other end of the ground. I remember seeing the police opening up the gates and trying to escort fans along the (left hand to me) edge of the pitch and looking up to work out where they could put them. Whilst they were working it out they made the Spurs fans sit down on the edge of the pitch, and I can remember saying to my dad (in ignorance) what a great view of the game they must have. I am just really grateful that the police officers who opened the gates did so and avoided a huge disaster. Just a shame that whoever they are, they never came forward to give testimony at the Taylor inquiry. It would have made it really obvious that it was avoidable. The Liverpool fans, the families of the ’96 and the 766 people injured will draw no comfort from it, but when the 89 disaster occurred I remember seeing it on TV and saying to my dad ‘there but for the grace of God….’. I hope that finally the apology and latest (and lets hope it’s the last one needed for these grieving families) gets the truth known. The overall emergency response that day was appalling, and thank God that even though his report and recommendations are flawed, football is a much safer sport to spectate today because of the Taylor report. I’ve always felt for Liverpool fans on this issue. We may not support the same team, but we support the same search for truth and justice. You’ll never walk alone whilst this Spurs fan is alive.

  45. I attended the Spurs v Wolves FA Cup semi final in 81. As I live in Scotland we travelled down to Sheffield on the Friday arriving late afternoon. As we didn’t have tickets we were doing the rounds in the pubs trying to source tickets. We managed to acquire 2 tickets for the game but they were for the Wolves end. After arriving at ground we made our way round to the Wolves end and on queuing up to get in the police sussed out there was a few spurs fans with tickets so they told us to go round to spurs end and we would get in. We went to spurs end and right enough they let us in. We ended up in the left side of the end as you look from the pitch. As the kick off got closer I started to feel very uncomfortable about where we were as the end was becoming really packed. It got to the stage where we had to climb over the fence to get onto the pitch as the end was way too crowded. I also remember whilst climbing the fence the police had there batons out as if they didn’t really understand what was happening. I honestly believe if it wasn’t for quick thinking fans climbing the fence a disaster would have happened that day. I’ve always said that day we were very lucky considering what happened to the Liverpool fans.

  46. It was the fans themselves who saved the day, not the police or stewards. I was there with my girlfriend and she was petrified – I’m 6ft 3in, was a fit 26 years old at the time and a big bloke, with 15 years experience of going to stand at football matches and I’ve never been so scared. As we got to the front of the stand, the stewards and police were refusing to open the gates and were pushing fans back in when they climbed the fence. We pleaded and begged for them to open
    the gates and eventually we used our Doc Martins (those were the days) to kick the gate hard enough that they had no choice but to let us out . We sat down the side touchline throughout the whole game. the crush

  47. I went to the game (Spurs v Wolves Semi final at Hillsborough) in 1981 and like someone else had already mentioned somehow ended up in the away end off to the side by the corner flag. I remember see the packed Spurs end with the usual scuffles and fans being led round the side of the pitch and in with us. I remember that people were really agitated but to be honest we didn’t really think nothing of it as these sort of things regularly happened in those days. I often think of the Liverpool game when the 96 were crushed and think to myself how easily that could have happened to me. I went to a lot of games during that time as a young lad and sometimes felt like I was herded like an animal….. although there were problems in those day this herding di nothing to help and it’s no wonder there used to be agro.

  48. Never forget that day 17 years old had a ticket for the upper tier but was told by a copper just to get in the ground so ended up in lower tier behind the goal
    Had lost all my mates spent the whole game 6 inches off the ground terrifying
    Many spurs fans trying to get there point across to the coppers before during and after the game but we where basically treated like animals
    Still makes me cry to think about the scousers if the powers that be had listened at the time the disaster could have been averted R.I.P the 96 god bless

  49. I was at this game. By chance, I was given a seat and sat with Spurs fans above the Leppings Lane terrace. Normally, I’d have been standing below with my mates. I was still in my teens and always stood at games… sitting was for old men and kids. But on this day, I was relieved to be sitting. In those days, fans took up their places at least an hour before the game. All I remember was seeing my fellow fans being crushed, including a number of mates. It could have been me. I called down to them, and caught their eyes… holding out my arms, feeling a little smug, as to how much space I had around me. I regret that now, as the crush continued to get worse and there was a feeling, something terrible might happen. As can be seen in the clip, fans did manage to get onto the pitch through a gate and some climbed those ‘death trap’ fences. Though many were injured, no fans lost their lives. If this was not a warning to the police and the authorities, well… what can I say. I so hope the families of the Liverpool fans finally get their justice and the people responsible are punished. Those deaths were avoidable. And coupled with the cover up and smears from The Sun… Hillsborough is one of the most shameful events in this country’s recent history.

  50. I didn’t attend this match, I cannot even remember it taking place. I’ve looked up this site to aquaint myself with what happened. But, the fact is I went to an Albion v Wolves match sometime earlier, it seems exactly the same thing happened there, Wolves fans entering the Smethwick Road end just after kick off, there was an enormous roar as Wolves scored very early, I remember being virtually carried up the steps behind the stand and down the terrace, there was wire fencing running down the terrace segregating fans, as more and more people were pushed down the terrace I and lots more people were being pushed forward onto people who had gone to ground and who couldn’t move, my feet by now were jammed by fallen people and I had no way of moving freely. By this time I managed to get my fingers through the wire fencing, I was being forced down by others behind me who were being pushed too, I remember seeing the faces of people on the other side of the fence, the expressions of sheer terror made me realise even more I, and others were in great peril. As I was being forced down I remember feeling that it must be similar to drowning. After how long I don’t know and how I managed to get out also I have no recollection. I lost my shoes and glasses, at half time I went to St Johns ambulance who had loads of personnal posessions handed in, my smashed specs and shoes being among them. I’m not aware if the police did anything to help or hinder the situation, it was simply what happened at football grounds all over the country in those days. I came away with my life intact unlike those poor souls years later at Hillsborough. I’d watched my team home and away since 1959 but from that day I think I only went to one game again, years later. I find it very difficult to go to crowded places, even a crowded pub makes me nervous.

  51. I think I was 16 young and a little naive excited about going to Sheffield to watch my beloved Spurs v Wolves I got in the Leppings lane end very early almost empty and see it fill up very quickly
    I remember a girl fainting and an ambulance man saying he was going to open the pitch barrier gate to help her. Well I can only liken the gate opening to someone cutting their veins( Respectfully sorry) but the flow of people out of that gate was like a stampede of people who sensed a route to safety and I have to say with no intention of causing trouble but just to survive
    When I was young I was in a few roughhouses with Spurs, watching against West Ham,Chelsea, Arsenal away always where I shouldn’t have been but I was that day actually frightened I wouldn’t get out.Such a shame lessons weren’t learned. I send my respects to the 96 and such such a shame people in power couldn’t see the obvious waiting to happen.
    Respects Francis Neale

  52. I arrived outside the leppings lane end in 1981,to see thousands of spurs fans being crushed after being.marshaled aggressively.,by a number of Police horses,it was14.50.It reminded me of the miners strike. Amazingly a gate was opened to reiieve the crushing,and after about 20 mins I was eventually carried by a current into the tunnel and onto the terrace ,As i saw daylight, I realised that my feet ,were at least 4 inches off the floor, and the power of the crushing was immense.I was forced, towards the left,at this point. I looked up to the seated stand above,and saw panic in the faces of the people .looking down at us.i,new we were in deep trouble.Children were being passed over, our heads to the stand above,adults pleading for help,grown men in,tears .Luckily,another crowd surge forced us to the left towards a gate… the gate was locked, Two young Policeman,were at the gate, but did not have the authority to open it.20 minutes went by until a senior police officer opened the gate, nearly 1hr of hell, I sat next to the pitch,covered in sweat,and in shock.The rest of the game was an irrelevance to me. 8 years on .the horror of 1989 chilled me to the bone.Can I call on all who were in the leppings lane terrace in 1981 to come forward share their stories, and apply as much pressure on syp as possible,in the forthcoming inquiry .Justice for the 96 ,Expose 30 years of police cover up.

    1. I went to this game via the official supporters club train, and was on one of the first trains to leave London so I was one of the first of the Spurs fans to get there. I went straight in to the ground and took up my position in the Leopards Lane end, As the match got underway the crush in the ground was getting serious, I remember fans being lifted over heads to the edge of the pitch and a large group were taken around to the Wolves section as it was clear they had some room in the corner behind there goal but this was short lived because the Wolves fans started to attack these people and they had to get out and spent the rest of the match by the touch line. I was a regular away fan so was used to poor treatment at football matches but this was different I was in the ground early and wasn’t drinking, I had a ticket and traveled by the official supporters club train, and reported my concerns to the supporters travel club manager, I feel for the Liverpool fans because it was just by chance it happened to them and not us. It should not have been left for Chance because there was enough warnings from what happened to us on that day.

  53. I was 13 & with Dad, Sister and Uncle
    We coukdn’t make it into the section in the stands, and were turned back
    When we were making our way up or down I saw a crowd outside behind a gate, (Spurs fans) I saw those gates opened and a large crowd enter, obviously not showing tickets.
    One of my first reactions some 8 years later is that it wasn’t the first time
    I have never seen this raised before
    We attempted to get to the lower terrace, but people were exiting and someone said to my Dad not to try as there was a crush
    we never saw a ball kicked
    My sister wrote to the club and the FA about it all, and now the police have contacted us, July 2015

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