Thursday, December 2, 2021

Standing would make Anfield and all Premier League sites safer, says Hillsborough survivor

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The die-hard applicant wishes for “safer standing” with sitting on the rails on the head of Liverpool FC and in all of top football. Hooton, who gave a voice to terrace culture with his fanzine The End in the 1980s, explains his reasons to William Stewart

The Farm singer and Liverpool fan Peter Hooton was in the tragedy on Nov.

Standing should return to all of England’s top class football stadiums, including Liverpool’s famous Kop, because it’s safer, said a survivor of the Hillsborough disaster that started a revolution in terrace culture I.

He had to watch that day as bodies were pulled from the deadly crowd on the terrace of Leppings Lane End; 97 fans died.

But now Hooton, a vocal supporter of the Hillsborough Justice Campaign and one of the first fans to give a voice to terrace culture in the ’80s, thinks it is time for a change.

“I’ve always wanted a secure footing,” he says. “But I kept it in mind because it was so sensitive. The way Hillsborough happened didn’t really have anything to do with standing, did it? It was a breakdown in police control. “

He argues that the current situation with many fans standing in seating areas is “unsafe” and he has the bruises and injuries to prove it.

“Seats aren’t meant for mass celebrations, are they?” Hooton says. “It’s more dangerous.”

His comments come after the announcement last Monday that legal “safe standing” – with specially designed rail seats that give fans a choice between sitting or standing – will return to the Premier League for the first time in more than a quarter of a century.

The limited pilot project, which starts in January, includes four clubs plus Cardiff City in the championship. Liverpool will face Chelsea in their first top division game in nearly 30 years at Stanford Bridge on January 2nd.

Liverpool installed almost 8,000 train seats in August. But the club chose not to join the safe standing pilot, and Anfield has remained a seated-only stadium with fans encouraged to “sit down if possible”.

Hooton says the reality is that he and many other Liverpool fans have stood for the entire game since 2007 when the club introduced a “singing department” into the Kop, fearing that its atmosphere had been lost.

But it happened between seats that weren’t designed to stand. “I have bruises on my knees and shins to testify,” says Hooton.

Now he wants the pilot to go further and be introduced to all Premiership sites, with status officially restored across Anfield-Kop.

“I think it’s inevitable because it’s progress, because it’s safer,” he says.

A survey of nearly 18,000 Liverpool fans conducted in 2017 by the Spirit of Shankly supporters group suggests most agree, with 88 percent supporting the introduction of football pitch seating.

Hooton was the front man of The Farm, the Liverpool indie dance band that became known in 1990 for the top 5 hit “All Together Now”. But as the founder of the original football fanzine The End, he arguably played an even more influential role as a pioneer in expressing the vibrant culture that exploded on British football terraces in the 1980s.

It was an era when a grassroots working class movement blossomed when patio fashion – which still influences how we wear today – was transforming at startling speed and coaching culture first emerged.

It was also the start of a movement to give attendees a voice as The End helped inspire a wave of fanzines.

But Hooton believes something was lost when the post Hillsborough report caused Taylor to all-seaters in the first two leagues from 1994 onwards.

“1994 on the last day of [Anfield] The people of Kop realized that it was the end of an era and people were very sad about it. “

He sees much of the culture that comes from the people who watch football as rooted in being at games.

“Obviously the terrace culture was born from getting together and singing,” says Hooton. “And you don’t sit down to sing, do you? You get up to sing unless you are Val Doonican.

“It is well documented how this singing began in the 1960s when you see recordings of the 1964 Kop singing ‘She loves you’ and ‘Anyone Who Had a Heart’ and similar songs. It was popular culture. “

And it is these days – with the head moving and swaying on the crowd, unencumbered by the crowd control pens that were introduced to the site in the 1970s – that Hooton refers to when discussing the real cause of the Hillsborough disaster .

“We never thought it had anything to do with standing,” he says. “It was the pen system.

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