Reaction to “The Truth” protest

Last night The Kop made a massive and memorable protest which should go down in history, and hopefully it will.

For more on what the protest was all about, here's what the Daily Mirror's Brian Reade said about it in yesterday's paper.


MEMO to Kelvin MacKenzie: If you're doing nothing at 5.15 tonight why not tune in to the Liverpool v Arsenal game on BBC1, where you will find 12,000 Kopites expressing what they think of your persistent campaign to rubbish the findings of Lord Justice Taylor's Report into the Hillsborough Disaster.

It will last a full six minutes. Or as long as 96 fans were left by police to die inside cages while an FA Cup tie played on in front of them in April 1989. But I don't need to remind you of the details, as you know them all. Even though you were 200 miles away at the time.

Because some anonymous Yorkshire copper who was ordered to deflect attention away from his force's culpability, span you a pack of lies, which you gladly published as The Truth, and which cost your newspaper dear.

Perhaps you still loathe yourself for being a submissive lackey who mouthed a false apology at Rupert Murdoch's behest or maybe you're too vain to accept hard evidence and let it go.

Either way you're still telling audiences, like the one in Newcastle last month, The Truth about Hillsborough was that Liverpool fans got tanked up, stampeded a gate, killed their own, and as they lay dying, pissed on them and stole their belongings.

I just hope the Kop's tribute to you evokes a fraction of the anger and pain your continued lies do to the many people still living with the harrowing consequences of British football's most tragic day.

But I don't think it will. Which, Mr Mackenzie, is the saddest Truth of all."

The BBC seemed unwilling to give the protest as much coverage as most of us would have liked, but John Motson could not help but refer to the noise that lasted as promised until the game was six minutes old, with the chants of "Justice for the 96". Motson probably faces censure from his bosses for talking about the protest – but he's well aware of just how horrific Hillsborough actually was. He was there that day in 1989, covering the game for the Match of the Day programme. Hillsborough happened in an era when only the final was shown live, but the cameras were there to record the game. Grandstand would soon carry live pictures of the scenes that were unfolding. Last night the BBC's director seemed intent on trying to hide the mosaic as much as possible, but they couldn't hide it altogether. John Motson's references to the noise and the mosaic were extremely welcome, and I for one am delighted that he had the decency and the honour not to try and ignore it. Well done John Motson.

The BBC didn't have their usual offering of "interactive" coverage last night either, normally you'd be able to watch the game without having to listen to the commentary, with the option of just listening to the crowd noise. Perhaps they were worried about how the Kop would react verbally to their decision to employ the liar MacKenzie on their station. 

Most of the Sunday media have covered the protest, but there were two notable websites who had decided to try and ignore it.

The Sunday Times: "With yesterday’s game shown live by the BBC it started with the Kop leading a protest against Kelvin MacKenzie, recently hired by the corporation, who was editor of the The Sun during its notorious coverage of Hillsbrough. It was extraordinary, a six-minute repetition of a single chant: “Justice for the 96”. So little happened on the pitch at the time it was as if the players were waiting respectfully for the crowd to stop."

The Observer: "To say Anfield was noisy at the start of this Cup tie would be the understatement of 2007. The Kop welcomed the television cameras as promised, with a superbly orchestrated protest over slurs on fans' behaviour at Hillsborough, recently re-aired by Kelvin MacKenzie. He was editor of the Sun at the time of the original accusations. The display lasted exactly six minutes into the game – though with grim irony, fans were warned that holding up placards during play would infringe safety regulations – then switched off with military precision, to coincide with the time when the 1989 FA Cup semi-final was abandoned. The protest was replaced by the type of sustained din usually reserved for big European nights."

The Independent: "There had been an unreal air to the opening six minutes as the whole of the Kop held up red and white cards to form a giant mosaic and chanted "Justice for the 96" in support of those supporters who died at Hillsborough almost 18 years ago. Anyone whose view was obscured would have missed nothing, the first quarter of the game passing without incident."

Sunday People: "The opening six minutes were dominated by an incredible display on The Kop where, to a man, supporters held up cards which spelt out 'The Truth' in letters 20 feet high, a tribute to the 96 Liverpool fans who died at Hillsborough and a protest against the perceived injustice of so many deaths.

It prompted a frenzied atmosphere which seemed to affect both sets of players as they struggled to find any kind of pattern for the first 15 minutes with so many passes misplaced or over-hit."

Sunday Mirror: "It may be almost 18 years since the tragedy of Hillsborough, but the wounds from that terrible day in Sheffield continue to run deep.

Stirred by recent sickening comments made by the former editor of a tabloid newspaper, fans on the Kop held up cards to produce a mosaic which read: "The Truth" as they sang "Justice for the 96."

The main protest lasted until six minutes after kick-off – a reference to the time it took for the authorities at Hillsborough to realise that people were being crushed to death in the Leppings Lane end of the stadium.

When the fans eventually began to concentrate on the game, there was little to shout about."

The BBC Sport website: Nothing. Not a mention. Embarrassed? Ashamed? After all, they employed MacKenzie despite earlier protests and without any sign of concern.

The Sky Sports website: Again, nothing, not a mention. Sky aren't currently part of the boycott of The S*n, but are owned by Murdoch, the owner of The S*n. Then again, so are The Times, and they managed to mention it. Why are Sky ashamed to mention this protest?