Today's letter from the Editor
i Editor's Letter: Safe football
Re Hillsborough today, I commend James Lawton (who was there on the day) and Simon Kelner to you. Simon explains how it was Hillsborough (and Heysel) that highlighted the need for state intervention in health and safety – easy as it is to ridicule today.
It is difficult, but important, for younger fans who attend matches today to fully comprehend the culture that pervaded football grounds back then.
My early experiences were at that bastion of mediocrity, Selhurst Park, home to Crystal Palace FC. But the fan experience was universal. Standing on the vast Holmesdale End terrace, we shared the exhilaration, joy, agony, extreme heat, cold and soakings that came with being part of a giant swaying throng, exposed to all elements.
One unforgettable night in 1979 I was one of 51,801 sardined into a stadium with a capacity of much fewer to see Terry Venables' Eagles soar into Division 1 by beating Burnley. It was fantastic and scary in equal measure. Well, almost. I was a teen. Hillsborough and Heysel were yet to happen. It was great!
But I was also there when people behind me literally peed down the terraces; when a fat Spurs fan co-ordinated their invasion of "our" end; when that happened against Arsenal, Chelsea… It was terrifying! The seated capacity is now 26,000. The football and the refreshments are still awful, but fans sit down, and pee in the toilets. These days I go to Craven Cottage with my daughter. It is exciting, fun and – above all – safe for all the family. As it should be. Let no one ever tell you that the bad old days were better.
- 1 Man and woman arrested on suspicion of conspiracy to murder victim of Woolwich machete attack, named as Drummer Lee Rigby
- 2 'Sickening, deluded and unforgivable': Horrific attack brings terror to London’s streets
- 3 Grace Dent: I’m not sure how these people can avoid being called ‘bigots’. And the more ‘civilised’, the worse they are
- 4 Woolwich murder: They killed, then they performed - these men should be starved of our attention
- 5 Woolwich attack: The EDL will seek to exploit this evil crime for their own evil ends
BMF is the UK’s biggest and best loved outdoor fitness classes
Find out what The Independent's resident travel expert has to say about one of the most beautiful small cities in the world
Nook is donating eReaders to volunteers at high-need schools and participating in exclusive events throughout the campaign.
Get the latest on The Evening Standard's campaign to get London's children reading.
Win anything from gadgets to five-star holidays on our competitions and offers page.