SOCCER STARS LASH 'THUG FANS' CLAIM
'Cops aim to get off the hook'
Angry Liverpool players hit out last night at police claims that some fans behaved like thugs in the Hillsborough disaster.
Goalkeeper Bruce Grobbelaar slammed allegations that fans robbed the dead and attacked and urinated on police trying to revive victims.
"The police shouldn't have made statements like that," he snapped.
"It's very insensitive. If a small minority of louts did those things they have got to live with it on their conscience for the rest of their lives. But there is no proof and I saw no sign of loutish behaviour."
Grobbelaar added: "It appears to me that too many people right at the top are trying to pass the buck - both police and inside football."
Central defender Gary Gillespie said: "If a few people disgraced themselves as the police allege it is sickening. But I did not see any of those things happen and it seems to be like a cover-up, with the police trying to get off the hook."
Gillespie admitted: "Of course, there was kicking and punching. People were trying to get out of the cage in which they were trapped. They were fighting for their lives."
Both players praised the rescue work of the fans during the horror of Hillsborough.
"The Liverpool fans I saw were magnificent," said Grobbelaar.
"They ripped off hoardings boards around the pitch to carry the injured to safety."
And Gillespie said: "If it had not been for the fans who helped there would probably have been even more deaths. Those people deserve a medal."
Labour leader Neil Kinnock spoke last night of the "deep sense of hurt" felt in Liverpool over the allegations against fans.
He was speaking after a visit to the city in which he laid his own floral tribute in the goalmouth at Anfield.
One Liverpool fan, John Neil, stopped him and begged: "You've got to do something for us. Somebody has to stand up for the people of Liverpool. The things the police are saying just aren't true."
As he left Anfield a visibly moved Mr Kinnock said: "What I've seen here will never leave my mind."
Later he met social workers who were counselling some of the bereaved families.
Mr Kinnock said of the Liverpool people: "They have demonstrated that they have got all the capacity of courage and selflessness and community spirit that are needed on an occasion like this. What they deserve in response is effective action to ensure that those 95 people killed last Saturday are the last people killed."
Where's the proof?
Anonymous South Yorkshire policemen, lacking the courage to give their names, have smeared the dead of Hillsborough and those who mourn for them.
They have attempted to fit up the fans for the tragedy in order to deflect any blame from themselves. It is a dispicable act made worse because there has been no condemnation of it from the Chief Constable, even if he has stopped them repeating it.
The role of the police is to cool passions, prevent crime and, where it occurs, base their conclusions on evidence which has been painstakingly gathered, carefully considered and fairly presented. Instead, the anonymous policemen have inflamed passions in Liverpool, a city where fury is now, understandably, being added to the despair and grief at their 95 dead. The depth of that passion can be seen in our pictures today.
They have accused fans of vile conduct without producing a shred of evidence. A study of the television films and a search through the hundreds of pictures of what must be one of the most photographed disasters of all time, can find none.
And if the police really do have any evidence, they should have reported it, not anonymously but officially, to the inquiry set up to examine their conduct. They have done great harm to the relations between the police, everywhere, and the decent majority of fans, everywhere.
And they have done so for the basest of motives: to save themselves.
The rebel flies back to tears and sympathy
A player who deserted Liverpool football club a year ago returned to Anfield yesterday with tears in his eyes and said: "I've come back to help."
Craig Johnston walked out on his £125,000 contract in the week of last years Cup Final. Standing on the Kop once again yesterday, after flying back from Australia, he was greeted warmly by fans.
"I had to come back," he said simply.
"A lot of people in this city need a lot of help and I will stay for as long as I am needed and wanted."
Craig, 28, is already close to tragedy. His younger sister Faye lies in a coma after being affected by gas fumes during a holiday abroad.
"I know what it is like to suffer," said Craig.
"I hope that what I have learned can help others."
CITY'S CONVOY OF SADNESS
A convoy of hearses brought the bodies of some of the Hillsborough victims back to Merseyside yesterday.
They were taken to funeral parlours and grief-stricken homes. Among them were amateur referee John Anderson, 62, who was found crushed to death by his horrified son, Brian.
As the bodies arrived there were calls for a national day of mourning. People on Merseyside are being asked to observe a minute's silence on Saturday at 3.06pm.
It is even hoped that drivers will stop their cars.
"We are seeking a wave of silence," said Tranmere Rovers vice-chairmanFrank Corfe.
A nine year old boy has been given new life because of the death of 14 year old Lee Nichol.
The Youngster underwent a liver transplant in Cambridge just hours after Lee became the tragedy's 95th victim.
Lee, from Bootle, carried a donor card and his parents agreed to the transplant after his life support machine was turned off.
Princess Diana, who had stood at his bedside and spoken to his parents, was said to be devastated by his death.
Nottingham Forest, Liverpools opponents in the fatal cup game, opened their doors to fans yesterday in a bid to help them come to terms with the disaster.
There is also a special telephone line to counsel Nottingham fans.
'I saw deaths at 2.45'
Fans died inside the ground nearly ten minutes before police opened the Leppings Lane gates, it was claimed last night.
The order was given at 2.54pm to relieve the crush outside. But survivor Adrian Wood said there was already carnage on the terraces.
Adrian, 23, of Stoke-on-Trent, said: "People were dead in that ground from a quarter to three. At ten to three I was not standing on the floor - I was standing on people."
Police would not comment on reports that five Liverpool fans died OUTSIDE - forcing the decision to open the gates,
A vital "witness" in the inquiry is now a police video camera. It covered the Leppings Lane end and recorded events before the gates were opened.
Scarves to make chain of sorrow
Soccer fans are to make a mile-long chain of sorrow with their scarves on Saturday.
The red and blue "ribbon" will stretch between Anfield and Goodison as Liverpool and Everton supporters tie thier scarves together.
Taxi drivers Tony Atkinson and Jimmy Plunkett planned the link-up to raise cash for the disaster appeal. They hope Liverpool manager Kenny Dalglish will tie the final knot at the Kop. It is just one of hundreds of schemes to raise money.
Soccer mad Glenn Fielder, 18, of Chingford, Essex, is to auction a signed Gary Lineker Barcelona shirt. It was given to him when a vicious knife attacker ruined his dreams of becoming a footballer.
On Sunday 100 Liverpudlians are joining local DJ Johnny Kennedy running the London marathon. And Forest fan Paul Lowe is staging a sponsored walk from Nottingham to Liverpool via Sheffield.