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Fan complained about overcrowding – eight years before Hillsborough



A football fan has told the Hillsborough trial that he was not allowed into the stadium because of overcrowding – eight years before the disaster which killed 96 Liverpool supporters.

Spurs fan James Chumley told jurors that he had travelled to Sheffield to see his team play Wolves in the 1981 FA Cup semi-final.

Although he had a valid ticket, he said he was not allowed onto the Leppings Lane terrace and never got to watch the match.

Mr Chumley said: “One police officer advised me that at big games the situation was always the same. In his opinion the capacity of the stand was over-declared.”


1981: Overcrowding at Hillsborough

The witness was called by the prosecution in the case of 1989 match commander David Duckenfield, who is charged with the manslaughter of 95 Liverpool supporters by gross negligence – a charge he denies.

Mr Chumley said he wrote a letter of complaint to the then Sheffield Wednesday chairman Bert McGee after the overcrowding at the match he attempted to attend in 1981.

Asked in court whether he had received a reply, Mr Chumley said: “No. But 33 years later the police contacted me.”

Part one of the warning letter
Part one of the warning letter
Part two of the warning letter
Part two of the warning letter

Earlier this week, the court heard that Tottenham Hotspur fans had been badly injured at the 1981 match.

Footage of the 1981 crushing was shown to the jury earlier this week followed by a memo from South Yorkshire Police accepting both they and the club “should be able to improve their performance”.

Defence barrister Jason Beer told the court that the other defendant, former Sheffield Wednesday secretary Graham Mackrell should be judged not with the hindsight of today but by the standards of the 1980s.

He said Mr Mackrell, who is charged with two safety offences, was not an expert in structural engineering.

He told the jurors: “Some of you may think the relatives of those who died have been badly treated over the years by the system but these are not wrongs created by Graham Mackrell.”

Mr Mackrell denies the charges.

The case continues.

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