slice of life

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 31 May, 2005, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 31 May, 2005, 12:00am

From the South China Morning Post this week in 1985

Thirty-eight football fans were killed and hundreds injured when they were trampled in riots before the European Champions Cup Final between England's Liverpool and Juventus of Italy in Brussels.

Liverpool fans attacked Italian supporters after breaking down fencing separating the two sides about an hour before the scheduled start of the traditional highlight of the European soccer season. In the ensuing fight, a brick wall in a section of the Heysel stadium collapsed.

Some fans were crushed and others pushed forward into the milling crowd of rioting supporters. Crush barriers gave way as panic gripped the trapped fans.

As they struggled to reach safety at the edge of the soccer pitch, some were pushed to the ground and trampled to death while others were dragged over nearby fencing to safety.

An hour after the game was due to begin, rival fans were still fighting inside the stadium and police moved in repeatedly to arrest and separate supporters. The following day, Britain accepted blame for the soccer riots and offered GBP250,000 to families of the victims. Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher announced the gift as an 'initial payment' after emergency talks on the disaster. She said she wanted the 'thugs who destroy football' caught, dealt with and banned from grounds. Most of the 38 killed were Italian.

The aftermath saw the Belgian government ban all British soccer teams, from national squads to schoolchildren, 'until further notice'. England's Football Association said it was withdrawing all English soccer teams from European competition the following season.

The executive committee of Uefa banned English clubs from playing inter-club matches in Europe indefinitely.

Liverpool, whose supporters had been blamed for starting the riot, would be referred to a committee for special sanctions to be taken. Belgian officials had said they expected Uefa to ban English clubs from Europe for three years and Liverpool itself for five years.

Mrs Thatcher announced a big crackdown on soccer violence, with police powers extended and alcohol banned from football grounds.

It was the second major tragedy to hit the soccer world in a month. Fifty-three people died when a wooden stand at Bradford went up in flames during a Third Division game between Bradford City and Lincoln City earlier in the month.

A Hong Kong container ship was drifting ablaze with one crewman believed dead and two others missing after it was hit by missiles in the Persian Gulf.

Two rockets, believed to have been fired by Iranian warplanes, struck the 14,258-tonne Oriental Importer and exploded in its crew quarters.

A spokesman for Island Navigation, the ship's operator and a member of the CY Tung Group, said the attack took place when most of the 28 crew members were asleep.

It was doom and gloom among public transport providers two days before the MTR Island Line opened.

An overcapacity in public transport was expected to last between four and five years and would mean insufficient business for all operators - including the Island Line.

Jittery public transport companies on the island estimated at least a 20 per cent drops in their revenues. The China Motor Bus Company, which carried roughly a million passengers daily, decided against scrapping any routes that ran parallel with the MTR until it knew what choices the public would make - and until any losses became clear.

British police made 520 arrests during pitched battles with hippies who tried to stage an illegal pop festival at the ancient monument of Stonehenge.

Fighting broke out after a convoy of ageing vehicles tried to smash through a police barricade set up about 15km from the prehistoric stone circle in southern England.

Stonehenge had been the site of a free pop festival, but that year the owners of the monument and surrounding land won court injunctions banning it.