Searching For Oscar!

One of the beautiful aspects of London is the constant exploration on offer.  I’ve been coming here on a regular basis for some seventeen years and have always held the belief that you should visit particular landmarks when the moment strikes and not a second sooner.

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34 Tite Street, named after William Tite, one of the designers of the famed Chelsea embankment.  Oscar Wilde moved into this residence in 1894 and lived there until his imprisonment the following year for committing homesuxaul activities.  It was here that Wilde wrote his principle works including “The Importance of Being Earnest”, “An Ideal Husband” and, my personal favourite, “A Picture of Dorian Grey”.

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The street is somewhat easy to find and has been home to some of Britain’s leading artists, surgeons, writers and actors over the decades.  For me, it was kind of how I had previously imagined it to be.  The only surprise is that, sitting opposite number 34 is a horrid 1970’s style apartment complex that most certainly did not warrant time to be photographed.  It would spoil the romance of it all if I showed you exactly what a monstrosity it truly is.

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Being a warm and sunny English afternoon, I expected there to be other Wilde admirerers about but sadly, I was on my own.  This did however, give me ample time to soak in the history of a treasured London steet.  I took a handful of happy snaps before moving on towards Putney Bridge.

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As I turned to leave, I closed my eyes and imagined Oscar strolling along the footpath, pondering life and musing over chapter and verse.  With that, I too pondered my own life and reminded myself how wonderful my life truly is.

My Night Out With Rent Boys

It started early enough.  3:30 am to be precise!  That’s part and parcel of adjusting to new time zones when travelling.  Within two hours, the low flying jets were screaming down over my B&B near Heathrow Airport.  Low and behold, I spent the following hour watching planes fly above my head for a good hour or so.  Beautiful things they are when seen from this angle.

Following a delicious yet dangerous English buffet breakfast, I made a dash for the 11:15 am stadium tour of Craven Cottage, home to Fulham FC, one of London’s oldest surviving football clubs.  Craven Cottage itself is now a heritage listed location so one of England’s most stunning grounds will forever remain in its beautiful state.  The club was originally known as “Fulham St. Andrews Football & Cricket Club”.  Imagine commentators rolling that one out in 2017?

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I’d recommend visiting Fulham FC for a match or at worst, the stadium tour.  Well worth your time to visit one of London’s most beautiful areas.  There are parks and cottages everywhere as you take a leisurely stroll from Putney Bridge tube station to the ground.

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After the tour, I had to bolt like a blue arsed fly in order to make the 2:13 pm train from Euston to Birmingham.  The ticket machine failed to work so I had to pester a Virgin rail staff member to print duplicates before sprinting through whordes of people only to just make the train as the doors were closing.  Lucky break!

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The only remaining seat in the carriage was next to a young Chelsea fan, Joe.  As it happens, we spent the whole two hour journey talking about football and travel.  It’s one of the great wonders of travel.  You just never know who you will meet on the road.  Joe is a dedicated Chelsea supporter. Home and away as well as Europe.  He has a deep passion for the club and is a pretty decent fella to boot.

Once in the Brum, we found a pub heaving with Chelsea supporters which meant a good twenty minutes waiting to buy a beer.  It was good banter and spirits all round.  Bit of a party atmosphere as the Chelsea fans knew a win would secure their 5th Premier League title of the Roman era. Not wishing to spend another twenty minutes waiting to buy a drink, we popped into Tesco for some cans of Stella and jumped a tram to The Hawthornes for more pre-match antics.

Joe moved on to another away pub whilst I faced up to the serious challenge of obtaining a ticket for the match in the home end.  They often say tickets for matches like these are impossible to get tickets for but I’ve never been one to subscribe to that theory so let me tell you why.

Dedpite their still being 1,509 unsold tickets for the West Brom v Chelsea match, the local side refused to offer them up as a general sale in fear of Chelsea supporters getting in and causing trouble. The club were also threatening season ticket holders with heavy penalties if they sold their match ticket onto away supporters.  It didn’t stop some of them doing it though.  There were swaves of Japanese tourists wandering about with Chelsea shirts, selfie sticks and match tickets.  They must spend absurd sums of money to get tickets for matches like this. I personally would never spend stupid money to watch a football match.  Touts are a blight on the game and sadly, too many people are happy to pay £400 plus for a ticket worth £39.

My first trick was to straight up try my luck in the ticket office.  I was met with a stern looking lady who refused to budge despite my trickery.  Next trick was to linger around the ticket office in hope that someone would be trying to offload a spare.  My theory is you see, there are always going to be spare tickets for matches.  You just have to put yourself in the right place at the right time.  Positive energy gets you absolutely everywhere.

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With thirty minutes to go before kick off, it was time to change tactics.  I started openly asking Albion supporters if they would buy me a ticket.  I was met with refusal after refusal and even some stern lectures.  Try, try and try again.  Which I did.  Eventually, I found a young lad who bought me a ticket on his membership and we got in with time to spare.  It was a great match with some decent Albion counter attacking on offer as the game went on and Chelsea pushed for a winner.

That winning goal eventually came for the rent boys from London thanks to some random I’d never heard of, Michy Batshuayi in the 82nd minute.  The winning goal was also the clincher for the title, their 6th overall.  What followed was a blight on the Albion home fans.  Something that was well out of order.

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With scatterings of delirious Chelsea fans in the home end, some of them couldn’t help but celebrate the winner which in turn, led to some Albion supporters battering them beyond belief.  One unlucky Chelsea punter had no less than seven thugs lay into him not too far from where I was seated.  The attackers all looked like bald headed grubby bouncers from seedy nightclubs.  You know the sort yeah?  Now, we are talking abouts pack of  men (grubs) aged well into their fifties laying into one guy who just wanted to see his side clinch the title.  Other pockets of fighting broke out around the ground with some Chelsea supporters having to run onto the pitch to avoid getting pumbled.  The West Bromwich club must take the blame for this by their insistence that Chelsea supporters were not to be admitted into the home end.  If the shoe was on the other foot, you can be certain that Albion supporters would have tried to do the same.

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The rest of the night became a blur with a long train journey back to London where I found my hostel bed sometime around 3 am!  If yesterday was anything to go by, it’s going to be a cracking three weeks ahead.

10 years through the looking glass….

Quite often, I like to take time out and watch other people.  Usually from the confines of a cafe or when awaiting an international flight.  It just so happens that I am currently watching people in the departure lounge of yet another international airport.  A few moments ago, I noticed a young girl with her mum, aged around 7 or 8 years.  It left me wondering where she might be in ten years from now and, in turn, left me pondering the previous ten years of my life.

In 2007, I was a travel agent for STA Travel, living in Stafford on Brisbane’s Northside and in the third year of a relationship that was a few months off ending.  Despite travelling for 7 years by that stage, I still had a house full of furniture and my record and CD collection was, without a shadow of a doubt, the most important piece of my life.

Fast forward 10 years and I have travelled a lot more, changed jobs more times than I care to remember, been through three serious relationships, married then separated, sold off almost all my possessions (the music and books now live in a storage space), learnt to live by modest means (a mattress on the floor with a few boxes of books and some clothes), had a vasectomy, lost all contact with my heroin addict brother, run 7 marathons and 30 half marathons yet, most of all, I have never been more comfortable in my own skin.

Why?  Because I just don’t give a fuck anymore.  I could die in a plane crash today knowing I have been honest with myself and lived a life the way I have wanted to and not been controlled by a bank, an institution or any other person.  It’s important that you learn to not give a fuck because all that worry will just age you faster and give you ulcers.

If I want to travel, I travel.  If I want to eat an entire packet of Tim Tams, then I will devour that packet in record time.  With age and experience comes a diminishing care factor.  I used to worry about what people thought of me.  No more.  In fact, I think I specialise in pissing people off but that is nothing for me to worry about is it?

Like I said earlier, you could die today so why obsess over things completely out of your control?  Go and travel. Go and fuck that hot guy that’s been in your thoughts.  Quite your job if you are not happy.  Dump that girlfriend who nags the living fuck out of you every other day.  Eat that family size pizza.  Run naked on the beach.  Whatever it that makes you happy and feel truly alive……chose life!

Cathay Pacific: Brisbane to Hong Kong Review

It’s been 17 long years since I last sat in the departure terminal of Hong Kong International airport and a lot has changed.  Sadly, this time, I won’t be enjoying the sights, sounds and bustle of the island itself though I should really book in a short trip here later this year because I imagine there will have been a great many changes.  One that hasn’t changed, perhaps worsened, is the dense smog.  I took a photo on the “clear” side of the airport terminal to give you an indication.  The other side was unrecognisable!

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The first leg with Cathay Pacific was a solid one.  Not spectacular however, it wasn’t poor either.  So what did I like about it?  Well, for starters, their check in kiosks and boarding processes are spectacular.  Fast, efficient and fuss free.  Just what this experienced travel junkie loves more than anything.

On board, there is ample overhead luggage space.  The staff are quite laid back and friendly.  Let’s face it, many flight attendants these days put being pretentious and glamorous ahead of offering courteous customer service.  Thankfully, there were no heads up backsides for this leg of the journey.  The food however was, if you can say, a major let down.  Both dinner and breakfast were soggy and tasteless which made me glad that my flat mate had stuffed me with a delicious Polish endured chicken schnitzel before I left home.

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On the plus side for Cathay Pacific was the in flight entertainment on offer.  More movies than you can poke a stick at in fact.  Better still, many of them were recent releases so even a staunch movie buff like myself had plenty of options.  Ironically, I fell asleep and stayed that way for most of the 8 hour flight, waking just in time to watch live coverage of Southampton v Arsenal!  Yep, Cathay Pacific now offer live sport on board.  Subject to availability of course.

On a sanitary level, the toilets were clean, spacious (for airplane standards at least) and offered free toothpaste, brushes and fragrances to keep you smelling as fresh as daiseys!  Of course you are provided with the customary pillow and blanket though the headphones on offer were fantastic.  A push for more enjoyable entertainment experiences is one area few airlines work hard on.  Thankfully, Cathay Pacific excel in this instance.  It would take a harsh critic to feel let down by that element of their service.

I’m unable to report back on the drink service provided as I was dead to the world for the best part of the flight though from what I did see, there was always an opportunity to secure that much desired thirst quenching drop to wet the whistle.  I was a thirsty lad at breakfast time and had my orange juice and water topped up no less than three times! Marvellous that.

In summarising, Cathay Pacific are an efficient carrier who, thus far, deliver a fantastic service at a more than reasonable price (my return trip to London was only $1,300) whilst making sure you are catered for every step of the way.  My thoughts now move to what the standard of food will be like on the Hong Kong to London leg……

Flying Just Got A Whole Lot Simpler!

Always one to arrive early for a flight, I had the pleasure tonight, of using the new self service check in kiosks at Brisbane’s International Airport.  Installed for Cathay Pacific only last month, these fabulous kiosks make preparing for your long haul flight that much simpler.

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No more waiting in lengthy queues or being read those endless script check in procedures by airline staff.  It’s all streamlined for you when you complete your web check in prior to arrival.  For those of you who struggle with fan dangled new technology, there are still plenty of airline staff to assist with any questions you may have should you feel the need.

Overall, it creates a speedier check in service so you can spend more time in the cafe reading your latest book purchase or simply just watch the world go by in comfort once you get through customs.

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It may be early doors however, Cathay Pacific have started well in winning this seasoned traveller over.  Let’s just wait and see what the food and movie selection is like before I pass final judgement.

Dave’s Tasty Travel Tips!

Ok, over the past 17 years or so on the road, I’ve had all sorts of adventures and happenings.  Be it a gun pulled on me in LA, sexual exploits on planes, knives pulled on me in France, getting lost countless times, meeting amazing people and even eating goats testicles!  I’ve not yet done it all, however, I’ve done my fair share and decided to pass on some tips that may or may not get you on the path to endless adventures.

In part one of my travel tips, I hope to provide you with a few cheeky solutions.  So, without further or do…….

STAY COMFORTABLE:

So many people travel on international flights looking like they are important.  Men in suits.  Woman in 14 inches of make up and 6 inch heels.  Get to fuck! Unless you are Jesus resurected then get yer tracky’s on, clean your face of that gunk and stop pretending you are important.  Shoes off, flip flops on. Sorted.  Just leave looking like a pretentious twat up the the flight attendants yeah?

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GET UP EARLY:

A few years ago now, I spent a few days in Venice whilst also heading to Bologna to watch them play Napoli in Serie A.  Now as you can guess or know, Venice in Spring is packed with way too many selfie sticks and tourist traps.  Never before has there been a prime reason to set your alarm for 4 am and be on the streets within the hour.  Venice is a ghost town at 5 am. The sun is already up and the streets are yours to enjoy pretty much on your own.  Within a few hours, you won’t be able to move due to the fat American tourists!

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This rule applies to all the major cities.  Make hay whilst the sun begins to shine and the whordes of tourists ruin those beautiful photo opportunities.

FREE WALKING TOURS:

Why pay £20 to be guided around the streets of London or Berlin when you can do it for free?  Most major cities have free walking tours led by energetic and enthusiastic young history students from local universities.  They are a fantastic insight into the city you presently occupy and if you feel it was worth your two or three hours, you can tip your awesome travel guide a fiver at the end to say thank you and help pay their tuition fees.

A quick Google or visit to the local hostel will give you all the information you need.

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MINIMISE YOUR BAG:

Why take sixteen jackets when you know you will only wear one, maybe two at best?  One pair of shoes should suffice.  Two pairs of jeans, a pair of shorts and some sock & jocks thrown in with some t-shirts is more than enough in most cases.

So often in airport check in counters, I see people struggling to come in under weight.  More so when they are heading home.  Of course they took 23 kg’s of luggage with them not once thinking about the 15 kg’s of stuff they will buy on the road resulting in most of it being thrown out at check in if you are not prepared to pay extortionate excess baggage fees.

It’s also worth checking before you fly with your airline to pre-pay excess bagged which will save you a small fortune.

SOCIAL MEDIA THE SHIT OUT OF IT:

When you book hotels, hostels, flights, train rides or museum tickets, add them to your Facebook and other social media accounts.  By doing this you can score free drinks, 2 for 1 passes, free museum entities and even free meals or breakfast at no charge just by following them on social media.  After all, better to have those few dollars in your pocket then theirs right?

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MINIMISE YOUR TECH:

Smart phones are so clever these days it really seems pointless lugging that laptop or oversized camera about.  And think of the luggage weight and space you will free up in the process?

In 2017 you can safely store boarding passes, eBooks, itineries and music on your phone.  I always load up on podcasts before I head abroad.  You would be surprised by what you can learn when spending hours upon hours waiting for a delayed flight.

You can also download city guides and travel maps which means you can store them on your phone instead of lugging Lonely Planet travel books with you. Simples!

EATING CHEAP:

Beleive it or not but some of the most enjoyable travel experiences come from eating banquettes and drinking water on the steps of landmarks whilst watching the world go by.  Cafeculture can be expensive and chew up your money quick smart.  A local visit to the supermarket can saves you hundreds if you are on the road for a few weeks or months.

As a bonus, it makes those nights in an English pub more enjoyable for not just your wallet but your wasteline too!

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LOCATION, LOCATION, LOCATION:

Fantastic! You’ve just booked a cheap hotel room on the outskirts of the city.  What you failed to realise is that your cheap hotel is only serviced by taxis after 9 pm.  50 Euro’s later, you wish you had saved time and money and just gone for the inner city option.

Often, I have found cheap hotel rooms on the day or the night before as venues try to fill up empty rooms on short notice.  Hostels too are becoming more expensive so chances are you can pay a little more and avoid a room full of drunk Irish backpackers and get a good night’s sleep instead.  When in Asia, you can even stay up late watching Korean or Japanese news services and quirky local drama in foreign tongue.  Come to think of it, ever watched an episode of Baywatch with Bulgarian overdubs? Hillarious I tells ya!

Not Many Reds Like This One!

A few years ago now, 2009 I think from memory, I was flying to Italy via Germany to watch Liverpool play Fiorentina in Florence.  It was the group stage of the Champions League.  Remember those days?  To do so, I found a cheap Ryanair flight for around 10 Euro’s into Hamburg or some such place and would kip down at the airport for the night before jumping another 10 Euro flight the following morning into Florence.  I guess you could say, it’s all part of watching the red men on a tight budget.
The flight arrived in Germany around 8 pm so it left me with around 12 hours to kill before my onward journey.  As I wandered around outside, avoiding the small groups of chain smokers, I got chatting to another red, Jeremy.  Once he realized that I was kipping down in the arrivals hall for the night and, without question, he offered me a place to crash on the floor of his hotel room which was only a short walk from the airport.  It was a kind gesture but it’s also something that football fans often do for each other.  Perhaps because we all appreciate what it takes to watch your team home and away?
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As the night rolled on, we stayed up talking football and family.  Jeremy, as it turns out, had been travelling home and away to watch Liverpool since the early 70’s.  He had some cracking yarns to share of European Cup Finals and league titles won away at Chelsea.  The significant recount of his life as a red though, happened to be his experience of Hillsborough.  I vividly remember hanging off his every word.  It was quite intense and perhaps the reason why I can’t remember exactly what airport we were staying by?
Below is a wonderful read that Jeremy posted on a Liverpool forum many years ago and I thought it was in need of a much wider audience.  Jeremy epitomizes what football fans are about.  A kind and gentle soul who always puts others first and this is his amazing story…..

Having  read Jo’s Hillsborough story and been moved almost to tears I felt maybe I should tell my own  . I realize thousands of people have been deeply affected by the events of that day and many peoples lives were changed forever .  The effect it had on me can’t even begin to compare with those who lost their loved ones but even today it is something that continues to haunt me albeit perhaps irrationally.

I am not a Scouser , I have never lived in Liverpool , to look at me many people would probably class me as an OOTER who probably only started supporting Liverpool in the Glory years and only knew about Hillsborough from the news and didn’t really understand what impact it has had on so many lives.
To some degree that is true as I didn’t  personally know anyone who died that day but in my own way I also felt as if I’d lost members of my own family , such was and still is the sense of unity and belonging among Liverpool fans .

So why am I a Liverpool fan? – no Scouse birthright , I was actually born in London , the son of Sri Lankan immigrants who arrived in England penniless in 1958. I was born shortly after in 59 . Thankfully we moved north when I was only 2 and ended up living in Frodsham where I spent most of my childhood . I didn’t really know much about football until the World Cup in 66 which I can still remember but my allegiance to Liverpool came a bit later . Most of my friends in Frodsham were Liverpool fans so it was only a matter of time before I started supporting them . So , no long family tradition of being a RED but once bitten it’s been a love affair and a way of life which has been with me all my life and will stay with me till I die.

I remember being devastated after we lost to Arsenal in the 71 Cup Final but my love for the club really blossomed when my Dad finally agreed to take me the 20 miles to my first match at Anfield the year after . I still remember it now , we beat Ipswich 2-0 (2 goals from Toshack) and the sense of joy and wonder at actually being in Anfield was completely overwhelming.  Every other week I used to pluck up the courage to ask Dad to take me to the match – usually he had ‘more important’ things to do like bleed the brakes on the bloody car! but I did manage to get to half a dozen or so games a season . Each time I entered Anfield it was like being amongst family even though I could usually see f**k all from the Paddock where we used to go. Eventually myself and a few of my mates some of  whom were Scousers but lived in Runcorn having been shipped out to the ‘New Town’ started going by ourselves and by the mid 70’s we were regulars on the KOP and even managed a few away games.

 I’ll never forget the 76/77 season  – we got to almost every home game and quite a few aways .Great memories –  The fantastic night against St.Etienne , my first trip to Wembley for the Cup Final ( despite the result) and the glorious win in Rome which to this day is the one thing ( just like Evo) I still regret not going to . It was bang in the middle of my A levels and while I could afford the 60 quid train fare , 3 days there and 3 days back would have meant failing them all ! Thankfully I managed to pass them and got into Medical School at Leeds which was ironic seeing as I hated Leeds United more than any other team at the time.

My student rail card meant I could still get over to Anfield regularly – £1.88 day return  from Leeds to Liverpool – cheaper than the £2 it cost to get to Elland Rd on the bus from where we lived!

There weren’t many Asian or black fans on the terraces in those days and of course racism was much more upfront then than it is now . There were monkey noises and throwing of bananas as well as the chorus from the KOP of “hello der man’’ at every black player who played at Anfield. I remember being stood on the Clock end at Highbury when half the REDS around me were singing “ we all agree Phil Neal is better than niggers’’ referring to the fact that Viv Anderson the first black player to play for England had replaced Phil Neal in the England team a few days before. I happen to agree that Phil Neal was better than Anderson but would perhaps have expressed it slightly differently  ;)

I didn’t get involved in too much of the violence prevalent at the time , just the odd skirmish in the rabbit warrens around Maine Road and a bit of a hairy time at the European Cup game at Forest but I was often the butt of racist abuse , sometimes even from our own fans . This didn’t deter me though as my growing affinity to Liverpool both the football club and the people gave my an increasing sense of identity and belonging and in my own mind I almost felt like a real Scouser . – I know many true Scousers may take exception to me saying that and I can understand why but I can only express how I felt and in fact still feel.

I know I have waffled on about my own past but I really just wanted to give a bit of background as to why the events at Hillsborough also meant so much to me even though I’m not a Scouser and didn’t suffer any personal loss.

Many of us not directly connected with those who died have their own individual  feelings over what went on there. Jo’s feelings of guilt caused by the lies of Mackenzie are a case in point . I also had feelings of guilt for many years about what I experienced that day but for different reasons .

By 1989 I was working as a doctor mainly doing GP locums around the North West . I was able to afford a season ticket and so got to most Liverpool games home and away . I went to Hillsborough on my own , I can’t remember why the lads I usually went with didn’t go but the fact that they didn’t may have saved my life.

I arrived there fairly early , before 2 o’clock and although there were a lot of people outside the Leppings Lane end the crush wasn’t too bad and I got in fairly easily thinking I’d try to get a decent spec. I went straight down the tunnel into the middle pen but already it was pretty packed . If my usual mates had been there we would have stayed there as they liked to stand right behind the goal – me being a relative ‘shortarse’ would usually make my way down to the front so I could see a bit better although the view was always crap through the railings . This time though as I was alone I looked around for somewhere better so I could see. The pen to the left was half empty and I moved into there first . After a while I saw the middle pen getting chokka and remembered the year before when they blocked off the tunnel and diverted everyone into the side pens. Thinking that my pen would get full I decided to move to the upper pen in the corner which still looked like it had plenty of space. From there I had a great view of the pitch .

I could see how full it was down below but once the match kicked off didn’t think anything of it , I’d been in the Kop plenty of times when it was packed like sardines.

 I had no inkling as to what was happening in there , I saw people spilling onto the pitch , the game was stopped and the  players went off , there were tannoy announcements telling the fans to get off the pitch . Myself and those around me had no idea of the carnage going on just yards away from us . At first it looked like a pitch invasion and I was thinking I wish everyone would just get off the pitch and let the game get started again – I still feel so ashamed of  having those thoughts even now .

Time went on and more and more people were spilling onto the pitch , it was obvious this wasn’t a pitch invasion and I began to see that some people were hurt but I still had no idea of the seriousness and magnitude of what was unfolding before my eyes. I assumed that there were enough first aiders and St.Johns Ambulance  people around to deal with the situation. Then the realisation of what was happening began to sink in   – I saw lads carrying injured on advertising hoardings , an ambulance came onto the pitch , people were obviously badly hurt . It was only when some of the crowd cleared and I saw a man lying on the ground with his jumper pulled over his head that it fully hit me – he was dead .  By this time it must have been about 3.15 – I ran to a steward and told him I was a doctor and needed to get down to the pitch to help – he sent me to a policeman who got on his radio and then took me up to the other end of the ground where they were taking the casualties . On the way he said there were about 20 dead .

This news almost floored me – there I was standing not 25yards away form where people were dying and not been able to see what was happening – how could I have not realised? 

When I got to where the casualties were I couldn’t believe what was in front of me . There’s no point going into details but suffice to say I’ve never felt so helpless in my life .No equipment available and very little organisation for what was a major disaster.  For most of those there it was too late and it was basically a question of doing the best for those who could be saved – deciding who went off in an ambulance and who didn’t . We did our best but by that time it was too late to make much of a difference .
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The official time of death of everyone was later deemed to be 3.15 . I know that can’t be true as there were people who I and others tried to resuscitate who must have died later than that .  I later wrote to the inquiry saying this but nothing further came of it in the whitewash/cover up that followed.

When all the injured had been taken away to hospital I walked back down the side of the pitch towards the Leppings Lane end . There was an eerie quiet and it was almost empty apart from a few isolated people in obvious shock and grief . I looked again at where I had been standing and saw how close I had been to where all those people had died. 

I had an overwhelming feeling of guilt – why hadn’t I got down to the pitch at the start?  how could I have not realised what was happening so close to where I was standing? . I had worked in casualty and had some experience of dealing with trauma injuries .  Maybe if I had acted quicker some people may have been saved –  I don’t know if I would have made any difference at all but at least I could have tried and maybe helped those who had no medical experience to do the best for the injured.
In my working life I feel I can honestly say I’ve always done my best for my patients but to this day I still  feel that I failed my fellow Reds , my ‘family’ on that day and that sense of guilt will probably stay with me forever .

Over the following days as the details of the gross mismanagement of the situation by those in charge came to light, a rising feeling of anger built up in me .  A friend of mine , also a doctor had been sitting in the stand with his dad . When it became clear the match was abandoned they left the ground and were driving away when they heard an appeal on the radio for any medical people to  go to the ground . They tried to turn round but couldn’t go anywhere because of the traffic . He got out and headed back on foot but again was much too late to do anything. He like me described a similar feeling of guilt at not realising what was going on when he was in the ground.

All it would have taken was an appeal over the tannoy for medical help , instead they were too busy telling fans to get off the pitch and putting out appeals over the local radio! . In an average population of 45,000 there would have been about 20 or so doctors , 200 nurses and dozens of trained first aiders  , but of course we were all worthless football fans , scum of the earth , drunken yobs who pissed on an robbed the dead , not decent normal people like everyone else who just might have been able to make a difference had it even occurred to them to ask.

This attitude towards football fans and particularly people from Liverpool was reinforced by the subsequent stories (lies) in the scum newspapers over the next few days . I couldn’t believe the  absolute contempt they showed for the feelings of the bereaved and those involved on that day – they treated fellow human beings in their most desperate hours like total shite – that’s a crime a thousand times worse than what they were accusing us of .

The influence of that early inaccurate and malicious reporting despite the subsequent apologies moulded and fixed many people’s view of what happened that day and even now when I mention Hillsborough to those who have no connection with football they perceive it as a football ‘hooligan’ incident rather than the tragedy it was caused by the very people who were supposed to be protecting us .  That is why I , like everyone else must continue to support the Justice campaign so that the real ‘TRUTH’ is once and for all made known and put on record .  It’s not about revenge or seeking blood ,  it’s about acknowledgement of responsibility and accountability . It’s about treating those so deeply affected with the dignity and respect they were so cruelly denied at the time .

Yes it was a long time ago and there are many  who say let sleeping dogs lie but to those affected the wounds can never heal –  it’s never too late though for those responsible to admit their mistakes and say sorry and to those involved that at least would be of some help in the years ahead.

For me I will always feel a sense of guilt , something common to many who survived that day however irrational that may be in reality . I’ve never really talked much about these feelings and maybe sharing my story with fellow Reds on this site will be of some personal benefit to me . Thanks to those of you who have taken the time to read this , I apologise if it’s a bit self indulgent ,

JFT96