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1985: 'A bad time to be English'
On 29 May 1985 fans gathered at Brussels' Heysel Stadium, to watch the Uefa cup final between two of Europe's greatest teams, Liverpool and Juventus.

But before the match had even begun, violence erupted on the terraces and a stadium wall collapsed, trapping hundreds of Italians fleeing a charge led by Liverpool hooligans.

Out of the 39 fans that were killed, 32 were Italian.

Your stories

I was living in Italy when that football match was played and I remember the shame of being British that day.

Our Italian friends were very nice but a lot found it hard to not say anything to us about the reputation of thuggery and drunkenness the British brought with them. The shame was enormous.
Louise Roche, UK

This was a black day that will always live in my memory. Before the game we were swapping scarves (I still have the one I swapped), jerseys and hats with the Juve fans and everything was good.

Everyone on our coaches was silent and shamed on the trip back home
Dave C, United States
Although we had official tickets, you could buy one at every bar in Brussels and hence the problem. We were not aware of any deaths, nothing was announced at the stadium and it was only after the "so called" game that we found out.

Everyone on our coaches was silent and shamed on the trip back home.

Now I live in Florida, USA. I watched the Liverpool v Juventus game this year on the telly. It was emotional to watch The Kop's and the city's support of the Juve fans and the remembrance of the dead from that fateful and shameful night in 1985.
Dave C, United States

We weren't as surprised as everyone else by Heysel. My father and older brother had been on The Kop for the Panthanaikos semi-final, and there was an atmosphere of hatred for the Greek team.

It surprised my dad in particular who had been on The Kop since the early 60s. It is a well-peddled fallacy that Heysel was a one-off : my father was a headteacher and saw the venom in young kids on The Kop that night.

They were the result of a vicious, helpless society that Thatcher's government was largely to blame for. There was a whole section of society who had no outlet or expression for their frustrations.

It does not lessen any of the blame or guilt - because of Liverpool fans, 39 people died in Brussels. It does go some way to explaining why football violence happened at the time.

Thatcher destroyed the fabric of our society, and the shameful scenes of 29th May 1985 were an expression of that.
Jim McDonald, England

I was a disabled fan on a school trip that day. I went with a pal because we were lucky enough to get tickets for such a big game. I couldn't get into the ground due to the crush.

We had Liverpool fans on the campsite with us.

I can still see there tear-stained faces to this day.

A bad night for football and a bad time to be English. Still ashamed.
Rob Parish, UK

I am the son of an Italian father and English mother.

I was born in England but grew up in Italy.

We really thought at that moment this was the end of football
Jonathan, UK
In 1985 I was living in Italy - I was 15 years old. I remember that day of the match, me and my parents were watching it on TV in the kitchen.

It was pure confusion. Then the Italian reporter said: "It has just been reported to me that there are 86 dead."

We were shocked! This was no normal case football violence, this was a real battlefield, and he added something I'll never forget: "This is the end of football!"

We really thought at that moment this was the end of football.

The next day when my dad when went to work and I was about to go to school, my mother opened the shutters.

A passing driver on the other side of the road looked, spat at my mother and looked at her with hate in his eyes.

My mother was terrified and started crying and phoned my father at work, he had to leave work and come back home to console her.

I learned that a schoolboy with an English mother was beaten up, I was lucky my classmates were more understanding even if they weren't happy.

And a coach full of English tourists was attacked.

These idiots (I'm referring to the Liverpool fans) not only put their country into shame but put the lives British residents in Italy in danger.
Jonathan Muscella, UK

My family was living in Brussels for the 1984-85 school year when I was 13.

My mother and I had gone to a seminar at my school. We came home and the first thing out of my father's mouth was, "There's been a riot at the European Cup".

We were both stunned, though my mother had run some errands in the Grand Place that day and saw some very drunk Brits at the bistros that were around the plaza.

Needless to say, she was repulsed.

So we watched the carnage of the riot on the TV while listening to the account on BBC radio.

I will never forget the images I saw as well as the description I heard. I couldn't believe that this was happening in the city we lived in.
Jane Hopke, USA

I had been living in Brussels for six months at the time, working for a Belgian bank.

I didn't even know it had happened until the morning after when I arrived at work.

I was happy I didn't know or I'd never have had the guts to show my face.

Surprisingly, my Belgian colleagues were most sympathetic, insisting that the Belgian state and police shared the blame.
Tony Maye, Belgium

I was nine when I watched the horror that took place in the Heysel stadium on TV.

It was supposed to be a nice family gathering watching European football. But the stadium's bad health and the British hooligans decided differently.

I will never watch a football match in a UK stadium because of memories of that night's event.
Zeshan, Belgium
My parents sent me to bed when the first deaths were announced by the Belgian commentator.

I didn't sleep that night and will never forget that night of horror.

I now live and work in the UK. I know that despite living in England, where football is culturally important, I will never watch a football match in a UK stadium because of memories of that night's event.
Zeshan, Belgium

A Belgian friend of mine was in the stadium that evening and he has told me of some crucial events that are omitted from the "official" history of what happened.

It is no secret that this was to be the last match played at the stadium before it was decommissioned.

According to my friend, it was falling apart. The Italian fans had been picking up pieces of concrete and throwing them over the police line at rival fans.

The Liverpool fans did not like this kind of violent cowardice so charged the line and started a pitched battle on the stands and the pitch.
Paddy, UK

The European Cup Final should never have been given to such a shambolic stadium.

It was a nightmare trying to get into Heysel. The police weren't interested in stopping those without tickets, just with confiscating banners and klaxons.

So the gates, which were totally inadequate and each one manned by a sole little old man (or so it seemed to me) were totally overcrowded.

Every few minutes those without tickets tried to storm the gates and the police did nothing.

Consequently, I entered the stadium during one of these crushes without even showing my ticket, never mind handing it over.

Once inside, the atmosphere where we stood was quite jovial.

A few flares went off but not much to predict what was about to happen.

We saw the first few "fans" break through the chicken wire fence segregating the Liverpool fans from the, supposedly, neutral fans and a few skirmishes took place.

At this point, the police intervened and the fans withdrew - and so did the police. If they had kept up a presence between the two sets of fans I'm sure the trouble would not have escalated.

But they seemed clueless in how to deal with the initial trouble, and the more the fans from the Liverpool section saw that the police were panicking, the more they got confident and stepped up the charges towards the opposing fans.

We all know what happened next.

A frightening and horrific experience.
Alistair, UK
My friend and I left the stadium before the match began because we didn't think it should have gone ahead, and because we were being bombarded with bottles and concrete thrown by angry Juventus fans who broke down the fence at the other end of the ground and stood, 1000+, in front of our section unchallenged by the police raining down missiles.

A small price, I guess compared to what the Italians who died suffered.

In the end, there aren't many people associated with that evening, UEFA, Belgian authorities, local police, those who drunkenly started the trouble, and those who carried it on, who can avoid the blame for what was a frightening and horrific experience.
Alistair Cook, UK

I was at the back of the block in the stadium where the neutrals were killed.

The problem stemmed from there being too many Liverpool fans crammed in two-thirds of one end, while all the Juve fans had one entire end to themselves.

Some Liverpool fans also gained entry without tickets - there were holes evident in the breezeblock stadium walls.

There was a lot of room in the zone reserved for neutrals, many of whom were Italian.

There was no provocation from those Italians, while I clearly saw Liverpool fans throw lumps of the crumbling terraces over the dividing fence.

As the missiles rained down, so the crush towards the furthest corner grew and it was soon evident people were dying.

What was also very clear to me in touring the city is that it was only the Liverpool fans who were drinking too much.

I later met some of the families of the dead. I felt ashamed to be English.
Paul, UK
I saw some with supermarket trolleys laden with beer in Brussels' Grand Place square. And from 10am, the behaviour of Liverpool's fans deteriorated as more cheap drink was consumed.

I'm not a Liverpool fan. I went for a big football occasion in a city where I had a girlfriend. Thankfully she was not at the match.

I can still picture the sight that greeted me outside the stadium before kick-off.

I left the ground to find safety. I saw rows of bodies, barely covered by tarpaulin of the flags they had carried, and which blew about as police helicopters landed nearby.

I later met some of the families of the dead.

I felt ashamed to be English.
Paul Fry, UK

"Ashamed to be English"...

We didn't feel English we felt Scouse and singled out by the English regime.

There was loads of trouble prematch with several knifings, the atmosphere had been charged from the off.

I remember the stoning and chants from the Juve, but as ever Liverpool replied in kind.

Heysel was a tragedy waiting to happen, and it's a shame it was a European cup final that provided the stage.

Juventus supporters were as much to blame for Heysel as any 'Pool' fan, in fact remember the young Italian firing a 'pistol' at Liverpool supporters, how the hell did he get that in the ground?

Heysel, a tragedy, but a lesson learned hey?
Big Tom, Liverpool

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A weeping football fan walks away from the crowds - Photo: Dominique Faget/AFP/Getty Images
Those who were there will never forget the horrific scenes they witnessed


Liverpool fans hold banner in Italian reading
Twenty years on the two sides met once more at the European Champions League quarter final

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