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Soccer-crazy fans storm station

Barriers and Railmen are swept aside

Huge following for Liverpool’s first game

Railway police, reinforced by Liverpool officers, were rushed to Exchange Station this afternoon after thousands of Liverpool supporters, including many without tickets, stormed the barriers to the platforms at which football excursion trains were waiting to take them to Blackburn.

Railway police rushed to Exchange Station this afternoon after 1000’s of Liverpool supporters stormed the barriers to the platforms at which football excursion trains were waiting to take them to Blackburn.

The chaos followed an announcement made over the station’s loudspeaker system at 12.15pm that no more tickets were available for the two remaining excursion trains. Queues, which had before then been comparitively orderly, surged forward, and the wooden barrier on platform 5 was torn off its hinges.

Queues had begun to form at the station at about 11.30am for the three excursions trains, the 12.12, 12.35 and the reserve 12.50. About 800 people boarded the 12.12 and shortly after it left the station the no tickets announcement was made.

GATE TORN OFF

A porter said: “People without tickets made a dash for the platform where the 12.35 was waiting. The wooden gate was torn off its hinges and we were brushed aside as the fans stormed through and packed into the train. Then they had a go at the 12.50 which was waiting on the other side of the platform and packed that too. It was just chaos – there was nothing we could do about it.”

Station officials made the announcement that extra police were being drafted in and warned supporters without tickets that they wold be cleared off the trains. But the railway police appeared to be helpless, because both trains were jammed to the doors and it was an impossible job to circulate through them, checking tickets.

A Liverpool City Police squad car then arrived, and its crew gave what assistance they could to their railway colleagues.

With both excursions packed, supporters who had brought their tickets last night or early this morning were arriving at the staion to find there were no seats for them.

Some were directed to the 12.27 stopping train to Preston and allowed on with their excursion tickets, but this train – a small one of three coaches – was quickly filled with supporters and normal travellers and station officials had to stop more supporters boarding.

THROUGH WINDOWS

At 12.30 pm came the announcement, “There are no more trains to Blackburn. We regret we have neither the stock nor crews to operate any more trains to Blackburn. There is no use waiting or hoping. You are advised to disperse.”

But the hundreds of supporters thronging the station’s concourse did not take the advice very kindly. There were angry protests to porters and ticket collectors, and when a gate was left unguarded for a matter of just over a minute about 50 supporters sneaked through and jammed themselves into the 12.50 excursion, which was still awaiting the signal to leave. Some of them got in by climbing through windows.

Mr. Thomas Richards of Northwood Road, Huyton, had bought his ticket in advance and arrived at 12.30 pm – 20 minutes before the last excursion left – to find no room available, said “This is a complete and utter farce. The railway must have known there would be latecomers. They must have known that Liverpool has a big following and that thousands would travel for the first away game of the season, especially when we have a new star signing, Peter Thompson, on display.

FRUSTRATING

“It’s a very poor effort and I’m going to make a strong complaint.”

Mr John Rickerts, of 47 Denver Road, Kirkby, bought three 6s 6d tickets for the excursion earlier this morning and arrived at 12.30 to find them useless. “I’ve never experienced anything like this in my life. After a frustrating experience like this, how do British Railways expect anyone to place any reliance on them in future?” he asked.

At 12.50 when the last excursion train had left and announcements were still being made that there were no more trains to Blackburn, there were still queues of supporters buying tickets for the 1.10 pm train to Preston from which they hoped to connect with a Blackburn train.

Others left the station in an attempt to find seats on the coaches which were scheduled to leave the city centre to get to Blackburn by road.

Others gave up the attempt. Many said that their opening game of the season would be, of all places, at Goodison Park.

Copyright - Liverpool Echo - Transcribed by the makers of the "Walk On" film.


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