In the Hillsborough Independent Panel’s report, it discusses the Harrington Report of 1968 into ‘hooliganism’:
1.40 Noting the tragedy at Burnden Park, the Report instructed ‘appropriate authorities’ to respond ‘before another disaster occurs’. John Harrington warned that perimeter fences ‘could be dangerous in the event of massive crowd disturbances as safety exits to the field would be blocked’. Gangways and tunnels servicing terraces created bottlenecks, rendering them ‘useless’ for evacuation in an emergency.
Ten years on from Harrington, Brighton faced Tottenham on 15th April 1978. As Tim Carder and Roger Harris’ history of the club ‘Seagulls!’ put it:
The all-ticket visit of Spurs was the most glamourous match of the season, but it brought the worst football-related violence the town had ever seen. Mobs from London invaded Brighton on the Friday night, and the ‘aggro’ continued at the Goldstone the following day with 51 arrests and 85 casualties, 20 ending up in hospital. Tottenham supporters, supposed to be confined to the East and North-East Terraces, infiltrated the North Stand in large numbers. The resultant fighting spilled onto the pitch and referee Alan Turvey was forced to take the teams off for fourteen minutes. There were five further minutes of interruption throughout the match…
Despite Harrington’s report, the Football Association ordered Brighton & Hove Albion to erect a perimeter fence around the Goldstone pitch the following season.
Although Albion supporters disliked being caged in, Littlehampton Welding were proud enough of the job they did to advertise themselves as the company behind it in the matchday programme during the 1979/80 season:
The death of Liverpool supporters in the FA Cup Semi-Final in 1989 led to the removal of the hated fencing at many clubs. However, as the Morning Star reported on 19th April 1989:
Before the Hillsborough disaster Brighton had taken down two thirds of their fences and they only remain in front of the North stand and part of the East Terrace where visit supporters are segregated.
Secretaty Steve Rooke said: “We are satisfied that in the event of a major incident supporters could escape in a matter of minutes through our large fences, which open both ways.”