Stevie Dooling

Stevie Dooling passed out in the crush at the Leppings Lane end and was stretched across the pitch. Taken to hospital, Stevie left early to escape the indignity of a visit by Thatcher. He talks here on how Hillsborough has affected his life since, post traumatic stress disorder and the foundation of the HJC.

What hospital were you in?

"Royal Hallamshire. I was in until Sunday. We got sent home before Maggie Thatcher came. 3 out of 4 of us refused to see her so I was home by Sunday night."

How did you get home?

"My brother found out at 9.30 p.m. I was still alive so they came up and stayed the night."

After you got home how did you feel?

"Drained. Even in hospital, I'd been unconscious. You kept going off then you'd wake up and forget about it. Then you'd think about it again. It was the same when I got home. When I got home next door said 'come and see you on the tele,' but I didn't want to do it. They took me out that night but I didn't want to go out."

How did it affect you after that, when did you realise the impact it had on you?

"The day, weeks after it, every radio interview, every TV programme, every paper you picked up, it was Hillsborough, Hillsborough, Hillsborough. Could you watch these things? It was a blur. I remember AC Milan, they sang You'll Never Walk Alone. That's a blur but I remember it going on."

When was it when you came to a realisation that it had affected you? Did you not think it had or did you just try to carry on with your life?

"I got a job. The words out of me were 'everything's beautiful.' It wasn't me. I hit the ale, I wouldn't take any tablets. My wife didn't help but that's not her fault, she thought I'd died that night. It affected her very badly. I couldn't talk to her about it. I got a letter saying I had to go for an operation because of Hillsborough. It was the crushing. I went for the operation. I blanked Hillsborough out. When I came out it all came back to me. My wife took me to the Hillsborough Centre, which was very hard. It was fantastic, there were dockers, bouncers from clubs, I thought it's not just me, there are hundreds like me. It was a great help. I had a one-to-one counsellor, she was brilliant."

"I still don't know how I got onto the pitch - it was my stumbling block with the Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. After the first anniversary, I stopped going to the Centre, I was doing OK."


Why did you stop going?

"I thought I was going too much and I was too dependant on it. You have to try and get our own life so I tried to stop going. After you stopped going to the centre, did you get help anywhere else or were you going to your doctor? I was going to the doctor but it was useless. I was still having to go to the Centre every now and then. I just tried to get on with life, the families group wouldn't let us get involved so there was nothing I could really do. I kept in touch with survivors who were going the match. It got really heavy for me going the match. People all over the country were coming up and talking to me and it got really heavy doing that. It was every single match 'go and see him, he'll counsel you.'"

Did you find after the disaster you are more comfortable with people where were there rather than people who weren't there?

"100%. Unless you were there you can't talk to them. What went through your head, the don't believe you if they weren't there. Were you on any medication? I couldn't take anything so I would have a few drinks to get me to sleep."


After the Scrutiny, with the forming of the campaign, what's your involvement in that?

"I couldn't believe the comments by Justice Smith. I told Trevor Hicks that. Next thing I saw an advert in the paper for this group, so I joined and that was it. I'd known John Glover and I just had to carry on the fight even though it wrecked my head again."

Do you think having a focal point like the shop has helped?

"The shop has been a tremendous help. I said I'd never go back to Sheffield, but I went before the boycott. On the day of the concert, the transport police came over and said not 1 person's gone from Liverpool. Everybody backed us. The lads wanted to go to the match but they backed us, it was fantastic. We never got praised, just like we didn't get praised for the minutes silence, but it doesn't matter. It showed the power of what people can do."

11 years and still actively involved - why?

"It's easy. They said they'd give us this and that, inquiries etc. but it was a cover up. They give us nothing. Nothing's changed about Hillsborough, it's still the biggest whitewash this country's seen. Until we an get somewhere, I'll keep on fighting. I've got to for the likes of Joe Glover, Maureen Church. Let's hope we get there."


How has Hillsborough affected Stevie Dooling?

"I'm a lot weaker now. I've been affected but I've always been a fighter but it's made me a lot quieter. I've been scarred for life. I survived to fight for others. You dedicate your life to Hillsborough. You're signed up until we get something out of it."