A senior police officer in charge of overseeing Liverpool fans outside Hillsborough on the day of the disaster in 1989 said he regretted not asking for the kick-off to be delayed.
Former South Yorkshire Police superintendent Roger Marshall reportedly said somebody would ‘be killed if the gates weren’t opened’ after making several radio requests for three exit gates to be opened as congestion built up outside the Leppings Lane turnstiles.
He told the new inquests into the 96 deaths in Warrington that he ‘could have requested’ a delay to the 3pm kick-off if he had wanted.
Mr Marshall said: “I can tell you that it was one of the most profound regrets of my experience at Leppings Lane on April 15 that I did not do so.”
He said he was aware that the build-up of the crowd grew from 2.30pm.
He said: “I was very concerned because there were young people among this. Lots of decent people were there as well.
“It was becoming an extremely worrying situation. The situation was becoming unmanageable, if I’m honest.”
Mr Marshall said he did not accept he had mistaken his description of fans pushing and shoving for involuntary surges in the crowd, adding: “We just did not have the numbers of police officers. Neither did we have the co-operation of fans at that stage at all.”
He recalled a colleague outside the turnstiles urging him to open the exit gates but he was initially reluctant.
He said: “Here we have got a very, very substantial minority under the influence of drink, pushing and shoving without any sort of mutual respect for anybody else, without any self discipline and really determined to get into the stadium.
“I thought that well if we open the gates this substantial minority is going to end up inside the stadium...causing a public order issue.
“Some of them may not have had tickets, I don’t know. An indeterminate number would not have had tickets. Certainly a minority of them had far too much to drink.
“Close behind that was the absolute imperative of doing something about the situation outside because it was plain to me that unless I did something about it, people would be killed.”
Asked if he could have done more, he told the court: “I think you can always say you could do more. I was in an unprecedented situation there. I was doing my absolute best. I was not standing around with my hands in my pockets.
“Disasters don’t happen in my view because of one individual or a group of individuals who have not done their best. Disasters happen because lots and lots of different factors all come together just at their own time and this is what we got, sadly.”