Wednesday, April 15, 2009

96 Reds - Hillsborough Remembered

"Some people believe football is a matter of life and death, I am very disappointed with that attitude. I can assure you it is much, much more important than that." Bill Shankly

Twenty years ago, on April 15th 1989, over 25,000 Liverpool supporters travelled to Hillsborough, Sheffield to watch the FA Cup semi-final match against Nottingham Forest. 96 of them never returned!

What should have been a fantastic day for the club and the fans turned into the scene of the most horrific football disaster the game has ever seen.

96 Liverpool supporters were crushed to death. Half of them were 21 or younger (youngest was 10 years old, cousin of present club captain). To the families and friends they left behind, they were simply a dad, a son, a brother, a sister, a cousin, an auntie, an uncle, a granddad, a boyfriend, a husband, a soul mate and a best friend.

If you are not a football fan, imagine you and your mates were looking forward for a great evening watching your favourite artiste performing in a concert hall. Something bad happened and you lost your mates, forever!

Initial details were sketchy in those days without mobile phone and Internet. Three days later, on Tuesday, Liverpool awoke to a sickening headline. The Sun’s infamous “The Truth”, reported that “some fans picked pockets of victims; urinated on the cops and beat up PC giving kiss of life.” It was soon established as lies and cover up! The police had tried in vain to cover their tracks, first lying that Gate C had been forced open and then blaming drunken fans for the chaos that they failed to control.

(Perhaps our mata-mata are taking a cue from their colonial bobbies!)

Four months later, Lord Justice Taylor published his findings into the disaster, after he was commissioned to investigate the causes behind the tragedy. (Correct, correct, correct - we have similar Royal Commission over here too). The inquiry named the cause as failure of police control “a blunder of the first magnitude.”

Police froze and failed to control the huge crowd lining up at the limited turnstiles. Fifteen minutes before 3pm kick-off, they decided to open exit gate. The fans flooded on to the already overcrowded standing terraces of Leppings Lane. The police failed to divert them to other less crowded areas. Hundreds were crushed against perimeter fence.

Lives were never the same again for many survivors. There was a sense of guilt among those who had gone home alive that day! Many suffered from post traumatic stress disorder. There were documented cases of mental breakdown, marital woes and suicide!
There are many moving articles and tributes that can be found on the Internet. Check out

1) After the tragedy, generally all football stadiums had been converted to all-seater and the removal of barriers at the front of stands.

2) The city boycotted the paper and till today it did not recover its loss of 200,000 circulation in Merseyside!

96 Reds live on in our memories. RIP.
May all be well & happy, be free from mental and physical suffering!

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