EighteenAndFive

In-depth and Intelligent Views on Liverpool FC & Football in General

Liverpool Honour 22nd Anniversary of Hillsborough and the 96 Who Never Came Home

Today, the 15th April 2011, marks the twenty-second anniversary of the Hillsborough disaster, Britain’s worst sporting disaster which claimed the lives of ninety-six Liverpool supporters.

On this day in 1989 Liverpool FC’s first team and 20,000 fans travelled to Sheffield Wednesday’s home ground to take on Nottingham Forest in an F.A. Cup semi-final.

With a place in the final at stake and on such a beautiful day, both sets of supporters would have been full of optimism and hope, convinced in their team’s ability to win through to the biggest stage of all, the Wembley final.

96 supporters never came home.

The Liverpool fans were allocated the smaller end of the stadium, the Leppings Lane end. It was tightly packed and cramped at the best of times, but a series of terrible decisions by those in charge of crowd control, namely the police, turned what should have been a day to savour into one impossible to erase from memory, for all the wrong reasons.

Even as kick-off approached, Liverpool supporters were still making their way into the ground; poor crowd control outside the ground meant fans were ushered in through un-manned barriers and turnstiles into the narrow entrances onto the terrace within.

As more fans awaited entry, the police – or more specifically, David Duckenfield, who gave the order – decided to open up an exit gate to allow them in more quickly. Later on, in official testimony, he would lie about this to try and begin to cover it up.

With fans now streaming into the stadium from both sides – match-goers confirming that police, nor anyone else, was by now checking for tickets for entry – those already in the middle had nowhere to go.

Shortly after kick-off, with far too many supporters now jammed in the Leppings Lane end of the stadium, Liverpool hit the bar with a shot. The usual forward motion of the supporters when a chance occurs, combined with the fact that the crowd was too tightly pushed together, wreaked havoc.

Fans were pressed up against the metal fences in front, fans were pushed too far forwards to get back to an upright position, and fans were crushed from behind by the sheer weight of their numbers.

In moments, tragedy had struck.

People were torn from their loved ones, were separated from each other and had no power to do anything but try to survive the ensuing madness.

Fans who were forced to the ground had no chance of getting back up; those taking their place just above them soon suffered a similar fate.

Supporters who were in the stand above tried desperately to help those below by lifting them up out of the crush.

Others in other areas of the stadium could see what was happening and implored the police to do something, anything to help.

But they did nothing.

Eventually, some fans made it over the railings and onto the pitch.

Finally the police responded – they formed a barricade on the pitch to prevent Forest and Reds fans from coming together. Great help. They even battered the supporters down who were trying to climb over the fence, away from the suffocation, and set dogs onto those who made it passed a crushed and twisted gate.

People were being brought out on advertising boards; makeshift stretchers. Dead people. Their faces covered with their own coats.

They were watching a football match, and they died.

Fans gave others mouth-to-mouth in a bid to save who they could, but 95 people still died, and later one who had never recovered from being in a coma also passed away.

96 supporters never came home.

English newspaper ‘The Sun’ ran a story entitled “The Truth” – claiming that Liverpool fans robbed the dead, urinated on their bodies and the police, and stopped the police from giving them life-saving treatment.

Nothing could be further from the truth than this despicable and lie-filled bile. That is why to this day, Liverpool FC supporters – and indeed the vast majority of the population of the city of Liverpool, Everton fans included – do not buy The Sun newspaper. Never have they printed an apology, never have they admitted they lied.

Kelvin McKenzie, then editor of the paper, asked the then-(and now) Reds manager Kenny Dalglish what he could do to make it better.

“Print another edition. Same size font. Title, “We Lied”.” replied Dalglish. But McKenzie wouldn’t, and never has.

“I was not sorry then, and I’m not sorry now”. That is what McKenzie has to say on the matter.

Lord Justice Taylor, after a long and bitter legal proceeding eventually ruled that the police department was entirely to blame for the deaths of these supporters and the problems which arose from Duckenfield’s incompetence.

His punishment? Early retirement on an enhanced pension. Another police officer, nine years later, was adjudged to have “traumatic stress” from the experience and was awarded £330,000 compensation (around $ 540,000). One of the parents who lost a son in the tragedy was paid the sum of £3,500 compensation.

Not one person has ever been charged or prosecuted because of Hillsborough, and not one policeman even lost their job because of it.

Despite the fact they watched events unfold from the safety of the CCTV room. Despite the fact they lied, and said the CCTV was out of order. Despite the fact that a Sheffield Wednesday stadium employee swore an affidavit that they were lying about it. Despite the fact that the police then claimed the CCTV tapes from that day were somehow ‘stolen’… from a locked and alarmed control room.

In a final twisted decision, the South Yorkshire police even prevented ambulance crews from entering the pitch to help out the dead and the dying.

Twenty-two years on, and Liverpool supporters, families of those who died at Hillsborough, are still waiting. Still waiting for justice, and still waiting for answers. Over 700 people were injured in the tragedy. The youngest of those who died was just 10 years old.

96 supporters never came home.

Never forgive. Never forget.

You’ll Never Walk Alone.

Read more about Hillsborough here.

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2 responses to “Liverpool Honour 22nd Anniversary of Hillsborough and the 96 Who Never Came Home

  1. Pingback: Hillsborough | Video, Torrent, Downloads | Poodlesnatcher

  2. Pingback: Weekly #LFCBlog Review 15/04/2010 | The LFC Zone -

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