Wednesday, 15 April 2009

When you walk through the storm.

Twenty years ago today, 96 people lost their lives at a football match at the Hillsborough stadium in Sheffield England.  Needlessly.

The stadium was hosting an FA Cup Semi Final between Liverpool and Nottingham Forest.  At 3.06pm 6 minutes into the game, the match was stopped as people started to spill onto the pitch.  By the early evening the awfulness of what had happened became clear.  Liverpool fans had been crushed after a gate was opened to allow more fans into the ground.  The Police made horrible errors that day and have never apologised for the events that took place as a result.

I never buy the Sun because of their coverage the following week, and never will.

The things that stick in my mind about Hillsborough are the things that helped me, at 16, to appreciate the enormity of it.

I can remember taking my friend John back home with my Mum.  He'd been to mine for the day to listen to the match on the radio.  On the way we had, what is now, Radio 5 on and listened to Peter Jones, as he sat in the press box looking at the Lepping Lane End of the ground.  He described, in his eloquent way, the scarfs and rosettes of the Liverpool fans that had been abandoned on the terraces as they tried to escape.

The next day I must have listened to every news report as the toll slowly grew into the eighties.  That evening a service was held at Liverpool's Catholic Cathedral as a city started to mourn.  We watched it on the news that night as we had our tea.  I can  vividly remember Bruce Grobbelaar speaking and looking and sounding completely bereft.  I think that was the moment when the enormity of what had happened hit me.  Like a brick.

I remember the game at the San Siro, that week after Hillsborough, that the Italian ref stopped after 6 minutes, and the minutes silence that followed with the players standing on the pitch where they stood.  And I remember the voices of the Italian fans singing, in broken English, You'll Never Walk Alone once that minutes silence was over.

Hillsborough left it's mark on me from a distance.  I can only imagine how awful the memories are for those people that were there.  Watching friends and loved ones having the life crushed out of them is almost too unbearable to think about, but some people live with those memories every day.

96 Liverpool fans lost their lives twenty years ago today.  This, my 96th post, is dedicated to their memory and to the families who are still fighting for justice.