Sunday, 16 September 2012

3.06pm

I sat on a bus on Tuesday of last week, at just after 5pm, reading the BBC News website's report on the findings of the panel investigating the Hillsborough stadium disaster.  Tears stung my eyes as I took in the magnitude of the deception.  96 people had died at a football match and ever since many have believed they were either culpable in their own deaths or the victims of a drunken mob pushing their way into the stadium.  Anyone who had looked at the facts of the day knew that wasn't true, but the stench of those lies had been hard to shake.

It was easier in 1989 to cover things up and blame supporters already labeled as thugs after years of hooliganism had blighted the game.  It must be hard for anyone younger than 30 watching the game now to fully appreciate how different it was then.  The fear factor of going to a game, even a year after Hillsborough, was huge.  Fans were in steel cages and the police treated everyone as a potential threat.  It was a horrible time for the game in so many ways.  The horror of Hysel had changed little,  Bradford hadn't lead to investment in stadia and the game headed, with a grim inevitability, to Hillsborough.

The errors made that day by the police have finally been brought into sharp focus and we can only hope those responsible on the day and those who played their part in the cover up and lies, are brought to some sort of justice.  How that will work remains to be seen, but the dignity and determination of the families who have fought for so long for the truth must surely now be rewarded with some justice.

The game changed culturally after Hillsborough, in many ways for the better and for a long time that was the legacy of the 96 victims.  Now, finally the truth is out.  Innocent victims on a day when a broken, self serving society let them down.  The police, the press, the governments who sat on the truth for 23 years, now have an opportunity to further that legacy.

At 3.06pm on 15th April 1989 a young lad sat in his bedroom listening to BBC radio as they switched to Hillsborough reporting a 'major event'.  He hoped for a Liverpool penalty.  The horror he got instead has never left him and never will.

Never forget.  JFT96.