Hillsborough, the torment of injustice

The Annual service of remembrance brings the families and friends of the 96 men, women and children who were killed at Hillsborough to Anfield each year. (95 died on that day and one later).

The thousands, who attend the service, fall silent at 3.06 on the 15th April. It was the exact time that the referee at the FA Cup semi final stopped the match between Liverpool and Nottingham Forest on that faithful afternoon in 1989. It is a symbolic, moving and painful moment.

96 Banner

Justice for the 96 Banner at a Liverpool match (photo Manchester Wired)

Back in 1989, it was Everton V Norwich at Birmingham and Liverpool V Nottingham Forest so a possible Merseyside Cup Final was a prospect. The stand at the rear of Leppings Lane end held 4500, while the terraces could hold 10,100. The disaster unfolded at this terrace when fans, who were given no direction by police, made their way down the tunnel into already overcrowded pens on the already packed terrace

For those on the Leppings Lane terrace it was a matter of life and death and for those family and friends, many watching the game, it was the beginning of a long nightmare.

Phil Scraton in his excellent book…….. “Hillsborough……. the truth” has identified why this disaster was different from many others….

“Hillsborough however remains unique in that the victims, their families and the survivors were subjected to a concerted attack on their reputations which added to the denial of their rights”

This compounded the tragedy for the families and friends and for the people of Liverpool, the fabrication of the truth in the infamous Sun newspaper on 19th April, the terrible insensitivity of the authorities, the taking of blood alcohol levels of the dead, even of the children, the pursuit of “enemy within” by British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, the failure of the legal and administrative processes and most of all the cover up by many officials who walked away from their responsibility.

Football hooliganism was to Thatcher part of the enemy within and some of the police operated a policy of force and coercion when it came to football fans. But it did not stop there…….basically the figure of blame was placed on the supporters and the people who died. A miscarriage of justice does not even begin to describe what took place.

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