As I start to write this, it is almost 13 years to the minute that the Hillsborough disaster "officially" happened in England.
Hillsborough is the home of Sheffield Wednesday Football Club and on the 15th April 1989 was host to the FA Cup semi-final between Liverpool and Nottingham Forest. Liverpool fans had been delayed by a combination of roadworks and police "stop-searches" and as kick-off approached, a huge crowd swelled outside the Leppings Lane end of the ground. Fearful that people might be injured, the police officer in charge ordered an exit gate to be opened to allow fans into the ground. He did not, however, order any attempt to control the crowd as it entered the stadium.
The Leppings Lane terrace itself was old and crumbling. Thanks to the legacy of crowd trouble in the late seventies/early eighties, the terrace had seven foot metal fencing running across the front, plus it was divided laterally into "pens." When the exit gate was opened, the fans surging into the ground went straight ahead, down a tunnel and into the centre pens, already crowded as would be expected of the area directly behind the goal. The crush was horrendous. Somewhen, shortly after the match kicked off at 3pm, one of the crush barriers failed. People at the front of the terrace were pressed against the fencing, their faces turning blue, many starting to pass out.
Some people escaped over the fences, but initially the police tried to throw them back into the crowd. Even when the game was abandoned at 3:06pm, police officers stood round and offered no help.
95 people died on that day, another four hundred injured. Some years later, a fan in a coma had his life support switched off taking the death toll to 96. Many survivors suffered mentally after the disaster and several suicides in Liverpool were linked to that day.
The biggest disgrace has to be the behaviour of the police. Many refused to help, others told tales of drunken fans. A catalogue of lies that were proven as such by CCTV and photos were taken as gospel. Those few who tried telling the truth had their stories quietly brushed under the carpet. Worse was to come with compensation. Survivors and bereaved were awarded little more than £3,000 if anything. Police officers suffering "late-onset post traumatic stress disorder" (more like "need a bit of cash disorder") received up to 100 times MORE than the survivors.
Without question, Hillsborough was not only a dreadful disaster, but it is one of the biggest miscarriges of British Justice, proving that in this country what the police says counts.
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P.S. I am not a Liverpool fan, nor do I live there. I'm just outraged that this ever happened.