Yes, I know, I’m not a football fan, but its hard to overlook this awful landmark, all the same. Besides which, despite some comments here, its less controversial than the other thing I considered posting, so… Make the most of it, no idea when the next football related posting will be!
On April 15th 1989, Liverpool were playing Nottingham Forest in an FA Cup Semi Final, at Hillsborough, a football ground in Sheffield, for any readers from outside the UK. Just one thing, back in those days, stadiums were not all seater places, as they are today, back then, most people stood on what they call the terraces (I believe?). Unfortunately back then, alcoholic drinking before matches was heavier than it is today. I’m not saying the fans are sober now, but generally, if you’re too drunk now, you dont get in!
To be honest, details of exactly what happened are vague, partly because of the nature of things, partly because the South Yorkshire police forces would probably prefer not all the details to come out, as most versions of it, put them to some degree of fault as to what happened next.
Just before kick off time, the crowds rushed out of the pubs, and headed for the ground, all trying to get in before kick off. Seemingly the turnstiles couldnt cope, and the police gave instructions for the gates to be opened, and thousands flooded in. Which might have been fine, but momentum carried them into the people already standing there, and people got crushed. After 6 minutes, the game was stopped, when there were clear signs of problems, but sadly, 96 people died in the chaos that ensued. There has been previous enquiries, another is indeed going on now, but the police have always been slightly vague as to what exactly happened that day. Will we ever know the full story, somehow I doubt it, but lets hope.
All games this last weekend (closest full list of matches to the event) in the main leagues in England kicked off 7 minutes late, as a tribute to this, well justified. I just hope that nothing like this ever happens again, is all I can say.
The video, this is pre match at Liverpool, on Sunday, the best tribute I could think of
Of course for me, its not the football disaster closest to my heart. That happened just under 29 years ago, at Valley Parade, Bradford, a ground I was taken to games at a few times when younger, in the hope of making me ‘more of a man’, I guess, that boyish initiation into the rites of football. I showed some interest, and indeed went a few times on my own, but now its about 10 years since I went there. But for 2 games that I escorted Eric to, at Huddersfield, as treats, I havent been to a game in all that time, and not likely to change.
The day of the Bradford disaster was a Saturday, and I was at work in Yeovil. Someone came in with the news, knowing they were ‘my team’ (as much as any was) and someone had a radio (yes, no TV in betting shops back then!) and I was able to get details that way. 56 people died, no one I knew thankfully, but anyway…I hoped then that it was the last time I would hear news like that, sadly it wasnt.
So today, we remember those poor 96 people who died at Hillsborough, 25 years ago today.
Rest in peace.