The struggle for justice continues
April 15th 1989 was a dark day for Liverpool; it was a dark day for English football; it was a dark day for Britain.
In a neutral football stadium in Sheffield, in Northern England, two longstanding and proud clubs, Liverpool FC and Nottingham Forest FC, were scheduled to play a semi-final of the FACup, the largest and most prestigious prize in English football. The match kicked off at 3pm and was halted at 3.06pm. Within these few short minutes 96 men, women and children had had the life squeezed out of them in a filled-to-double-capacity standing room only “pen”. A further 766 sustained injuries. They were all Liverpool supporters. This awful tragedy has been well-documented here in England and a comprehensive account is available here. It remains the most serious disaster in British sporting history.
In September 2012 the truth about the Hillsborough disaster was finally made public: until this time the public had been duped by the systematic lying and deceit of the South Yorkshire Police, and insulted by the hysterical and sensationalist press especially The Sun newspaper.
The Wikipedia entry (which I’ve linked to above) explains everything, but is a long read. In short, and in my opinion, these are the bones of the matter –
- The stadium was not fit for purpose, and should never have been used for such a huge match. Problems had come to light before and been dismissed.
- From the time the stadium was opened to fans until the kick-off, the police acted irresponsibly,wrongly, negligently and without due regard for human safety.
- The police prevented scores of ambulances on standby outside the stadium from entering to help the injured.
- 41 of the 96 fatalities may have been avoided if the victims had received prompt medical attention. Only 14 of the 96 made it to hospital.
- 79 of the 96 were aged 30 or under, the youngest just 10 years old.
- 164 police questioned in the aftermath later systematically and fraudulently changed their statements so that responsibility for the tragedy was put squarely on the shoulders of the Liverpool fans.
- Many survivors have continued to suffer severe emotional and psychological effects.
- The lies were upheld by the authorities for 23 years. Shame on you all.
During those 23 years a group of people known as the Hillsborough Family Support Group, made up of bereaved family members, survivors and other football supporters, has worked tirelessly to ensure that the truth was told and justice was done for the victims. It has cost thousands of pounds to keep the pressure on and pay the fees of legal experts. It is still unclear whether individual inquests into the deaths of the 96 will ever happen.
This week in the UK a song will be released to raise money for the justice campaign. It’s a cover of the 1989 Hollies hit “He Ain’t Heavy He’s My Brother” and is performed by an all-star cast of Liverpudlians, other concerned singers and sporting stars including:-
Sir Paul McCartney, Robbie Williams, Mel C (of The Spice Girls), Kenny Dalgliesh, Holly Johnson, Gerry Marsden, Alan Hansen, Ricky Tomlinson, Rebecca Ferguson, Beverley Knight, Paloma Faith, Peter Hooton (of The Farm) and John Bishop.
It is available as a download from iTunes.
Update 23rd. December 2012 :- I’m pleased to report that “He Ain’t Heavy, He’s My Brother” has been the biggest selling single of this week and is no.1 in the chart. Having the no.1 spot at Christmas is highly sought after – as there will be no new chart next week because of the holidays, the top spot is guaranteed for two whole weeks. The sale of the track has raised almost half a million pounds for the Hillsborough family fund, but more importantly it has shown that this is still a high profile case and the British public really does care about the Justice campaign.
Follow this link to an excellent new article on The Critique Archives http://wp.me/p1mmS-mf which explains exactly why the Football Association and Sheffield Wednesday Football Club, owner of the Hillsborough Stadium, must each accept their share of the blame along with South Yorkshire Police.