It was supposed to be a joyous occasion for all concerned, as Liverpool fans headed to Hillsborough to watch the FA Cup semi-final match against Nottingham Forest. What actually unfolded on that horrific day in April 1989, will never be forgotten. A total of 96 fans were crushed and killed inside the stadium, leading to an original verdict of accidental death. In the immediate aftermath of the disaster, the police blamed ticketless and drunk fans, who had arrived late to the stadium, for what happened. However, thanks to the tireless work, led by the families and survivors, the truth has emerged as to what really happened to those people, aged between 10 and 67, who travelled to support their team.
In 2012, following the hard work and campaign of the families and survivors, the High Court quashed the original accidental death verdict and ordered new inquests. The hearing spanned just over two years and after hearing all the evidence, the truth about what really happened was finally revealed. The Jury concluded the 96 fans were unlawfully killed and played no role in the cause of the disaster inside the stadium. When the verdict was read out, families could be seen punching the air in delight and hugging each other, as emotion began to pour out for all those who have been affected by the disaster.
The jurors found that all but three of the victims died as a direct result of compression asphyxia and that police errors at the turnstiles, resulted in what turned out to be a deadly situation. It was also concluded, that the failures of commanding offices, caused a crush on the terraces and other factors, such as defects at the stadium, the delay in emergency response and misleading information at the stadium and on match tickets, all contributed to the disaster.
David Crompton, the Chief Constable of South Yorkshire Police, said in a statement after the verdict was reached, the force had got the policing of the match “catastrophically wrong.” Crompton went on to say, “The force failed the victims and failed their families. Today, as I have said before, I want to apologize unreservedly to the families and all those affected.”
The fight for the truth has been ongoing for over 20 years and it’s been found that as many as 41 of the 96 victims could have been saved, if they received prompt medical attention.
However, despite all the hard work of the families and survivors, the verdict will not bring back those who were lost on that awful day in Sheffield. The comments of Trevor Hicks, who lost his daughters that day, leave a stark reminder of just how awful it was. “You go to a football match on a lovely sunny morning and you come home without your daughters, who are in a body bag back in Sheffield.” Although the fight for justice for the 96 people killed has been won and the truthful verdict finally reached, it will never bring back those who had their lives sadly cut short.
The final official Hillsborough memorial service was held at Anfield on the 15th April but there will never be a final service, thought or word for those affected by the disaster. There can be no closure, only thanks for all those who have worked so hard, to find the truth about what happened.
To all those who lost their lives at Hillsborough that day, you’ll never walk alone.
There will be a gathering today at 5.45pm at St Goerge’s Hall and Lime Street in recognition of the outcome of the Hillsborough inquest verdict. Members of the public are also invited to join the families of the 96 victims.
As many as 30,000 people are expected to commemorate the occasion, where the names and age’s of each victim will be read out.
Watch the video of the families singing you’ll never walk alone after the verdict.