25 years ago, 96 people went to watch a football game and never returned home. The Hillsborough disaster hit football so hard that it changed almost every single stadium in the country so that a real tragedy like this could be avoided in the future.
It’s incredible when you look back at an incident and see the impact that it’s had on so many different people. The community of Liverpool was in shock, disbelief and then anger as both The Sun and the police tried to blame for the fans entirely for the crush. That anger still resonates but hopefully justice can finally come to light in the new inquiry.
The footballing community, as we’ve seen in the many reports and displays from clubs around the globe today, came together in a show of strength that Liverpool aren’t alone in their grief. It’s a pain that we can’t even comprehend but the entire footballing world wants to show its support in the most testing of times.
The city of Sheffield, where I spent my University life, still feels the pain from that day in 1989. Many of the shops in the city have signs saying they would hold a silence at 15:06 with the staff to commemorate those we lost and it shows the beautiful unity of people when the worst happens (thanks to Holly Evans for the information).
It’s even affected my own life, not just because we now watch in much safer stadiums but personally. My dad, uncle and granddad were in the Nottingham Forest end of the ground, oblivious to the tragedy happening at the other end until they set off home after the match was called off. I’ve also been to Hillsborough several times and paid my respects every time I go.
Watching the video above (I wanted to credit who found it on YouTube but I’ve lost who it was, apologies) it feels very eerie, a day that stood still because of such a tragedy. But what resonates with me is when Des Lynam said: “FA Cup semi-finals aren’t a rarity at Hillsborough, there’s always something of a crush.”
For someone that grew up with all-seater stadiums, that sentence feels so alien. That being even slightly crushed was just something you dealt with to watch football, it begins to make you wonder whether something should have been done earlier to avoid such a tragedy from happening.
I love football, but there are much bigger things in the world than watching a ball being kicked around a field. My thoughts are with the families of the 96 today and I hope that in the near future they find the justice they have sought for so long.