Just six minutes into the 1989 FA Cup semi-final between Liverpool and Nottingham Forest a policeman ran onto the pitch and told referee Ray Lewis to stop the game. The football was over. Far more important matters were unfolding.
The April 15 1989 disaster at Hillsborough which claimed 96 victims was one of the most publicly witnessed tragedies in our history. The Sheffield Wednesday ground was full of Liverpool and Nottingham Forest supporters; as the TV crew recording the match realised what was happening they began a live broadcast via BBC ’s Grandstand programme; and Radio Two’s Peter Jones unforgettably relayed the horror of it all to those of us listening in cars, at work, at home.
Lord Justice Taylor’s report on the disaster found there had been a series of problems leading to the huge death toll: motorway delays meant many arrived late at the ground and were rushing to get in; the central cage at the Leppings Lane end should have had a capacity of 1600 but instead was down for 2000, and in fact far more than that had made their way in by kick-off. But above all it was a failure of control by police, who mistakenly opened a gate causing a flood of latecomers to be funnelled into the already crowded central zone, their mass pushing those before them until those at the very front, penned in by the security fencing, were asphyxiated. For reasons still not understood no stewards had been in the right place to intervene and direct supporters away from the already congested central area. In their defence the police involved have always pointed out that their action was taken in haste because of the developing crush at the turnstiles – of which there were too few, another factor highlighted in the aftermath.
A private prosecution of two senior police officers failed when one was declared too ill to attend the trial, and it was thought unfair to continue against the other because of that. The inquest into the deaths at Hillsborough proved highly controversial, a time limit of 15.15 on the day of the disaster being set by the coroner preventing consideration of subsequent events, including the prevention by the police of ambulances getting into the ground, and their focus on keeping rival fans apart even though it was obvious that violence was not the problem.
As a direct result of the inquiries into the events at Hillsborough all-seater stadiums became a requirement for top-flight clubs, and security fencing was removed.
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From dave french on 18th April 2011
HILLSBOROUGH The Mersey heart stopped pumping on that afternoon of hell, but the red vein kept on flowing the front line cried and fell. The whistle blew, the ball ran still, the reaper wrote the score, one hundred lost from Liverpool for God one hundred more. The Mersey heart stopped beating when the policeman called full time, but the whistle wouldn't blow for those lying helplessly entwined. No end in site, to end their game for death plays to no rules, walk on, Walk on, but not alone the game of life is cruel. The Mersey folk stopped laughing on that afternoon of hell, no jokes, no whit, no happy tales no funny yarns to tell. And as the red sunset on Anfield Shankley's spirit closed its eyes, The full Moon rose over Liverpool ..and cried.
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