Monday 15 April marked the 24th Anniversary of the Hillsborough disaster, and the first since release of the Independent Investigation which exonerated Liverpool fans of blame.
96 Liverpool fans died at Sheffield Wednesday’s Hillsborough Stadium on April 15, 1989 during a FA Cup semi-final against Nottingham Forrest. It is a day that will forever shock football fans across the UK.
It was only last year when I properly sat down to study the facts of the events of 1989 and I can now understand the importance of the continued Campaign for Justice amongst Liverpool fans and the footballing community alike.
The aftermath of the disaster focused on the behaviour of the Liverpool fans, placing the blame of the disaster solely upon them. Throughout the years, campaigners continued to push for the truth and realisation of the full facts about the events, amid suspicion that important details and witness statements had been withheld.
The report compiled by the Hillsborough Independent Panel found that over 160 witness statements had been altered in an attempt to shift the culpability. It was also found that the safety of the fans on April 15th, was “compromised at every level”. It was even suggested that 41 of the victims could have survived, if police had fully acted upon the dangers endured by the fans. It took too long for the police to react and attempt to rescue those in obvious danger. It also significantly highlighted the organised cover-up by South Yorkshire Police to shift blame from themselves.
It is an event that has united football fans across the UK, with even the strongest of rivals standing as one. Everton Chairman Bill Kenwright spoke at the annual anniversary service at Anfield, which I feel signifies the immensity of the tragedy.
My fourteen year old brother has a season ticket at our local football club. The thought of him going off to the game on Saturday, as he does every week, and not returning, is truly heart-breaking to even imagine for a moment. It is hard to begin to imagine what the families of those who died felt that day. And still feel now.
Apologies have been made in the last year or so, since the Independent report was published, so perhaps families and campaigners now feel justice has been unearthed. But will those to blame ever be prosecuted? Is it maybe all a little too late? I would argue not for the families who still crave the deserved justice for their loved ones. The truth may now be out, but justice I feel, has not been served.