Feature by John McCormick
Updated Saturday, 29th November 2003
Over few months a few people have asked us to put something together to explain why the Hillsborough Justice Campaign still exists, letting people know what the current siuation is, so here it is...15th April 1989 is a date that indelibly emblazoned across the hearts of every man, woman and child on Merseyside. A day that started with all the joy and expectancy of an FA Cup semi-final but which ultimately ended with ninety-six football fans losing their lives, for the support of their club.
Whilst Liverpool fans lay dead and dying on the Hillsborough turf, as trained police officers looked on, the cover-up into the causes of the disaster began. Graham Taylor falsely claimed that Liverpool fans had forced open a gate. The Hillsborough disaster was a catalogue of calamitous events- the incompetence of Sheffield Wednesday Football Club, the ineptitude of South Yorkshire police, the ineffectiveness of Sheffield City Council (the club never even had a valid safety certificate) and the arrogance of the Football Association. The Association that chose to give Nottingham Forest considerably more tickets than Liverpool, despite having considerably fewer fans, citing traffic logistics as a reason.
The events served to bond the people of Liverpool closer than ever before as fans of all clubs paid their respects to the dead at Anfield. It was difficult not to be moved by the sight of a Manchester United fan sat crying and bewildered in the Albert pub next to Kop.
In the days that followed the disaster and despite all evidence being to the contrary The S*n newspaper decided to publish an article entitles “The Truth”, in which it claimed that Liverpool fans had robbed and urinated on the dead and had attacked the police, apparently our saviours. The investigations and evidence were to prove this to be lies. The police had chosen to open an exit gate at the Leppings Lane end of the ground, at the other side of the gate was the entrance to a tunnel leading to the central pens. There was no stewarding or policing at the tunnel, nor was there any signs to indicate alternative entrances to the terracing. At the end of the tunnel lay closed pens from which there was no way out for the ninety-six fans who lost their lives.
Since that day the S*n newspaper has been reviled on Merseyside and remains the subject of a mass boycott. We would urge all football fans of all clubs to consider how The S*n portrayed fellow football fans, in the days while we were all grieving, and would ask them to join our boycott of this vile rag. A recent media week study into the boycott on Merseyside estimated that the boycott had cost the S*n around £25 Million since the article.
Please Do Not Buy The S*n.
The Lord Justice Taylor inquiry into the events found the main cause of the disaster to be “The breakdown of Police control”. No court of law in this land has ever considered events after 3.15 on that day. Events such as the police refusing entry to the Stadium for Ambulance-men on the grounds that “People were fighting on the pitch”, events such as the Police sending for dog-handlers rather than emergency services with fence-cutting equipment. Anne Williams, who lost her fifteen year old son, Kevin, at Hillsborough describes the actions of the Liverpool fans that day as “heroic”, young untrained men trying to save the lives of the dead and injured, whilst trained Police Officers formed a cordon to keep fans off the pitch, and turned away ambulance-men armed with life-saving equipment.
Nobody has ever been held accountable in a British Courtroom for the events of that day, and the cover-up around Hillsborough continues. Anne received £3500 compensation for the loss of her young son whilst former police sergeant Martin Long received about one hundred times that amount for the Post Traumatic Stress he received whilst carrying out his duties.
In the fifteenth season since the disaster, the dead, bereaved and survivors of Hillsborough still fight for Justice. There has to be some accountability for the death of ninety-six people, even if the authorities see them as merely football fans, in 1989 the lowest of the low. It appears increasingly likely that the fight for Justice will never be resolved in a British Courtroom and will reach its ultimate destination in the European Courts, but the people of Merseyside and the fans of Liverpool Football Club will not let the fight for “The Truth” go away.
Justice is a complex notion, it can mean so much on so many different levels. It is not something which is black and white, justice is the truth of Hillsborough and Justice is a struggle. It will not be achieved overnight, but it will be achieved, and it is only through truth and accountability that it can be achieved.
The Hillsborough Justice Campaign represents bereaved families, survivors and supporters campaigning for justice for the 96 people who died at Sheffield Wednesday's Hillsborough football ground on 15th April 1989. The truth about Hillsborough is still denied by the authorities.
The campaign is situated at 178 Walton Breck Road, facing the Albert Pub and behind the Kop. All football fans are more than welcome to call in when you are at Anfield and have a look around our shop and premises, your support would be greatly appreciated, the group meet at 8pm every Monday evening at the premises.
Hillsborough Justice Campaign