Friday, April 15, 2005

hillsborough '89 (this is an extremely long post)

Bruce Grobbelaar, who was closest to the Leppings Lane terrace, quickly realised there was something terribly wrong when he went to retrieve a ball and heard fans screaming - 'They're killing us, Bruce, they're killing us.' Bruce shouted at the stewards to do something.

John Aldrige- 'I cast my eyes over to John Barnes and could see tears in his eyes. He was sitting there quietly, not wanting to be disturbed.'

John Barnes- 'People wept all the way home. All the wives were crying. I was crying. Kenny was crying. Bruce said he was considering quitting.'

Today marks the 16th year since the greatest tragedy which saw 96 Liverpool fans lose their lives.

Guess I won't be in my usual crappy mood to entertain you guys, I've been browsing through the net and read various articles and reports written by countless individuals who, in one way or another, are able to relate to the saddest day in Liverpool history. Some of them almost brought me close to my tears, for as long as I have been a Liverpool supporter, I have never been able to imagine the horrific day that struck on the 15th of April 1989.

I'll share some (a lot actually) of the recollections of those who are unfortunately stuck with this painful memory for the rest of their lives. Do read, and you'll understand why I think Liverpool Football Club is the greatest football club in the world, and why I am so proud to be a tiny fan among so many loyal Liverpudlians.

Kenny Dalglish- 'I will never, never forget 15 April, 1989. I cannot even think of the name Hillsborough, cannot even say the word, without so many distressing memories flooding back. I find it very difficult to write about Hillsborough, where terrible mistakes by the authorities, both police and football, ended with 96 of our supporters dead. The memory will remain with me for the rest of my life.'

Alan Hansen- 'Two months short of my thirty-fourth birthday, I had been out of Liverpool's first team for nine months - the result of a dislocated left knee sustained in a pre-season friendly against Atletico Madrid in Spain - and had only started playing again, for the reserves, four days before the semi-final. The Liverpool fans gave me a tremendous reception as I came on to the pitch, and I made a great start to the game. In those opening minutes, I hit three good passes - two long balls over the top of the Forest defence to Steve McMahon and the other to peter Beardsley, who hit a shot against the Forest bar. All my fears about my fitness evaporated. I felt as if I had never been away. Then, suddenly, I started to fall into the blackest period of my life.'

John Barnes- 'I went numb. I couldn't believe it. Complete silence seized the room. Every face turned towards the television screen. No one sat down. No one spoke. Forest's players were also in the lounge. What could they say? 'We're sorry your fans have been killed?' The fact that they played for Forest and we played for Liverpool was irrelevant. These were human beings who died.'

John Aldridge- 'For the two weeks following the disaster I was in a state of shock, helpless to do anything, I feel no shame in admitting Hillsborough affected me mentally for a time, a long time. I couldn't cope, It weakened me physically, emotionally and mentally. The thought of training never entered my head. I remember trying to go jogging but I couldn't run. There was a time when I wondered if I would ever muster the strength to play. I seriously considered retirement. I was learning about what was relevant in life. I didn't really see the point in football.'

John Barnes- 'Bill Shankly's comment that 'football is not a matter of life and death, it is far more important that that' sounded even falser after Hillsborough.'

John Aldridge- 'We often talk of nightmares in our lives, of disaster, of tragedies, but most of us don't really know what we're talking about. I was injured playing for Liverpool the season before Hillsborough and I called it a personal disaster. Disaster? When you know people have died in your vicinity you realise missing a football match or two through injury is irrelevant. Most things are irrelevant. The death of the innocent - the suffering, the injustice - is a real disaster. A real tragedy.'

Kenny Dalglish- 'The next day people began coming up to Anfield. They just wanted to leave tributes and flowers at the Shankly Gates. Peter Robinson got in touch with the groundsman and told him to open the ground. Liverpool Football Club didn't want supporters standing around on the street. That was a magnificent thing to do. At 6 p.m. we all went to St Andrews cathedral. Bruce Grobbelaar read from the scriptures. There was an awful sense of loss, confusion, frustation. So many emotions were felt. The players and their wives were determined to do something. We all went into Anfield the next day. The wives were brilliant. Everything just stopped and rightly so.It comforted people coming into Anfield, talking to the players, the wives, and having a cup of tea. Liverpool Football Club was the focus of so many people's lives that it was natural they should head for Anfield. It gave them somewhere to go, something to talk about.'

Steve Hunter, match commentator for the official LFC website:
I was hanging on to this rail for dear life and then the pressure of fans trying to get through took it's toll and I could hang on no longer. I was swept down the middle and I ended up on the floor and honestly thought I was going to die. How those poor fans at the front must have felt brings tears to my eyes as I'm writing this piece.

I was on the floor with bodies trampling all over the top of me. I was knocked unconscious then dazed I heard someone shout 'christ, there's a lad collapsed down here, let's get him out.' The next thing I knew I was lifted over the top of the perimeter fencing and when I regained my senses I found myself on the pitch witnessing the aftermath of your worst ever nightmare. It's not even a nightmare is it to be honest, it was pure hell and I was living it.

Anfield was a shrine and the Kop was littered with scarfs and banners all paying their respects. When football resumed it was fitting Liverpool's first game was against Dalglish's old club Celtic in a friendly and the atmosphere in Celtic was just something else, when the whole 60,000 crowd were singing 'You'll Never Walk Alone' in unison.

Kenny Dalglish deserved a medal for what he did for the people after Hillsborough, and the players and backroom staff including Phil Thompson were absolutely fantastic. They went to funerals and talked to the families and survivors offering comfort and trying to help people get on with their day to day lives.

Peter Hooton, lifelong Liverpool fan:
A fan appeared on the pitch, he seemed unsteady on his feet, nobody had the faintest idea of what was happening and then more and more people spilled out onto the pitch.

Forest fans began to sing "You Scouse bastards" thinking that this was indeed a pitch invasion. It soon became obvious that something more serious was happening but still the enormity of the tragedy could not have been imagined.

I saw heroes that day and the majority were not in uniform. The real heroes that day were the ordinary Liverpool fans who seemed to take control of the operation taking casualties to the opposite end of the pitch and laying the fans in the penalty area, in front of the Hillsborough Kop.

Some people refused to give up pumping chests of complete strangers or maybe loved ones, giving the kiss of life to fellow Liverpool fans as the line of the police looked on.

That day, that night, that week, that year, that decade I was inconsolable but I was also proud to be a Liverpudlian. I had witnessed the selflessness, courage and dignity you afforded the dead and dying before they were handed over to the authorities.

Hillsborough 96
John Alfred Anderson (62)
Thomas Howard (39)
Colin Mark Ashcroft (19)
Thomas Anthony Howard (14)
James Gary Aspinall (18)
Eric George Hughes (42)
Kester Roger Marcus Ball (16)
Alan Johnston (29)
Gerard Bernard Patrick Baron (67)
Christine Anne Jones (27)
Simon Bell (17)
Gary Philip Jones (18)
Barry Sidney Bennett (26)
Richard Jones (25)
David John Benson (22)
Nicholas Peter Joynes (27)
David William Birtle (22)
Anthony Peter Kelly (29)
Tony Bland (22)
Michael David Kelly (38)
Paul David Brady (21)
Carl David Lewis (18)
Andrew Mark Brookes (26)
David William Mather (19)
Carl Brown (18)
Brian Christopher Mathews (38)
David Steven Brown (25)
Francis Joseph McAllister (27)
Henry Thomas Burke (47)
John McBrien (18)
Peter Andrew Burkett (24)
Marion Hazel McCabe (21)
Paul William Carlile (19)
Joseph Daniel McCarthy (21)
Raymond Thomas Chapman (50)
Peter McDonnell (21)
Gary Christopher Church (19)
Alan McGlone (28)
Joseph Clark (29)
Keith McGrath (17)
Paul Clark (18)
Paul Brian Murray (14)
Gary Collins (22)
Lee Nicol (14)
Stephen Paul Copoc (20)
Stephen Francis O'Neill (17)
Tracey Elizabeth Cox (23)
Jonathon Owens (18)
James Philip Delaney (19)
William Roy Pemberton (23)
Christopher Barry Devonside (18)
Carl William Rimmer (21)
Christopher Edwards (29)
David George Rimmer (38)
Vincent Michael Fitzsimmons (34)
Graham John Roberts (24)
Thomas Steven Fox (21)
Steven Joseph Robinson (17)
Jon-Paul Gilhooley (10)
Henry Charles Rogers (17)
Barry Glover (27)
Colin Andrew Hugh William Sefton (23)
Ian Thomas Glover (20)
Inger Shah (38)
Derrick George Godwin (24)
Paula Ann Smith (26)
Roy Harry Hamilton (34)
Adam Edward Spearritt (14)
Philip Hammond (14)
Philip John Steele (15)
Eric Hankin (33)
David Leonard Thomas (23)
Gary Harrison (27)
Patrik John Thompson (35)
Stephen Francis Harrison (31)
Peter Reuben Thompson (30)
Peter Andrew Harrison (15)
Stuart Paul William Thompson (17)
David Hawley (39)
Peter Francis Tootle (21)
James Robert Hennessy (29)
Christopher James Traynor (26)
Paul Anthony Hewitson (26)
Martin Kevin Traynor (16)
Carl Darren Hewitt (17)
Kevin Tyrrell (15)
Nicholas Michael Hewitt (16)
Colin Wafer (19)
Sarah Louise Hicks (19)
Ian David Whelan (19)
Victoria Jane Hicks (15)
Martin Kenneth Wild (29)
Gordon Rodney Horn (20)
Kevin Daniel Williams (15)
Arthur Horrocks (41)
Graham John Wright (17)
You'll Never Walk Alone
Rest in peace
Excerpts taken from:

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