The Hillsborough 96 — 30 Years Later

April 15th, 1989, the football world changed dramatically.  It was the FA Cup semifinal between Nottingham Forrest and Liverpool that was set to take place at Hillsborough Stadium in Sheffield, England.  Thousands of Liverpool fans were entering the stadium at an extremely slow pace due to the turnstiles at the gate.  Just 15 minutes before the start of the match, only 2,000 Liverpool fans had entered the Lepping Lane entrance of the stadium.  In an effort to get the remaining fans in, police opened an exit gate known as “gate C.”  This move caused a stampede of fans to pour into the stadium at an unsafe rate.

Over 3,000 fans poured into an area that was only meant for roughly 1,600 people.  With fans packed into the standing room only area and the two pens behind the goal, people were literally getting crushed to death.  Fans began to enter the field and police thought they were trying to invade the pitch.  However; they were trying to get to safety.  Just six minutes into the match, police ran on to the field to have the match stopped to prevent the players and fans from mixing.

But by this point, it was already too late for many.  Fans collapsed left and right from suffocation.  It took nearly 30 minutes to even call for medical help.  Fans ripped up advertisements to create stretchers for those who collapsed.  People with no medical training were trying to perform CPR on the victims but with little luck.  At this point, disaster had struck and ended before anyone even knew what was really happening.

96 people lost their lives and another 760+ were injured.  To this day, it is the most devastating tragedy to ever happen at a sporting event in Europe.

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The Ugly Truth

Initially, police said that it was the rowdy fans that caused the 96 deaths.  And in 1991 as a result of the Taylor Report, a jury ruled the 96 deaths accidental.  Seven years later, families and friends of loved ones who passed don’t buy it and file a lawsuit.  The lawsuit was a civil manslaughter case against South Yorkshire Police supervisors Duckenfield and Bernard Murray.  Unfortunately, two years later the jury finds Murray not guilty and deadlocked on Duckenfield.

Related imageBut the families don’t give up.  Nine years later, the 20th anniversary, a new panel is formed called the Hillsborough Independent Panel.  Their task is to investigate whether or not the authorities were to blame for the 96 deaths and hundreds of injuries.  At this point, families are holding on to the last few chances at hope for justice.  And their prayers were answered.  Three years after the creation of the panel, they were able to find an overwhelming amount of evidence that says that due to the lack of response and failures of authorities were the cause of the disaster.  Furthermore; they state that had the medical assistance had arrived earlier, 41 lives could’ve been saved.

Justice for the Hillsborough 96

That same year, a jury quashes the accidental death ruling opening up a new case.  In 2014 a new case began and justice was brought to the Hillsborough 96.  A jury votes 7-2 that the 96 fans were killed unlawfully from crushing in 2016.  This was many of massive steps to get justice for the those who were killed or injured.

In 2017 six people, including Duckenfield, were charged with criminal offenses.  He has since plead not guilty and the case is still ongoing.  And it was announced last month that he will not be called to present evidence at the trial.  This case has come a long way from 1990 when the deaths were ruled accidental to now criminal charges for negligence.  Since that tragedy, the English Premier League has banned standing room only.  They’ve also have had upgrades to nearly every stadium in England which include the banishment of metal fences, and no alcohol to be consumed on the terraces.

You’ll Never Walk Alone

Liverpool have the number 96 on the back of their jerseys in honor the Hillsborough victims.  Hopefully, they’ll finally receive their final bit of good news shortly.  Liverpool is the most historic soccer club in the world and have some of the most passionate fans.  There is a reason why their slogan is “You’ll Never Walk Alone.”

 

 

– Brian Berard (@RockyBerard)

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