Tuesday the 26th of April 2016 will always be remembered as a momentous day. This was the day when victory for endeavour and justice was achieved in the name of the 96 men, women and children who lost their lives at Hillsborough on the 15th of April 1989. The two dates will be etched on the memory of all those affected. Those that know nothing of the Hillsborough disaster will look at those dates and take a second look and wonder why it took twenty-seven years to exonerate those that were blamed and shine a light on those that decided that they were not going to take responsibility for their failings – of which there were many.
Being safe at a football match or any other public event that involves large crowds and even larger infrastructure is something that we all take for granted. Something else that is expected in all developed countries is the presence and integrity of the authorities, that act to keep us safe. Nobody should go to a football match and not return home, the fact that 96 people lost their lives doing something that they loved will have provided no comfort to the families.
Tragedy on a scale such as the Hillsborough disaster is unfathomable and beyond comprehension but what was to follow made matters much worse, the families of the 96 victims were left with what must have felt like having to climb a mountain every day for 27 years. The days and weeks that followed defined the pattern of life for everyone, those in a position of responsibility decided they were not going to be responsible and as we know now, cover up the true version of events that took place that day. Added to that were the abhorrent lies and toxic smear campaign in the national press against those Liverpool fans that had attended the game.
A verdict of accidental death was declared, a result that was always likely considering the devious, corrupt actions of the South Yorkshire Police, who showed no conscience or moral compass. Any verdict other than an accidental one would have meant an investigation of those responsible and a just outcome, instead, for 27 years the families had to fight to defend the honour of their loved ones and they had to fight the establishment, instead of grieving they were tormented.
Some would crumble in the face of such adversity and such heartache but not the families of the 96, not once in the time that had elapsed did they ever give up. The establishment weren’t going to win, the families were not going away and the truth was always going to out and those that thought they would evade punishment can now look forward to enduring the sleepless nights the families have had to endure for 27 years, as the verdict of accidental death was overturned and a verdict of unlawful killing was reached. Furthermore, the facts of what happened and how it happened were laid bare. Fatal mistakes were made. Equally important was the fact that the inquest into the events of that day found that the fans played no part in the tragic outcome – contrary to what the national press had peddled for some time. Sadly, mud sticks and Liverpool fans were vilified then and continued to be throughout the 27 years. To this day a minority still sling that mud, unfortunately for that minority, the mud no longer sticks.
Closure is a word that is naturally spoken at a time like this and especially given the time the families have had to wait for this verdict. Full closure can only come when those that were part of one of the biggest cover-ups in British History are held accountable for their actions. Additionally, apologies from every single individual that injected the vicious disease of slanderous lies into the public’s consciousness must be forthcoming.
Whether or not those that lacked a moral compass back in 1989 have found a new direction will remain to be seen but one thing is for sure, justice is coming for them and it is in the shape of 96 wronged families and many more besides and unlike the 96, the families, the fans and everyone connected to Liverpool FC, they will be walking alone.
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