IT’S an enormous day. A momentous one, and one for which I, and many of us, were not prepared.
I’ve always wondered what it would feel like. I pictured celebrations in city squares, hugging strangers and downing pint after pint after pint as those responsible, and those who covered up those responsible, were taken to task.
It hasn’t been like that.
There’s no right or wrong emotion — we all take the verdict in different ways — but my overriding emotion is one of fury. Fury that it took so long. Fury that people were blamed when they should have been counselled. Fury at those who still continue to denigrate them because they believe they have to due to a supposedly programmed club allegiance.
Anger, too, at the authorities. At those who are no longer here to face up to the truth that came today. Anger at the decades lost to those through hurt and accusation. Anger at government after government and parties of either flavour who repeatedly turned down calls for a fresh enquiry. You would think Jack Straw would be on the side of the people.
”You know what Scousers are like, they are always up to something.”
How are you feeling today, Jack?
"We've made history today" says Margaret Aspinall, mother of Hillsborough victim https://t.co/Ey1I7XN5e3
— Sky News (@SkyNews) April 26, 2016
This will dissipate into relief. The truth — a truth we have always known — is now set in stone and all roads point to the next stage in the process. The initial report from the Hillsborough Independent Panel in September 2012 gave us truth — today gave us justice, and now we prepare for the ultimate — accountability.
This isn’t over and, sadly, for some it will never be.
For many this day will solve nothing. It cannot bring back their children, spouses or friends and it cannot shake the image of the empty seat in the car for the journey back from Sheffield all those years ago. It cannot help the pain of an uncelebrated birthday or the chance to see their children grow up. All it will do will remind them of something that they’ve always known: their people died needlessly, and by the negligent hand of those paid to protect them.
There are other victims, too. My friend was lucky. She made it off that terrace with little more than a broken rib, but such was the panic and horror she witnessed that day, she was unable to go to another game for a decade. Prior to April 1989 we went to every home game together.
Then there’s another friend who cannot enter a busy room without needing to know where all the exits are. He has to stand next to them should he be overcome with another wave of panic. Another still carried bodies that day and took years to come to terms with being in that situation.
Then there’s the poor souls who could not bear their survivor guilt and took their own lives because the pain was too great. I’m thinking of them today as well as Anne Williams and others who didn’t live to see this day. They will never know what happened in Warrington this morning.
These are not the 96. Ninety six is merely a number — not 96 people who had names, lives, careers, families, hopes and dreams. These are 96 empty seats in cars, at the Christmas dinner table and in the hearts of their loved ones forever. Ninety six is just a number. They are 96 people who died needlessly. Absolutely needlessly.
Today has brought relief to many people and it my only hope that those responsible for their decades of pain and false accusation will suffer in a similar fashion. Accountability comes next and the chickens will come home to roost regardless of supposed power and pay scale. The apprehension of the next step will terrify those who thought enough was done to save their skins. The anticipation of what lies ahead will give them sleepless nights.
It’s not that they knew. It’s that they always knew.
There will never be a solution to all this, only small victories. The man who told me in a job interview that “Hillsborough was down to hooligans” may raise his eyebrows at the news and get back to what he was doing, but the imbecile who stated in the comments field of an article I once wrote that I should have been the 97th victim that day will wrinkle his nose and sink deeper into his own hate. He’ll never realise that Hillsborough had nothing to do with football and everything to do with football fans being viewed as little more than feral beasts who deserve scorn. That was how we were seen back then.
There’s no right and wrong way to deal with today — be it joy, anger, tears or all three — but this is only a step in the process. We have another hill to climb. The narrative of those accused will harden and back will cover back if, or once, prosecutions arrive. Rats will do anything to save their skin. Anything.
Truth then justice then accountability.
They didn’t expect this fight. They didn’t expect this level of emotional stamina nor did they expect the families to get off the canvas time and again. But they did. The police and media hurled accusation at grief to reduce their fight to nothing and they still came back. They expected that fight to die. It did not.
We can now use this word as a statement rather than a battle cry:
A man city fan I work with was still trotting out the same old bullshit even after the verdict.
27 years later he finally bothered to read up on what happened and apologised.
27 years!!! So sad. So depressing.
Let’s hope anyone close to this gets something out of today.
This should be treated as the holocaust denial is treated; with imprisonment. Enough is enough. I received vile texts from Man U supporters yesterday. They just dont get it and I suppose they never will.
I didn’t get to Hillsborough, the first semi final I missed since 1965. My ‘phone rang all day from family and friends calling and hoping for an answer. My ‘phone rang again today with news of the verdict. I cried it seemed for days in 1989, today I have been emotional but proud of the families and all connected with the fight to restore the honour of the dead and seek justice.
YNWA RIP 96
It’s just so sad it’s taken this long for the actual feral beasts to be shown to the world, something we’ve all known for 27 years, let’s have that accountanility now please but the thoughts of those rats brung backed into the corner does give some small satifaction! The families and people of Liverpool should hold their heads high tonight, they never gave up. YNWA JFT96
South Yorkshire Police as an institution of individuals pledged and paid out of public funds to serve and protect the public has been and continues to be corrupt, rotten to the core, not fit for purpose — on multiple fronts. Hillsborough; the Rotherham sex abuse and child grooming revelations; allegations of local council corruption; politically sponsored fraud, corruption, and relentless systematic abuse of vulnerable women who pose a threat by virtue of exposure of that corruption; refusal to record and prosecute reported crimes; refusal to provide information under FOI; harassment of citizens. It goes on and on. And that’s not even mentioning drawing West Midlands Police into their murky darkness by tasking them to collect and then alter hundreds of statements from Hillsborough survivors to build their coverup and deflection of blame unto Liverpool supporters. Many of those individuals were teenagers and young adults who were raised to show respect toward the police and therefore didn’t initially question when they were cruelly used and manipulated against their own interests.
Complaints against SYP increased by 44% in a recent one-year period. Between April 2014 and March 2015 there were 660 official complaints lodged against the force, compared to 459 the year before. I’ve been asked to not post links in these comments, so I can’t point people to the sources of this information. But it can be easily found. The point is the Hillsborough verdict is now legally binding, and we can only hope that those working for Operation Resolve and the IPCC will have the same courage as the Warrington jurors had to pursue the next step toward justice, which as Karl so eloquently stated is holding the people we know are culpable to accountability. South Yorkshire Police needs to be completely dismantled, restructured, reorganised, and their activities involving systematic abuse of the public trust over decades need to be further exposed.
Interesting. Just came across the following in a Daily Mail article. I don’t typically read the Daily Fail, but I haven’t seen this reported in any other mainstream paper:
“Labour MP John Mann said South Yorkshire Police should be disbanded and either re-configured as a new force based on the Sheffield City Region or merged with the West Yorkshire force.
‘Nobody should pre-judge ongoing inquiries into the police but, whatever conclusions they reach, the credibility of the institution of South Yorkshire Police has been irreparably damaged,’ he said
‘It needs a new identity and, more importantly, a new ethos and ethics. South Yorkshire Police should be disbanded.
‘There are many hard-working police officers and staff currently working for South Yorkshire Police who have joined in recent years and they deserve a fresh start.'”
People like Bernhard Ingham (twat!!), Maggie Thatcher, Kelvin McKenzie should hold their heads in shame (they wont of course). These people did not do this to save their own skin, they did it to score points – political points and social points.
They do not know right from wrong, they only want to make headlines.
Scum, all of them
At last The Truth is really out, not the S*n version of The Truth, but the real version of The Truth.
RIP the 96 and all those who have not made it through 27 years. The families have shown great dignity,
shame so many others (politicians, Media, Police and away fans still plying their bile on this) have not.
My own brother is a Man City fan (not the same as the fan MKKM refers to above). Yesterday afternoon, a couple of hours after the verdict he posts on social media that the sole reason for Hillsborough was ‘ticketless fans’. Ignorance. Stubbornness. Blind loyalty to his choice of football team.
I spent six hours arguing/discussing/convincing him yesterday that he was wrong and, eventually he apologised. ‘I didn’t know that…’ being the main theme.
Yesterday brought justice first and foremost to the families of the 96 and to all those injured in any way. First and foremost. Secondly it brought justice to the City of Liverpool which has stood foresquare and central behind all these families and injured. And of course widespread accountability should and must follow.
But let’s not kid ourselves for a second that people who don’t know what happened will understand or want to understand. They do not and will not, their ignorance and hate is stronger to them than empathy. and not that it matters a jot in context, but there are still millions of minor hills for all of us to climb.
In the same way that fans of other clubs judge fans of my club Newcastle United as fickle, deluded etc because we don’t like Mike Ashley etc, the reasons are there if you just look for them. Some research on the subject of both Mike Ashley and Hillsborough will lead you to a better, more rounded opinion of the subject at hand (and perhaps the ability to sympathise, rather than abuse or criticise).
With all the online resources available online in the modern day, there really is no need for ignorance of any subject you wish to have an informed opinion on.
I’m glad the events of yesterday played out the way they did, truth that not all football fans are animals or yobs. I salute the tireless efforts of the families and friends involved in the struggle for the actual truth.
JFT96 (Finally and thankfully)
Every word exactly correct. I have personally experienced that wall of stubborn blindness with someone I thought had the intelligence and humanity to be able to understand. But she clings to her view, and it has nothing to do with football club allegiance. Some people simply need to have someone else to look down on in an attempt to think themselves taller. But we all know who stands the tallest and bravest and best, while doing so with dignity and humility. That is all that really matters in that regard.
I sat down to write a response but am struggling to find the words.
96 deaths is a tragedy. But 27 years of lies and cover-up, of the resulting suffering is not. It is something more. If we jail people for crimes committed with high emotion in an instant, what then of crimes committed in cold blood in 27 years of instants. I agree people should be held to account, but I cannot think of a punishment that fits this crime.
Idiot fans of other clubs I couldn’t care less about.
Justice at last for the 96 and rightful recognition of a generation of true heroes.
I am elated that the bereaved can now possibly have closure and begin to grieve like anyone who has lost loved one should be allowed to, my thoughts and prayers are with them.
But whether they can ever forgive, I cant. And that’s a blight on our short time on earth.
I wont forget that the country as a whole largely were all to quick to believe we were culpable. No wonder I and many of my comrades in the republic consider ourselves “Scouse Not English”.
‘But let’s not kid ourselves for a second that people who don’t know what happened will understand or want to understand.’
Very good point. Some are so hopelessly blinded by their tribal loyalties that they will never allow themselves to be properly informed. They aren’t important though. Not even footnotes in the overall context of what yesterday represented.
The sight of the families singing You’ll Never Walk Alone outside is one that will endure forever.
The greatest anthem of them all.
I was there in 1989. I was only a couple of months past the age of 10. My second semi-final in two years. Thankfully, I was in the north stand and I don’t mind admitting I didn’t really understand what was going. My overriding feeling was disappointment that the game was being called off. Seems utterly stupid and selfish now, considering what was going on.
But it didn’t take me long to understand what had happened and that the aftermath was total and utter lies.
I was numb yesterday when the verdicts were given – not knowing what to feel. I thought I’d be elated, but I just wasn’t. I went to that game as a scrawny 10-year old, with my Liverpool kit on and spiky hair (it was in, in those days!!). I’m now a father and 3 years off 40. How the fuck has it taken this long for this to officially come out? I’m pleased. I’m relieved. I’m sad. I’m still angry.
I cried at my desk in work, with colleagues – mostly women who are not really football fans – not knowing what the hell was happening. When I explained, they were sympathetic, but I just knew they still didn’t really understand why. They didn’t understand the extent of the cover up, of what had happened; of why it’s hurt us so much since. These are innocent, decent people who I know understand right from wrong.
There’s a whole world of people out there that don’t know what happened that day. And regardless or not of any allegiance to another club, I’m not sure they will ever understand or take the time to understand.
The truth is out now. We knew it. And we were proved right.
JUSTICE FOR THE 96. Finally.
27 years. 27 years. Just let that sink in. I was right behind the goal that day with my Dad. I was 24 and he was really old, he was 49. Strange, I am now older than he was on the day.
We both survived although he died 2 years ago never hearing the verdict. We always knew the Truth, we always knew the Truth.
Yesterday was strange, I was in tears just waiting for each of the answers to the questions to be announced.
I was positive Question 6 was going to be a No and Question 7 was going to be Yes.
I knew what was right but after 27 years I had lost faith. Faith in the system and faith in people.
More tears when at Yes for Question 6, sobbing I then waited for Q7. No a resounding No.
Then a strange feeling.
Do I celebrate? What is there to celebrate? Is this really Justice? Can you call waiting for 27 years Justice?
Also is it right to celebrate when 96 people lost their lives….
Today is a new day, do I feel any different?
Not really, the memories of that day will never go away, the fact my Dad never got to hear the system admit the Truth. He is also never got to see anyone made accountable for the unlawful deaths and the subsequent cover up (and I have no idea if I will ever see that).
Will I ever trust the system, No, not at all.
I have no idea why I am writing this. the feelings in my head are so mixed up.
It is a date we never thought would happen.
Accept the wins when they come.
27 years, it took 27 years but at the very least we saw the Truth made Public.
It is something that should never be forgotten.
The next generation need constant education to ensure history does not airbrush this away.
That Duckenfield and co made an error is bad enough, not accepting responsibility for their error was even worse, but to shift the blame on to the victims was possibly the worst act an authority can do to its citizens. The fact that the authorities & media swallowed the police line and repeated it and the fact that other citizens from different parts of the country used that lie born of cowardice and disrespect to torment Liverpool fans – in some cases people deeply effected by the event – and to pretend they were somehow worse than other people is a reality which should shame us all as humans (that we are capable of sonething so low) and I hope especially shames those that did the above.
Even reading the news yesterday, I can’t rid myself of the suspicion that all this is being done to ‘shut the whinging scousers up’ because to them it’s just history. I hope I’m just being cynical.
It’s easy and convenient to think it’s aimed particularly at Scousers, but SYP has perpetrated abuse and coverups against other population groups in their own back yard, including minority populations. They were hugely involved in Orgreave, and the miners have only begun their fight for justice, hopefully emboldened by the success of the Hillsborough families’ campaign for justice.