“Some people believe football is a matter of life and death, I am very disappointed with that attitude. I can assure you it is much, much more important than that.” – Bill Shankley
I was a ten year old boy when I heard the news on the radio of a tragedy unfolding on the terraces of Hillsborough football ground. It was the 15th April 1989 and I remember being in the car listening to the panic and confusion from the reporters. We got home and turned on the TV to see images of carnage, hopelessness and tragedy as football faced one of its darkest days. Twenty four years later we are still discovering the truth about that day and tonight’s special of Panorama (9pm BBC1) will show footage long since locked away that shows that much of the evidence that could have helped to explain that day to the families of those who died and were injured.
There are obviously many questions which need to be answered about the cover up by the authorities and the politicians of the day – but the first thing is to establish the facts and the truth and then deal with those who stood in the way of I coming out. Today it was revealed that if he testimony of an off duty policeman who tried to resuscitate fifteen year old boy Kevin Williams had been heard and accepted then there would have been a very different picture painted that day. His evidence was undermined and the coroner claimed hat no-one could have survived after 3.15pm – Derek Bruder found a pulse on Kevin and tried the kiss of life to revive him nearly fifteen minutes after the coroner claimed no-one would be alive at 3.28pm.
The most shocking thing is that this moment in our recent history sums up our mistrust of authorities; with Police, Ambulance, Coroners and others all covering up the truth. It’s not as if it was about a small scale event – this is something that hundreds saw unfold live before their eyes and millions more watched on the TV. The long fight for justice is slowly being won but everyone needs to support the families throughout because I’m guessing that the truth, while allowing them to finally put the dead to rest, will open up new and deeper wounds that will never heal. This is a mistrust and lack of respect that needs to be earned back by the authorities by being 100% open and honest, handing over every single piece of evidence from that day to allow the true picture of those terrible events to be revealed.
Football is about community and a sense of belonging and the effects of that day still echo through the hearts of every football fan in the country, regardless of the colour of shirt. I just hope that the families will get the justice they have all fought so hard for and find the peace they deserve.