I attended my first football match at the age of 5, too short to stand on the Kippax at Maine Road, so I had to sit on the wall at the front of the terrace, with my Dad keeping an eye on me from his standing position a few yards behind me. As soon as I grew, I was able to “graduate” to standing on the terrace, along with thousands of other city fans, who preferred to stand at football. Huge terraces with noisy fans was what football was all about.
But that was all to change following the terrible events of the Hillsborough disaster.
What happened on that fateful day haunts not only those who were there, but those football fans from all over the country who watched transfixed with horror, as BBC’s Grandstand beamed live pictures across the nation, some of them no doubt thinking “This could have been me, my friends, or even worse a family member.”
That the families of those killed have endured a 23 year wait to be given the full picture of how loved ones lost their lives is nothing short of scandalous. I am sure I am among many who welcome the news that they will finally be given documents that hopefully holds the answers to the questions they still have.
What is equally outrageous is the lack of sincere apologies from those who sought to smear the reputations of Liverpool fans, particularly those high up in South Yorkshire Police who were on duty that day and The Sun newspaper, whose front page article headlined “The Truth” accusing Liverpool supporters of acts of dreadful violence and theft was reprehensible, especially as there was no real evidence to back up their claims to the truth.
The platitudes they have previously offered have sounded disingenuous at best and it is time for an unforced apology; one without any hidden agenda, that comes from the very top including Rupert Murdoch himself and the then Editor in Chief of the Sun newspaper, Kelvin MacKenzie.
My thoughts remain with those families who still live with the aftermath of Hillsborough and I hope that the documents released today will finally bring them some of the peace and closure they deserve after so long.
Once I’ve had chance to listen to the PM’s statement at 12.30pm and see the documents, I’ll blog again.