It took 27 years and the longest case heard by a jury in British legal history but justice has finally been served to Liverpool: the city that never gave up.
The Hillsborough disaster occurred on 15th April 1989 at the FA Cup semi-final between Liverpool Football Club and Nottingham Forest at Sheffield Wednesday’s ground. With 766 injured and 96 dead, it remains to this day the largest sporting disaster in British history. Ever since that day, the families of the 96 have fought tirelessly for justice not just from the South Yorkshire Police, but also from those who laid the burden of blame on our fans. I’m sure any football fan knows which newspaper I’m thinking of. Yes, The S*n.
You don’t understand why we boycott The S*n? It goes back to the Wednesday following the Hillsborough disaster, when the front page of their paper read:
Some fans picked pockets of victims
Some fans urinated on the brave cops
Some fans beat up PC giving kiss of life.”
Four days after people had lost their loved ones, they saw this. Four days after people had been traumatised in the crush, they saw this. These headlines were lies, smearing the name of our city and people, and despite these lies being proven to be false, until yesterday – 26th April 2016 – people believed these lies.
Growing up on Merseyside, I’ve always been at the heart of the Don’t Buy the S*n campaign and at the heart of a place filled with hope. You always know someone who was at Hillsborough, and for me it’s my dad and granddad. A couple of weeks ago my dad went back to Hillsborough for the first time since the disaster. When he came home, he sat down and he told me about 15th April 1989 in more detail than he ever has before. He remembers fellow Liverpool fans helping one another. He remembers a couple of lads pulling him out of the crush on top of a gate. He remembers seeing fans using the advertising boards from around the pitch as makeshift stretchers. He remembers a group of Liverpool fans telling him to stick with them until he found my granddad so that he was safe. That is why The S*n isn’t even allowed to be mentioned in our house, and that is why I will forever boycott it.
Yesterday was a landmark decision for the families of the 96, for survivors like my dad, for the fans and for the city. The jury found that the deaths of the 96 were the result of institutional failings, not the fault of the fans. The inquest has finally delivered justice to the victims, and for that they are heroes. But can you guess which newspaper was the only one without the Hillsborough verdict on its front page this morning?
They thought that they could lay the blame on our fans and our city. For 27 years the blame lay on the shoulders of our city. It is symbolic of the discrimination that scousers face. But they picked on the wrong city. We did not waver, the families of the 96 never gave up, and the city will never stop fighting for those lost on that fateful day.
You’ll Never Walk Alone.