I remember exactly where I was when it happened. I was in New York, on my first visit to the city. We saw the horrifying news on the Times Square news ticker – big flashing lights talking about a disaster at a football ground in England. The victims were Liverpool supporters, which made everything feel more personal to me – I used to live in Liverpool and I’d been a Liverpool supporter since I was little. We suddenly felt like we were a long way from home, needing to find out more. There was no internet to get information and the hostel we were staying at had no TV. We read about it in the New York Times the next day:
At least 93 people were killed [the final death toll was 96] and more than 180 others were injured today when soccer fans surged forward in severely overcrowded stands at a match in the northern English city of Sheffield, according to police and hospital officials.
The victims were crushed and suffocated as hundreds of spectators stumbled down the overcrowded standing area at the Hillsborough Stadium.
The tragedy occurred shortly after the start of a Football Association cup tournament game between the Liverpool and Nottingham Forest teams. The police ordered the soccer match to be stopped after six minutes of play, and the game was abandoned altogether about an hour later.
The tragedy is the worst in the history of British soccer.
What makes this tragedy so much worse is the fact that so many lies were told afterwards about the causes of the disaster and blame was laid on the victims themselves. The relatives and friends of the victims are still having to fight for justice, a quarter of a century later.
Links: Hillsborough Jimmy McGovern’s 1996 drama-documentary powerfully reconstructs the events of the disaster and the aftermath.