20 years on, I am still haunted by the events of April 15, 1989, at Sheffield’s Hillsborough Stadium. Haunted at seeing the death of 96 fellow football fans, agitated to this day that as an innocent 15 year old, my first concern was actually as to when the FA Cup Semi-Final between Liverpool and Nottingham Forest would recommence.
For many, the passion with which we follow our teams—in any sport—is the catalyst for our moods and our cherished memories. Whilst writing has necessitated an objective, less biased and often critical viewpoint, I confess to being no different.
Whilst thoughts of Istanbul, and a worn out DVD will always be testament to a never to be forgotten night, reflections will often lead me to Sheffield and a day which can NOT be forgotten.
It is not my place to argue the rights and wrongs of that day; that would test my objectivity beyond its capability. I was not stood in the Leppings Lane terrace on that fateful day but watching and listening on, horrified from afar, taken to Anfield for the Quarter-Final against Brentford but unable to even think of getting a ticket for a Semi-Final. However, that afternoon are with me now and always will be.
This short piece is not meant to describe the events of that afternoon as those memories, if that is how they can be described, are locked away for private contemplation. Neither is it my place, for reasons stated above, to allocate blame for what happened at Hillsborough.
Whilst so many on Merseyside campaign for Justice for the 96, it is not for the purpose of allocating blame but simply to know why 96 Liverpool fans never returned from Sheffield on that day.
Simply, there has never been a satisfactory verdict and until there is, nobody involved will cease their quest for vindication and the families will be unable to move forward with their lives.
This is not to say that if a conclusion is ever drawn, that those who lost their lives will be forgotten, but at least there will be closure. When I hear the famous anthem, "You’ll Never Walk Alone," my mind will often wonder back to Istanbul in 2005.
However, my mind will also ask how many of the 96 would have been there if not for Hillsborough. Essentially, through the most wonderful moments that this wonderful game and club have provided, there is always reminiscence of that awful tragedy.
This is something with which I shall always live, and whilst I pray for closure for those families involved, it will never be forgotten. Neither those who died, nor their families will ever walk alone but they deserve the poignancy and respect that tomorrow’s anniversary will offer them.
As a footnote to this article, may I take the opportunity to thank Liverpool and Chelsea for the fabulous tie played out at Stamford Bridge this evening. It showed everything good about football and was a fitting tribute to those 96 who lost their lives 20 years ago.
00:01; Wednesday 15 April, 2009