Hillsborough, 25 Years On: Exposure Keeps Growing and Justice Is Coming

Karl MatchettFeatured ColumnistApril 15, 2014

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - APRIL 15:  Liverpool fans sing 'You'll Never Walk Alone' during the Hillsborough memorial service marking the 25th anniversary of the Hillsborough Disaster at Anfield stadium on April 15, 2014 in Liverpool, England. Thousands of fans, friends and relatives took part in the service at Liverpool's Anfield stadium to mark the 25th anniversary of the Hillsborough disaster. Bells across the City of Liverpool rung during a one minute silence. A total of 96 Liverpool supporters lost their lives during a crush at an FA Cup semi final against Nottingham Forest at the Hillsborough football ground in Sheffield, South Yorkshire in 1989.  (Photo by Christopher Furlong/Getty Images)
Christopher Furlong/Getty Images

The events of April 15, 1989, are firmly and indelibly etched in the minds of anybody and everybody associated with Liverpool Football Club.

Even those—players, young supporters, families, new managers—who had no particular connection with the club at the time of the Hillsborough disaster are well aware of the circumstances surrounding that day, the 96 people who died and the ongoing fight for justice from the families of those who died.

It has been a long, bitter and—for far too many years—fruitless struggle for those involved in the search for truth and accountability from those involved, but, finally, slowly, the past couple of anniversaries have come with hope.

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - APRIL 15:  Liverpool supporters attend the memorial service marking the 25th anniversary of the Hillsborough Disaster at Anfield stadium on April 15, 2014 in Liverpool, England. Thousands of fans, friends and relatives took part in th
Christopher Furlong/Getty Images

Hope that not only will the ignorant be educated, the scornful put to shame and the lessons of the past learnt, but also that those who were in the wrong and then later, awfully, tried so hard to cover up their errors would face justice.

Year on year, the appeals, the chants and the calls for justice would continue, but only relatively recently (compared to the 25 years since the disaster occurred) have those in power been seen to do anything of note about it.

Now, a quarter of a century after Hillsborough happened, the families and the club itself continue to move toward finding out the whole truth, and thus finding peace, when, in the end, those at fault are brought to justice.

And it seems now that it will happen.

Time is the great healer, but time also brings something else: progression.

In this instance, progression of technology and the advent of social media. Take Hillsborough; if the new enquiry had occurred 10 years ago—still over a decade too late, of course—would there be widespread coverage of it? Would tens of thousands of fans in dozens of countries all over the world unite in spreading the same message of seeking the answers which have evaded the families for so long?

Would the Prime Minister's speech, his apology to the families for their double injustice, have resonated so widely across the footballing world?

Would clubs from all reaches of the game show such solidarity, which, crucially, could be seen by everybody even if they were not even remotely connected to the country the club played in?

25 years have passed since the Hillsborough tragedy. @FCBarcelona remembers the 96 @LFC supporters died #YNWA pic.twitter.com/PObDGjkWPp

FC Barcelona (@FCBarcelona) April 15, 2014

#MerseysideUnited pic.twitter.com/VRifA4EPSd

Everton (@Everton) April 15, 2014

We will always remember them, we will #neverforget #jft96 #hillsborough pic.twitter.com/FJTvnAaHOG

— Sheffield FC (@Sheffieldfc) April 15, 2014

Gone but not Forgotten 21+96 @LFC Always remembered, always loved. #YNWA #Liverpool #Olympiacos #Together pic.twitter.com/c5YGtyfArx

— Olympiacos FC (@olympiacos_org) April 15, 2014

L'@OfficialASRoma è vicina alle famiglie dei 96 tifosi del @LFC che persero la vita a Hillsborough il 15 aprile del 1989 #NeverForgotten

AS Roma (@OfficialASRoma) April 15, 2014

Ajax supporters did not forget Hillsborough today. pic.twitter.com/owLQMw6RX9

— mephobia (@mephobia8) April 12, 2014

Olivier Giroud celebrated his goal by kissing the HIllsborough armband and pointing upward. (via @TSBible) pic.twitter.com/6ugz6d8O5h

— Bleacher Report UK (@br_uk) April 15, 2014

Unlikely.

But of course, perhaps that's the point as well; it wouldn't have happened then in part because there was not enough of a single, demanding voice which could not be stopped, silenced, ignored.

Now, though, we all see, we all read, we all know.

There is no hiding place left, there is no opportunity to bury heads in the ground and wait for the storm to pass.

The exposure given to the Hillsborough memorial service at Anfield, the coverage from mainstream media interviewing former players, people who were at the semi-final match in '89, people who lost family membersall of it continues to increase, year on year.

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - APRIL 15:  Scarves donated by fans of Liverpool and teams across the world are placed on empty seats during the memorial service marking the 25th anniversary of the Hillsborough Disaster, at Anfield stadium on April 15, 2014 in Liverp
Christopher Furlong/Getty Images

It's not because it's a topical news item—though it is one, clearly—nor because of a lack of other news.

It's because the outrage is the same from every corner: This has gone on too long.

But no longer for an unspecified amount of time. No longer is there no end in sight. The investigations continue, more names are called to question, and more uncomfortable, fabricated or forgotten answers are demanded.

The exposure keeps growing, and there is no place to hide.

Justice is coming for the 96 and their families.