The Hidden Damage Of Heysel and Hillsborough Finally Being Laid To Rest?

Barney Corkhill@@BarneyCorkhillSenior Writer INovember 24, 2008

May 29th, 1985 and April 15th, 1989 will be dates forever etched in the minds of football fans, particularly those of Liverpool Football Club.

It was on these dates that two of the biggest disasters in football history occurred.

The first came in Brussels, as Liverpool were taking on Juventus in the European Cup final. Heysel Stadium was an old, dilapidated ground which was not fit to hold a game of such magnitude.

But blaming the stadium for what happened that night is clutching at straws. Yes, it didn't stand up to the test, but it should have never been tested in the way it was.

As Liverpool fans broke through a fence separating them from the Juventus fans, the resulting act of hooliganism cost 39 innocent people their lives. As the Liverpool fans charged, the Juventus fans retreated, until they were all being squashed against a wall.

Under the weight of all those people, the wall gave way.

Thirty-two Juventus fans, four Belgians, two Frenchmen and one Irishman were killed. The events off the field completely overshadowed the events on the field, and very few people actually know, or care what the score was. Juventus' 1-0 win was irrelevant.

In the aftermath of this tragedy, Liverpool manager Joe Fagan resigned, after a hugely promising start in which he looked like going on to emulate the feats of his predecessors Bill Shankly and Bob Paisley.

A historic treble in his first ever season as Liverpool manager showcased this for everyone to see.

English teams were also given a ban from European competition, something that set England behind the rest of Europe, and something they have only recently fully recovered from.

Ready-made Liverpool legend Kenny Dalglish took over from Fagan as player-manager. He had a hugely successful first season as well, guiding Liverpool to their first ever double (League and FA Cup), after scoring the goal to secure the title for the Reds, and helping Liverpool beat Everton in the FA Cup final.

More trophies followed until disaster would strike the mersyside club once again in April of 1989.

In an FA Cup semi-final between Liverpool and Nottingham Forest, too many Liverpool fans were allowed to flood into the stadium.

As more and more walked in, those at the front started to get crushed.

In the end, 96 Liverpool fans died, making it the worst stadium disaster in British history. Dalglish tried to stick it out, and received much praise for his behaviour in the aftermath of this tragedy. He even managed to juggle all the trouble off the pitch and his team's performances on it, as he led Liverpool to the FA Cup final, winning it.

But, in the end, it got too much for him and, although the official reason was because of his health, it is widely regarded that the aftermath of Hillsborough became just too much for him to take.

Ronnie Moran took over as caretaker manager before another former player, Graeme Souness, was appointed.

Things rapidly went downhill, and Liverpool, once a dominant, all-conquering team, were now also-rans in the league.

Now with the Rafa revolution well underway, it seems that the hidden damage done by the two tragedies, which led to the departure of two potentially great managers, may finally be healing. Liverpool may once again be on their way to becoming a great team.

The disasters ended Liverpool's era of domination, which they are yet to regain. But, after such a promising start to the season, and continued good runs in Europe, could the Liver Bird be rising from the eternal flames of Hillsborough.


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