Hillsborough remembered - One fans account

Hillsborough remembrance and related information

Postby Dalglish » Tue Apr 15, 2008 12:17 am

Its been years since I have publicly spoken of the Hillsborough tragedy and it’s difficult for me but nothing compares to the difficulties that the families of those that lost loved ones go through each and every day and if by doing this I help those families receive justice then it’s been worthwhile so here is my personal account of Hillsborough...........

I awoke on April 15th 1989 in an excited and happy frame of mind. Why shouldn't I be...... I was 23 years old and my beloved Liverpool were in the Semi-Finals of the FA CUP, the most famous cup competition in club football and I had a ticket to the game. It was to be played at Hillsborough in Sheffield. The kick off was 3PM and my friends Col and Mark had arranged to meet up and travel over in my car. I wasn’t originally down to attend the game but Mark’s brother had broken his leg in a football game a few weeks earlier and was unable to go.

The journey over to Sheffield was largely uneventful, we chatted in the car on the journey and were obviously excited about the game. We arrived near the ground around 1.15Pm and parked up. I can remember us having a kick about in the car park before making our way down to the ground.

We walked the mile or so to the ground and entered at around 1.45pm and my first impressions of the ground were that it was typical of grounds around that time. Hillsborough was built about 100 years earlier but little in the way of structural changes had been made.

We entered the ground and the now infamous Pen’s 3 and 4 through a small tunnel about 8 ft high and 20 ft long .It was an all standing area immediately behind the Goals. Each pen was separated to the side by a 5ft railing and at the front by an imposing 7 ft fence which had spikes on the top to prevent fans getting onto the pitch. We were standing centrally in the pen and singing, laughing, chatting to other fans just doing stuff you normally do before a game. The atmosphere was electric and the noise almost deafening at times and it felt good to be there supporting your team and hoping for a victory.

As the hour passed and the kick off approached the pen filled up to capacity and at full 15 mins before the game was due to start was completely full to overflowing. To be honest I didn’t worry as on the KOP at homes games as many as 26,000 fans would stand in one large terraced area and over crowding was common.

What we couldn’t possibly be aware of however was what was occurring outside the ground at this time as thousands of fans started to arrive for the game and attempting to gain access to the ground.  Such was the volume of fans wanting to gain access to the ground that a crush was developing outside the ground and the situation was potentially life threatening. It was as a result of this that the police gave the order to open a large access gate and allow the large crowd outside, entry into the ground. Directly in the line of view of this large gate was the tunnel leading into the two pens we were in. The subsequent Inquiry would reveal that this tunnel was normally manned by stewards and when full, fans wishing to gain access to the ground were redirected to the side entrances and crucially AWAY from these pens. However this tunnel entrance, one way in and only one way out was unmanned and was the first thing the vast majority of fans saw as the outside gates were opened.

I can remember everyone cheering as the two teams came out onto the pitch but I couldn't see much and was too concerned about what was happening around me. The noise of the crowd and the start of the game add to your sense of excitement but I was becoming increasingly concerned at the lack of space and the force of people around me. I could hear shouting and obscenities as people jostled for position and a better view. I turned to Mark and voiced my concerns “Mark, its too full, I’ve got to get out”, my voice panicky. Mark reassured me and commented it had been like this the year before.  I felt stupid at my over reaction and obvious panic but I couldn’t ignore the feeling of pressure on my body and the sense of being trapped.

I could hear people shouting out in what appeared to be a mixture of pain and anger. You’d hear a scream or a desperate shout then it would disappear......... We didn’t know at the time but it was obvious we were hearing the last cries and words of fans as they literally were dying standing up.

It was then that I did what with hindsight was not the smartest decision I've ever made, but I was struggling to breathe and needed space. I selfishly thought I'd have a bit more room. I therefore crouched down thinking I’d have a little more room to maneuvere and a bit more oxygen. I tried to cover my ribs as the force against them began to squeeze my lungs. This simply made a difficult situation worse and I can distinctly remember Mark shouting down to me “What you doing”. “I can’t breathe Mark, we have got to get out “. It was at this point he reached down and pulled me up. He’s always played this part of the day down but I’m sure in my own mind that what he did in that moment saved my life and it was this small single event that brought home the seriousness of our situation. We all seemed to say in unison “We have to get out NOW”, but with no room to move and nowhere to go it seemed a futile situation.

I can’t remember if I asked for anyone’s help, I can’t remember even thinking about anything other than escape at that point which seems strange because you kind of think about what you would do in a life threatening situation but often you fail to do even the most basic things when your afraid and under stress.

I never saw the game kick-off. There were too many people in front. There was a young lad on the perimeter fence who said 'Beardsley's hit the bar.' You heard a groan from the crowd followed by a tangible and ultimately deathly surge from behind into an already crushed group of people. It was now open panic and desperation as people were having the very life squeezed from them.

There were people who had managed to scale the fence at the front and were now standing on the fence trying to pull people up. But the fence was so high it was difficult.......too difficult !
You could also see press photographers on the other side of the fence taking pictures close up of the scene and listening to fans scream in desperation for them to do something. What possesses a human being to photograph other human beings in the last moments of their lives when they could have done something to alert the police to what was really happening is beyond comprehension and something I’ve struggled to come up with an answer to since that day. Also watching as Stewards and police, mistakenly believing that fans were scaling the fence to invade the pitch only to throw those fans back into the crush was something that is extremely hard to come to terms with.....................

It was the strangest, surreal feeling of being in the open air, underneath a perfectly blue sky but not being able to breathe. Choking in the open air. It seemed that a foot above everyone's head there was this layer of hot stale air, no fresh air, no breeze, like an invisible roof above your head. I tried stretching my head upwards to try and find fresher cool air.

We were slightly off centre to the right and I’m not completely sure how to this day but found ourselves edging ever closer to the side fence. People were being pulled up and over the fence and we waited praying for the people in front of us to hurry up until it was our turn to be lifted over. We helped those in front of us by lifting them up and over before being rescued ourselves. Other fans quickly asked if we were alright and we nodded to which they then were away to tend to more urgent cases. People, who had been lifted over but weren’t breathing, white faced and motionless. The guy who came over that fence to freedom after me was in a bad way, he was in shock and unable to walk. I instinctively placed an arm under his body and with another stranger carried him to where he could get some first aid.

We then stepped out onto the pitch and the sense of freedom and release was monumental. The soft feel of the manicured pitch, the cool breeze on our faces. I’ve never been in prison but I can understand that sense of release that prisoners must feel as they take the first step back into society. It felt indeed like we had been saved.

The pitch resembled a battlefield as bodies lay dead and dying around us, people who were injured wandered around dazed and confused. Fans sought to save lives. Apart from pleading with the police to recognize the seriousness of the situation they tore down advertising hoardings to act as makeshift stretchers and ferried fans to the far end of the  pitch in the hope they could receive treatment. Although ill equipped and untrained in first aid many fans attempted to resuscitate the casualties themselves in the absence of professional assistance. Mark, Colin and I had got out of the crush at approximately 3.20. The subsequent inquiry would reveal that the victims all perished between 3pm and 3.15pm so there was little we could have done in any event but one of my most vivid memories of that day was sitting on the perimeter of the pitch and praying to God that people had not died.

Tragedy is difficult to accept when it’s a natural disaster like an earthquake but when you consider that this was an entirely preventable tragedy it makes it harder to accept the appalling loss of life and the events of that day.

For me the events of that day were to have a profound effect on my life. I didn’t attend a football match for a further 4 years due to a mixture of indifference to football and a fear of crowds. On a more positive note it’s helped me appreciate life for all that it consists of and particularly since the birth of my son the importance of living each day to the full. I struggled with guilt at surviving when so many who were so much younger then myself did not but with the support of family and friends I’ve used this second chance to try and make a difference in my life and continue to honour those that perished by informing those who know little about the tragedy what really took place that day……. 

Tragedy and injustice are the keywords that sum up the Hillsborough Disaster.

1. The average payout for Policemen who were in attendance that day and subsequently retired through ill health caused by what they witnessed was in the region of £300,000. The Payout to the families of victims for their loss and suffering was £3,000.....

2. There was a tactical response emergency unit based very close to the stadium and it was called shortly after 3 PM on April 15th 1989, however Sheffield Wednesday had made structural changes to the stadium entrance but had failed to inform the authorities. When the tactical response unit arrived they were unable to gain access to the ground and had to turn away. That unit contained heavy duty wire cutters, defibulators and a plethora of life saving equipment.

3. Inspector Duckinfield was put in overall charge of the Game that day and it was his direct order to open a large door on the outside of the stadium that ultimately caused the already overcrowded pens 3 and 4 to be accessed via a small tunnel. It was also his responsibility to delay the kick off if he felt there was a safety issue. This was Inspector Duckinfield's FIRST EVER GAME in charge of policing a football match !

Indictments on the Police, the Football Club and the Courts that shamed us on that day ....... and people wonder why we are still fighting for JUSTICE.....

The S** Newspaper printed headlines accusing fellow fans of pick pocketing the victims and urinating on the dead and they KNEW they were lying at the time yet took 14 years to apologize for it and only then because they bought exclusive rights to Wayne Rooney’s story and wanted to increase circulation on Merseyside , where’s the morality in that? 

Lord Justice Taylor in his inquiry found the South Yorkshire Police culpable and largely to blame for the tragedy but not a single policeman has been convicted of any offence, where is the Justice  in that?

Of the 96 victims 89 were male and 7 were female. In respect of age the vast majority were under 30 and a third under 20 years of age. The youngest to die was a 10 year old boy. The most deaths to occur were in our pen, pen 3 and 45 died in the tunnel we had walked through. A further 730 people were injured inside the ground but survived to tell their stories........... this is one such story.   

And they wonder why we are still fighting for justice!!!!!!

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Postby Bad Bob » Tue Apr 15, 2008 2:54 am

Grim but essential reading, Ian.  A sobering account of one of the blackest marks ever to tarnish the beautiful game. made all the more heart-wrenching, as you've said, by the sheer preventability of it all.  Thanks for sharing your story, mate.

Justice for the 96
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Postby anfieldadorer » Tue Apr 15, 2008 6:52 am

Justice and peace for the 96
Gone but never forgotten

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Postby andy_g » Wed Apr 16, 2008 9:58 am

thankyou for sharing that with us, ian. i'm reading so many personal accounts and press reviews (the ones that speak the truth) this morning and its hurting like crazy. we can't forget this tragedy ever, as long as we carry on living.

RIP the 96

Get up! everybody's gonna move their feet
Get Down! everybody's gonna leave their seat
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Postby Woollyback » Wed Apr 16, 2008 3:12 pm

thanks for sharing that ian, must be very hard for you to have to relive it all over again in your mind to be able to put all that down in writing on here for us
b*ll*c*ks and s*i*e
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Postby NANNY RED » Wed Apr 16, 2008 10:00 pm

Dalglish wrote:It was the strangest, surreal feeling of being in the open air, underneath a perfectly blue sky but not being able to breathe. Choking in the open air. It seemed that a foot above everyone's head there was this layer of hot stale air, no fresh air, no breeze, like an invisible roof above your head. I tried stretching my head upwards to try and find fresher cool air.

We then stepped out onto the pitch and the sense of freedom and release was monumental. The soft feel of the manicured pitch, the cool breeze on our faces. I’ve never been in prison but I can understand that sense of release that prisoners must feel as they take the first step back into society. It felt indeed like we had been saved.

Dalglish them words in them 2 paragraphs were exacly how i felt mate
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Postby Lando_Griffin » Sat Apr 19, 2008 12:59 pm

The 96 and their families should never be forgotten or ignored.

A very personal account there, Ian.

RIP and justice for the 96. :(

Rafa Benitez - An unfinished Legend.
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Postby Kharhaz » Mon May 05, 2008 2:35 am

I wanted to add a reply but I cannot because the moment this speach ends its goes to a blank page. Can we sort this?
Bill Shankly: “I was the best manager in Britain because I was never devious or cheated anyone. I’d break my wife’s legs if I played against her, but I’d never cheat her.”
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Postby Judge » Fri May 23, 2008 3:43 pm

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Postby zarababe » Sat Apr 11, 2009 12:32 pm

Cryin here .. MOTD today dedicated to Hillsborough.. It feels like yesterday and the tears still flow.. RIP Liverpool Football Club's very own - NEVER FORGOTTEN .. ALWAYS WITH US !



Miss YOU Phil-Drummer - RIP YNWA


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