Saturday, 8 April 2017

Not Guilty! and The Guilt That Never Goes Away

Not Guilty! and The Guilt That Never Goes Away 

"Get over it." "It's time you moved on."  I wish it was that easy.

For many years I thought it was just me. Feeling guilty for climbing out of Pen 3, physically unscathed, when all around me there was mayhem, injury and death.  

Over time I have met others who survived that hell on 15th April 1989 and I realised it wasn't only me. I've seen my feelings written down more than once, the latest time this very morning, but they were written by others, not by me. People who by a sheer twist of fate found themselves in midst of this carnage caused by the failings of many.

On 26th April 2016 I sat with my wife in the calm of Hillsborough Oaks and listened as the inquest verdicts were announced. I was relieved and emotional that they'd got it right. Us fans were exonerated. We were not guilty. I wish we didn't have to live with the absurd guilt of survival. 

This month is hard and over the next week it will get harder. If you know someone who like me escaped that hell hole please be there for them in which ever way they need. It will be difficult and different for each of us and we cope in our own way. We have done for 28 years. 



Justice for the 96. 
Justice for all.
We Never Walked Alone.


Friday, 7 October 2016

We Judge a Book by its Cover (UP)



I'd like to ask Norman Bettison why he thinks a new book is needed? We know the truth, some us have always known, we were there. We saw the incompetence first hand. We knew the spin started on day one. Go away and and perhaps read the books pictured here. They may help jog your memory. You could save this to your phone - if you have it with you that is. You never seem know that do you? #JFT96



Thursday, 26 May 2016

Hillsborough: An Indelible Change but life goes on....

You know it's coming. You know, or hope, that it's "good". You know it'll change your life, a life that has a thousand and one other things happening in it AND most importantly you know that you're lucky to be living it. 

I tried to close the Hillsborough chapter of my life decades ago. I couldn't. Not only were the lies overflowing but I was here. 95 others who'd done the same as me that day had perished. Another was being kept "alive" until any hope passed and there were 96.  Why the fuck was I here!?

Fast forward 27 years (and a bit).  I've lived my life from 28 years of age. 29 a week and a day later.  We subsequently had two additional children and three grandchildren who exist because I "survived". 

The family and friends of the 96 missed out on their future experiences with their loved ones and the additions that may have ensued due to the fact that they didn't survive. They were unlawfully killed. 

Now I knew that on 15.04.1989. I was there. In with those who never made it. Shoulder to shoulder. Many others did too. Many others who not only lied but forced others to lie too before suppressing the TRUTH they knew. Their fate awaits them. 

I'm not talking about 1989 here. I'm talking about now, this minute. The minute you're reading this which as I write has not yet arrived. 

Exactly a month ago the jury announced their verdict on an inquest that took place over two years into a tragedy that happened 27 years ago.  14 counts to nil it was unlawful killing. (Mentioned earlier but it's worth repeating!) 

I was in the last week of my job, an emotional time by any standards if you cared for the people you worked with, but made massively more emotional by the verdict. I was in bits to be fair.  I fist pumped when they finally said that we, the fans that day, were not to blame. At the risk of repeating myself I and others knew this and had for over 27 years. 

Sitting at Hillsborough Oaks when the verdicts were being delivered, supported by my wife Karen, was the right thing to do; the right place to be.  

Later that night, I think, I went missing apparently although I somehow arrived home. 

Then it was on to the vigil. St George's Hall. Another time filled with emotion and support from friends & family. I guess it was a celebration that finally the world knew the truth and the fans, including those lost, were vindicated.  I struggled despite the close attention of Kate, Sofie, Garry & Wilf. 

Meanwhile I was tired. In my own way I had fought this fight for nearly half of my life. The families were never alone. Those of us who'd been there and experienced the horrors were with them all the way. 

Onto my last day in my job. All neatly handed over - not.  Remember this is now not 27 years ago but I'm hoping that you're getting my drift Hillsborough is my now just as it was then. 

 We had a ball in Ma's before I departed for a She Drew The Gun gig.  I didn't make the end. I was mentally and physically exhausted. I got a taxi home. 

It was the weekend and a new start and a new job beckoned. I was starting on the Tuesday, Monday being bank holiday.  Rather than a new start a new life appeared. Welcome to the world Ollie. 9lb 7oz not 9 6 as I'd predicted!  

My first day at work lasted about 3 minutes. Happy, tired, emotional you name it. I was it!  Fortunately I'd found colleagues as nice as those I'd left behind and certainly an individual who had 'got' me from the interview and understood. 

Moving on. At the weekend we had the 5k for the 96 which followed the magnificent achievement of some very special people in running from Hillsborough to Anfield.  The second run for the 96 was more emotion, time to reflect and enjoy many friendships that would not have happened had 'Hillsborough' not happened. It's a massive indelible part of my everyday life and it always will be. But life doesn't revolve around it, it's just there. I need people to get that. 

You never know when the moment will come that will change your life. You never know when the moment will come that will change your day. For better or for worse. 

This morning at 8:20 I got a text. It simply said "hugs".   







Monday, 2 May 2016

Hillsborough 27 Years Truth & Justice. Still there are disbelievers.....



Somehow, like when these two photographs were taken, I'm suppressing my emotions. No crying - being strong. This was my 29th birthday. St George's day 1989.  8 days earlier I'd climbed out of the Leppings Lane terrace and helped as many others as I could. I'd seen things that are unimaginable. 





My mum & dad were so relieved that I came home as were Karen, Kate, Michelle and my brother Garry but 27 years on, even after the results of the inquest, there are still people spouting shit and trying to lay blame on us survivors and the 96 who perished. 

I'd ask them to look beyond the smiles in these photographs and look into my eyes. There's so much hidden behind those blackened eyes (not through injury I hasten to add) but trying to come to terms with that day. 

The Taylor Report got it right. The Hillsborough Documentary, 20 years ago, got it right.  The recently concluded inquests and those amazing jurors who gave service for two years got it right. 

The South Yorkshire Police got it badly wrong that day. Sheffield Wednesday had been getting it wrong for years totally disregarding the safety of fans - this disaster could have happened years earlier and on more than one occasion. 

The FA even after LFC's brilliant club secretary Peter Robinson had warned them that they were making a mistake got it wrong. 

Then the media, who were present on the day and witnessed what actually happened, got it wrong in varying degrees. Fuelled by lies being concocted whilst I was still trying to help fellow supporters out of the crush they published those lies. Most famously The Scum but I can also remember a column by some old fart in the Daily Mail lambasting the Liverpool fans for causing the disaster. 

Then of course we come to Thatcher and the establishment. They thought they'd gotten it very right. They thought they were bigger and stronger than the city I was born in. They thought that they could walk all over the families by covering up the truth, hiding away the evidence and trying to turn the nation on THAT city that wouldn't let it go. Piss off and grieve and move on. How wrong could they get it. How wrong are some still getting it? 

The City of Liverpool - we got it right. Truth and Justice for the 96 IS RIGHT. That me and my fellow supporters were victims of gross incompetence and then evil lies IS RIGHT. 

JUSTICE FOR ALL   YOU'LL NEVER WALK ALONE




Friday, 22 April 2016

Dignity and Self Respect - Justice for the 96




It's been 27 years. 27 long years in which the families of those who died at Hillsborough have carried themselves with the utmost dignity and self respect. They have fought long and hard, had highs but mostly lows. Still, with dignity and self respect, they carried on their fight.





So with the verdict from the inquests into the deaths of their loved ones imminent can I plead with everyone to act with dignity and show self respect at this time for them.

It seems that some people think that the inquests are a sideshow - nothing could be further from the truth. The majority of people understand this and offer support and encouragement to the families but others it seems are being insensitive to say the least.

Please be mindful that this really is a stressful, sensitive and very personal time for the families and whilst we won't let them walk alone we give them the space they need.   #JFT96 #YNWA





Thursday, 14 April 2016

Hillsborough 27 years - An Audience of Souls Awaiting Justice


Those of you who know me will know that music features prominently in my daily life.  Sometimes a song that I've heard many times may assume a special meaning to me in relation to an event, a time, a place or a person. 

There are a few that connect with me in relation to Hillsborough some because they were produced to support the fight for justice or or some simply to remember...

Ferry Across the Mersey (Still in its Woolworth carrier bag - unplayed - too soon, too raw), Fields of Anfield Road, He ain't Heavy, (Scouser's) Never Buy The Sun, Liar, Liar, 96th Son and The Angel make up a part of that list. 

At the time of the disaster a song totally unconnected but one that I cannot separate from the other is Eternal Flame by The Bangles which just happened to be the UK number one single for three weeks in April 1989.  

More recently, sitting listening to music I was listening to Emily Smith, a Scottish folk singer and her song Audience of Souls came on. I've listened to this song many times but this morning thinking about the inquests nearing their conclusion the words had a new meaning and brought tears to my eyes...

"Audience of souls I’ll sit here before you
And I’ll sing to you a song
Sing to you a song

Absent of words, I’ll learn from the birds
And I’ll sing to you a song
Sing to you a song

Lend to me your ear for I know you have the time
And I’ll tell you some news
Tell you some news

Been away too long your friends have moved on
So I’ll tell you some news
Tell you some news...."

At the time of writing the jury are still deliberating. On 15 April 2016 we will have been waiting 27 years for "some news" but the news is coming.  Let's hope they get it right for the 96, for their families and friends, for the survivors and so that in the future the "establishment" think twice before attempting to hoodwink a nation.  


     St George's Hall 12th September 2012 "Truth day"

They almost succeeded this time but forgot who they were dealing with. The City of Liverpool, its people and their friends from all corners of world are an immovable force. We never forget. 




April the 15th 1989 was a sunny day. A day that should have been filled with joy for all who attended that football match. That it wasn't was not due to the fans. I know, I was there. It was however an accident waiting to happen and if that's the case then people are culpable. I'll leave that there.

There is an audience of souls awaiting some news and the only news that they need is that of JUSTICE. 


You can listen to Audience of Souls by Emily Smith here: - http://youtu.be/ttzox7mqkOg 

Audience of souls I’ll sit here before you
And I’ll sing to you a song
Sing to you a song

Absent of words, I’ll learn from the birds
And I’ll sing to you a song
Sing to you a song

Lend to me your ear for I know you have the time
And I’ll tell you some news
Tell you some news

Been away too long your friends have moved on
So I’ll tell you some news
Tell you some news

You can’t shake my hand or look me in the eye
But you’re glad that I came
Glad that I came

You can’t see my face or my name place
But you’re glad that I came
Glad that I came
So glad that I came
You’re glad that I came

Warmth from the sun it colours my skin
Means nothing to you
Nothing to you

You’re sheltered from pain, touched only by the rain
Means nothing to you
Nothing to you

Offerings we leave, what are they worth?
Do they mean much to you?
Mean much to you?

The comfort that it gives to the heart of a friend
Does it mean much to you?
Mean much to you?

From wisdom that you’ve gained
What advice would you give me?
And what would you change?
What would you change?

If you had your life again would you live it the same?
Tell me what would you change?
What would you change?
If you had your life again
Would you live it the same?
Tell me what would remain?
And what would you change?

Audience of souls I’ll sit here before you
And I’ll sing to you a song
Sing to you a song

Wednesday, 6 April 2016

#JFT96

On the 15th April 1989 I was 28 years old, coming up to 29. I'm now 55 approaching 56. 

Twenty seven years is too long to live with guilt, albeit a guilt that I and thousands of other survivors shouldn't have been burdened with for 27 days never mind 27 years.  Yet we were the lucky ones - we came home.

Today we should be moving on toward a verdict that mirrors the events of that fateful day, a correct verdict, a TRUTHFUL VERDICT. 


My thoughts at this time are firstly with the 96 fellow supporters who, like me, simply went to watch a football match but never came home. Then of course it's the families and friends of those lost that day, many of whom have become friends over the years. 

We must remember however that some of those there who survived the day had their lives affected in such a massive way that they are no longer with us.  Family members and the family life of survivors have been affected by how their loved ones, who witnessed the events of the day, have changed as a result. 

Let's not forget that the jurors have had two years of their lives affected by this landmark case and I'm certain it won't have been easy for them. Hopefully they can work together to arrive at the correct conclusion. 

#JFT96