In April 2010, 21 years after Hillsborough, I wrote a short account about my day, "Hillsborough, Still Hurting After All These Years". It was one of the hardest things I had ever done as I wrote and deleted paragraphs containing some of my more graphic memories.
Nonetheless, writing and publishing an abridged version of what happened to me that day was in many ways therapeutic. Having published it I felt some relief in getting it off my chest (that old cliché) and then came the feedback, feedback from every corner of the world, showing support, understanding and anger at what me and many other went through that day, a day of course resulting in the needless deaths of 96 fellow football fans.
I think that with the coverage of that fateful day over the last week or so that many of the gaps in my account can now be filled by the reader. Some things however are still within me, eating at me, torturing me. I know full well that the feelings of guilt and “whether I could have done more” are futile but that doesn’t prevent them from being there.
I have a haunting image that lives with me day in day and out and has done since 15 April 1989. I had made myself safe, helped many people over the railings into the safety of the side pen, comforted a couple of young lads who were upset and bewildered. But standing there, watching the chaos on the pitch, I could see a young man lying with his back to me not moving. His trousers were down to his knees and he had clearly filled his boxer shorts. I was as sure as you could be from that distance that he was dead, but I wanted to go and cover him, give him some dignity. I didn’t.
In all the mayhem, I still had respect for authority and so when there were announcements asking fans to stay on the terrace I abided by them. I wish to fuck that I hadn’t.
So here we are in September 2012 and the Truth is finally, conclusively out there (again), and now it is time for those responsible for what happened to take the consequences for their criminal acts. The Football Association for allocating the ground, Sheffield Wednesday Football Club operating unlawfully with no safety certificate, the police for their woeful policing on the day and the corruption and cover up that has followed.
The FA and Police Chief Sir Norman Bettison have both showed a total lack of respect and dignity in their press statements this week even after the release of the report. I think the lies and cover up have been repeated that much that the perpetrators’ of the fabrication now have difficulty in working out which version of “The Truth” that they are running with.
Well I have news for them. It is not over and they will face the consequences of their actions. After campaigning for 23 years alongside the families of the 96, the survivors, LFC fans worldwide, the people of Liverpool and possibly every other City & Town on the planet we will not go away. We are here awaiting Justice and if we don’t see it coming we will press on until it arrives.
As for Kelvin MacKenzie and that rag that has the cheek to call itself a newspaper – no apology will ever suffice for the damage you did nor will it ever be accepted. Both should quickly vanish off the face of the earth.
After the publication of the report on Wednesday I felt overwhelmed and an uneasy and strange emptiness. Then the anger came back. This was totally avoidable I knew it then and everyone knows it now.
I don’t think that I’ll ever fully move on from that day. It has affected my life everyday since. Perhaps my wife and family are best placed to describe the changes in me; we are still together unlike many others affected that day. In the same way, I am still here unlike the unfortunate ones who could not live with the burden of surviving. Again a futile thing but not something that can easily by controlled when you are physically and emotionally affected by the events.
Perhaps I’ll quieten down and speak and post less about Hillsborough on Twitter and Facebook, but it is a fact of my life. Moving on from it is not an option as it is a part of me and something that I will continue to live with.
Justice for The 96
My sincere hope now is that everything is put in place to quickly secure new inquests and the families of the 96 can finally lay their loved to rest in peace and that Justice is seen to be done.