Tuesday, 18 October 2011

Victory for Hillsborough victims....at last

A slightly different entry today as I celebrate the verdict of the Government to ensure the release of all files and details of the horrific Hillsborough tragedy which occurred twenty two years ago.
Ninety-six unsuspecting football fan's died, 766 were injured. A human tradegy didn't really sum up the scale of the disaster.

All the injured and dead were Liverpool fan's, something which rocked the City and the whole Country, and still to this day, the families of the deceased and the injured still seek the answers they feel they are entitled to.

The Hillsborough disaster was and still is the deadliest stadium tradegy in British history, and one of the worst in International football, coming just four years after the infamous Heysel accident, also involving Liverpool.
Heysel though was a completely different set of circumstances and it has been proved that at a time of football hooliganism, Liverpool fan's were at fault for the Belgian incident.

This time however they were most certainly not, and although the authorities pointed the finger at the fan's of England's most decorated club, there were so many differing statements that this will cease to be the case.
The ground of Sheffield Wednesday was being used for the F.A Cup semi final between Liverpool and their rival's Nottingham Forest, the game was abandoned after just six minutes due to the severity of the happenings in the Leppings Lane end of the ground.

The stall wart sport programme of the time, Grandstand, cut to live pictures as the bedlam ensued, showing harrowing images of the human crush. The country watched as football fan's, just going to watch their team in a showpiece semi-final, clambering over anything and anyone to sustain their life.

As the happenings unfolded, supporters were seen ferrying their fellow supporters on advertising boards being used as makeshift stretchers, up to but not beyond a line of police which had been assembled along the half way line to stop Liverpool supporters from getting to the Nottingham Forest fan's at the other end of the ground. This was clearly not the case as people of all ages died amidst, in my opinion, severe police negligence at the dealing of the situation.

The facts are staggering, ninety-four people died on the day. People of ages ranging between ten and sixty seven. Seven hundred and sixty six more people were injured, of which three hundred were hospitalised.
Four day's on the toll rose another one victim, a 14 year old boy, attached to a life support machine, gave up the fight and the total stood at ninety five dead.
It was nearly four years after the fact that the death toll reached its final number as twenty two year old Tony Bland was taken off of life support after showing no sign of improvement and remained in a vegetative state.
Seventy nine of the victims were aged thirty or younger, the youngest of the victims was ten year old Jon-Paul Gilhooley, the cousin of Liverpool's current captain Steven Gerrard.

Out of forty four ambulances that were in attendance that day, only one was let in to care for the injured and dying.
Accusations were quick to emerge, in the era of football hooliganism the English tabloid The Sun was first to brandish generalisations of the fan's that had been in attendance, nearly all of which has since been proved to be un-found. This publication of false information still berates Liverpudlians and many of which still boycott the purchasing of the paper to this day, and will do for a long time to come.
Following the tradegy an inquest now widely known as the Lord Taylor enquiry was published. This was a more in depth look into the factors that contributed to the deaths and injuries of so many innocent people.
This report dismissed many of the conspiracies surrounding police accounts of the day, contradicting stories and reports were put to bed by the ground-breaking Lord Taylor.

As a direct product of the enquiry, the fences and stadium security measures were scrutinised and in lew of this the fences were torn down and standing terraces were no longer standard in England.

The Coroner Dr Stefan Popper, had declared that all victims were dead or brain dead by 3.15 p.m on the day of the match, just nine minutes after the game had been abandoned.
One of the victims mother's, Anne Williams, who's son, via witness statements was still showing signs of life at 4.00 p.m the same day was angered at the coroner's decision, which was clearly a flawed decision by the professional commissioned with the dealing of the bodies. Her case against the 'cut-off' signalled by Dr Popper was rejected in 2009.

The on-going fight for the truth and answers rages on, twenty-two years after the fact. Yesterday the case for the files to be released as public information was heard in the House of Commons after an e-petition in favour of this rose 139,000 signatures.
The unanimous decision was upheld by the entire room and the files will get to see the light of day, and the families of all the victims will finally get some answers, whether they are the answers they are hoping for, time will only tell.

All the families want is the truth, and if people are held responsible then so be it, but this is not why they have pushed for the information to be released. They just want answers, the true answers....and who can blame them....

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