The day of the Hillsborough tragedy is one that not many people will forget, no matter which football club you support.
I was at Highbury on 15 April 1989, busy watching Newcastle lose yet another game (1-0, Brian Marwood scored) on the way to relegation.
Hard for younger people to understand but in those pre-mobile phone days, you were pretty much ignorant of anything that was happening elsewhere, unless there were public announcements over the tannoy.
The only exception being that there was always people dotted about with transistor radios, checking up what was happening at other games.
On the terraces at Highbury, somebody had a radio nearby and during the first half, he said that there had been ‘trouble’ at Hillsborough and the FA Cup semi-final game had been stopped between Liverpool and Nottingham Forest.
With the climate at the time you assumed fighting between fans but transistor man updated us regularly and clearly this wasn’t the case on this occasion.
As Arsenal v Newcastle progressed, we were fed more and more updates third hand – first it was people had been injured, then it was reported there had even been some people who had died, it sounded unbelievable.
That then became possibly dozens of supporters had died, something which you could only assume had to be a massive exaggeration.
Obviously it turned out to be anything but – with the eventual reality far worse than those initial reports.
Today, the family and friends of the 96 who died have been vindicated for their campaigning, with the Hillsborough jury finding that all of those 96 football fans had been unlawfully killed.
What is more, the jury has also ruled that there was no behaviour by football supporters that caused or contributed to the disaster.
The Crown Prosecution Service has now confirmed it will begin the process of formally considering criminal charges for those to be held accountable for what happened.
An extract from a moving article by the Liverpool Echo today:
‘Twenty seven years. That was a lifetime or more for the majority of those who needlessly died on the Hillsborough terraces – 71 of the 96 victims were aged between 10 and 27.
Twenty seven years. A period of time in which so many family members have died, while still seeking the truth and still seeking justice.
Twenty seven years of pain and heartbreak.
Twenty seven years of fighting and frustration.
Twenty seven years of waiting, hoping and praying – for a day like this.
Thank God it’s finally arrived.
At long last.
At long bloody last.’