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Discussion Starter #1
I really hope this cut and paste works as this account really tells it like it was and we should never forget.

I’ll never forget that calm spring morning in Anfield road. Strips of sunlight squeezed through the Shankly gates, evaporating the last
drops of dew as they ran down the
wrought iron on the great man’s shrine. We stood with our backs leaned against the wall of the Anfield Road terrace, talking quietly at
first, but becoming more boisterous as all fourteen of us gradually arrived from different parts of the city.
Each arrival was greeted with mocking banter as the mood became as radiant as the early season sunshine, which by this time had
spread across the road, lighting up two large Victorian sandstone gate posts, situated opposite the Shankly gates.

I remember instinctively turning round when I heard the rustling of leaves accompanied by an unfamiliar bird-call, a kind of chirpy rattle.
Back in 1989, Magpies didn’t venture into towns and cities as frequently as they do today. You very rarely saw one, which made this
particular sighting all the more vivid.
I looked up. The branch on which the bird had been perched was still shaking slightly, but was empty. I turned back to towards my
friends. “Where’s yer mate?” Alan said, his eyes looking directly over my shoulder. I turned again and there it was, a solitary magpie
staring across at us from one of the gateposts. “I hope that’s not a sign of things to come” said a solemn faced Alan, relating to the
‘one for sorrow’ wive’s tale which usually accompanies the sighting of one of these birds.

At the time, his words were only spoken in context with the outcome of the big match that forthcoming afternoon. Indeed the worse
thought in any of our minds that morning, was that we’d be knocked out of the semi final of the FA cup, that the bad luck which the
lone magpie had brought, would be confined to the simple scoreline of a soccer match. But just five hours later, some 70 miles away in
South Yorkshire, we were to witness the
most inconceivable heartbreak that the magpie’s message of sorrow could ever bring, as the horror of Hillsborough unfolded before our
very eyes.

“Nottingham’s that way mate” Someone shouted across to the bird, bringing laughter from the fifty or so lads lined up against the
shaded wall. The bird then took flight as a ham sandwich from Alan’s packed lunch, was hurtled through the air in its direction. “Throw it
two for joy” came a quip from down the line, to more laughter. Spirits are traditionally high on days like these, humour is applied to
almost everything, and today was no exception. It wasn’t long before our coach arrived to the sound of cheers. A few of us turned
round, touched the Shankly gates, then boarded the bus.

The journey that morning seemed like dejavu. Nearly 12 months ago to the day, we’d crossed the Yorkshire moors at the same stage of
the FA cup, to the same venue, to face the same team, Nottingham Forest. That day in 1988 will also stay forever etched
in our minds, not so much for the result of the football match which Liverpool won comfortably, but for being the single most reason
why all of us survived the nightmare just one year later. Like the previous April, we all possessed tickets for the Leppings lane end, a
small Victorian terrace dissected into caged pens, a testimony to the segregation brought about by the bad old days of hooliganism.
Back then, most of the terraces at stadiums were fenced in with metal railings, mainly to discourage pitch invasions or stop rival fans
from clashing, but unlike most grounds, Hillsborough’s Leppings lane was a death trap lying in wait.

As we neared the ground that previous year, we were funnelled through metal crowd calming barriers , situated some distance from the
turnstiles which were heavily policed. Everybody had to undergo a routine search and show their tickets before being allowed past. It
seemed pretty severe at the time, but was well organised. On entry to the ground, we were confronted by a tunnel which leads to the
terraces behind the goal. From the turnstiles, It was the only visible point of entry, so naturally, everybody assumed it would lead to all
sections behind the goal.
We could see the white goal posts and part of the lush green pitch as we pushed our way slowly through the packed tunnel.

This experience was nothing new, something reflected by the ironic mooing and cattle impersonations which used to ring out in such
situations, but this particular time was more intense and prolonged than anything I’d ever experienced. I found myself unable to even
turn my shoulders, my arms were compressed and locked firmly against my sides unable to move as we edged slowly
down through the heat of the tunnel. The pressure was vice like. At times my two feet were pinioned off the floor, my six foot two,15
stone frame helpless, as it was carried along unwillingly in a sea of human life.

My brother was just about visible to my left. The rest of the lads were somewhere nearby, but by this time, my main concern was to
get onto the terracing for some much needed relief.
The situation wasn’t helped by bodies coming back in our direction. “You can’t see a ****ing thing in there” someone said as we crossed
paths. I was now almost facing backwards, spun around by the weight of the surge outwards, until eventually I filtered out of the dark
into the sunlight which lit up pen number three.

Once inside I pushed my way slowly to my right along the back wall towards the tall blue railings which separated the pens. Like
thousands of others, I foolishly believed there would be gateways or some kind of openings where we could disperse into the
surrounding enclosures, but to my disbelief there was no way out, we were trapped in a cage without a single outlet apart from the
tunnel through which we arrived.

“**** this, lets get out of here” came the shout from my brother, tugging on his shirt collar as he blew for air. His blonde hair was now
unrecognisable, dark and saturated, stuck to his forehead. We now knew why so many were heading back through the tunnel, and
quickly followed suit. It was like a continuous contraflow of bodies circulating inside the pen then retreating with the realisation that
there was no way out. There was understandable anxiety and anger visible on many faces as we
gridlocked in the dark passage. Tempers rose with the heat, while anxiety was born out of claustrophobic frustration.

We eventually came back out into the daylight and unfused ourselves from the human mass. “Did you see any of the others ?” I said,
squatting down for a breather near the turnstiles.
My brother stood crouched forward with his hands on his thighs. Without looking up he replied ..” You’re joking aren’t yer, they’re
probably all still swirling round in that toilet bowl.” Although he didn’t realise it at the time, his analogy
seemed to perfectly sum up our experience, for we now knew the feeling of being flushed down a dark pressurised tube into a sealed
chamber, and also how it felt to be treated like human sewage.

Stewards and police then started guiding people away from the tunnel entrance, ushering them towards the side pens.
We followed their directions and walked around the back of the West stand to an area high and left of corner flag where we stayed for
the remainder of the afternoon.

Of the thirteen lads who’d entered the ground with us that day, we were now just two, scattered and lost within 15 minutes of entering
the stadium. The next time we met was back at the coach where the result of the game overshadowed any negative thoughts about
our unpleasant parting of company. Things like that happened to football fans all the time those days, you just accepted it, and at any
rate we had another trip to the capital to savour, to a place unlike today, where the tunnel walk is organised into two lines and leads to
the freedom of a football pitch, below the twin towers of Wembley stadium.

“Right boys, yer all know the score, whatever yer do, don’t go in that ****ing middle section. If we get split up, make yer way to the
corner on the left.” Came the orders from Riley, sat on the back seat. We all unanimously agreed.
“Only cos you can’t fit down the tunnel yer fat bastard.” came Alan’s reply, triggering a wonderfully amusing hour as they traded insults
across East Lancashire. Through the laughter, I couldn’t help overhearing the hearty giggles of two young lads
sitting across the Isle to my left. Amused by the overweight Riley, who by now was singing Liverpool songs using a sausage roll as a
“He’s crackers him isn’t he mate?” Said the younger of the two. “Not half lad” I replied “and if I was you, I’d hide those sarnies.”
Pointing at his packed lunch which was placed in a tupperware box between his feet. “It’s alright, me mum’s made extra ones in case
there’s no shops on the way home.”
The naievety of the lad was instantly apparent. I could tell by his accent that he was a Merseysider, but not from the inner
city. He was bright with the refreshing innocence of a gullible kid.

We spoke many times on our journey, mainly about football. He told me of his Idol, John Barnes, saying how much he’d love to meet him.
How his bedroom wall was covered top to bottom with pictures of the brilliant winger, and of his dislike of any rival fans who abused
Barnsey because of the colour of his skin.

On the outskirts of Sheffield we came to a virtual standstill. Roadworks and police checks slowed the traffic to a mere crawl. It was
now 1-15pm and we were growing concerned about missing the start of the match. Just then, four policemen boarded our coach. “Ok
you lot, If anyone has any alcohol, I’d advise them to hand it over now. we’ll be searching the coach in a moment, if we find anyone’s
hidden any, we’re impounding the coach and none of you will get to the match.” The attitude of the officer was cold and
uncompromising. Whatever orders he’d been briefed with that morning certainly didn’t include any light-hearted diplomacy or sense of
humour, these boys meant business. In the 80’s There were heavy fines for coach firms who were found to be transporting alcohol on
soccer excursions. If you tried to board a coach with any beer, it was confiscated. We all knew this so never bothered bringing any in
the hope of having a traditional pre match drink in Sheffield before the game.

One of the officers who searched our bags was grossly overweight for a policeman. Sweat continuously rolled down his red chubby face
onto his yellow illuminous jacket. Alan seized his chance, shouting down the coach to his superior “Excuse me officer, can I
make a complaint please ? ” “What’s your problem” came the stern reply. Alan followed up with..“This policeman here, he’s robbing all
the pork pies out of our bags.” Within seconds he was being dragged off the coach, the sound of laughter ringing in his ears, returning
five minutes later to a round of applause.

We arrived near Hillsborough at around 2-10pm and decided to make our way towards the ground. The weather was glorious as we
scoured the surrounding streets looking for an off licence, with no joy. We made do with cans of soft drinks then headed towards the
stadium up Leppings lane. I noticed there was no crowd control barriers like last year, evident by the unorganised mass of fans building
up outside the 3 turnstiles which we duly joined. It was approximately 2-35pm when I barged my
way into the turnstile then into the ground.

I emerged to the sound of Riley’s voice..”That’s ****ing ridiculous that, they haven’t got a clue.” he said fixing his
white shirt back into his jeans. We waited for the others for a few minutes, watching flushed faces surface from the turnstiles which
clicked continuously above the noisy commotion outside.

Everybody apart from us was heading down the tunnel into pen
number three. There were no police or stewards at the tunnel entrance, which was beginning to back up with traffic just as it did last
year. Riley looked at me, blowing his cheeks out saying “**** that,” I nodded in agreement then we both headed up to our arranged
meeting place by the corner flag.
We were surprised at the sparsity inside the enclosure. It was only 10 minutes to kick off, but there were glaring empty
spaces all around. Alan then appeared with my brother.. “What the ****’s going on here ?” He said standing in a huge empty space with
his arms outstretched.. “Are Everton playing or something?” From our vantage point we could see across the
length of Leppings lane. The opposite corner and side pens were also as deserted as ours. In sharp contrast, Pens three and four
directly behind the goal looked full to capacity, apparent by the constant swaying of heads which rolled up and down like breakers on a

The last two of our party arrived just as the teams came out onto
the pitch. One of them was shaking his head saying.. “You wanna see the crowds out there, there’s thousands trying to get in. It’s
****ing bedlam, they’re never gonna make the kick off.”
A couple of us walked to the back of the half empty enclosure to
survey the scene outside. There was pandemonium going on out there. Control and order had been completely lost. Police horses were
rearing up, with people pinned up against walls as thousands fearing they’d miss the start of the game tried desperately to
get in. “They’ll have to delay the kick off” I said to Alan who agreed saying..”They’ve got no choice lad, there’s more out there than in
here.” We were amazed when the match was allowed to kick off at 3pm, a decision, or rather indecision which was to play a major part
in the events which followed.

My recollection of the six or seven minutes of football actually played that day are vague, but what I do remember was Liverpool hitting
the Nottingham Forest crossbar, a moment which brought that familiar roaring sigh heard at football grounds every
Saturday afternoon.. To the thousands massed outside, those roars must have been torturous to hear. To a football fan, there is no
worse feeling than standing outside a stadium while a match is underway. This can be magnified ten fold when the match is
an FA cup semi final.

The decision by police to open exit gate C, was made as a
result of the crushing and hysteria which had been allowed to build up outside. It would prove to be a fatal unforgivable decision as
death rubbed its hands and laughed as it led the charge into pens three and four.

“Get off the pitch lad will yer, you’re gonna get the game called off.” came a shout from behind us. It was the first sign that something
was wrong. The middle sections of pens three and four had now swelled to damn bursting proportions. Hands and arms waved aimlessly
through the blue bars around the cage.

Some fans scaled and hung from the railings trying to escape, while others were pulled up to safety by people above and behind in the
West Stand. There were people on the pitch, clearly distressed, running to the players pointing frantically towards the terrace. Some
fans punched and pulled at the mesh fencing in the front of the cage. The game was stopped and the players slowly left the field,
unaware like all of us, of the carnage which was unfolding. The realisation that we were witnessing a living nightmare came when we
saw two young lads stretched out behind the goal in their red Football tops, being given the kiss of life. Many walked dazed and
confused stopping only to kneel and vomit. Some had dark wet stains on their pants where
they’d urinated with fear.
“Something bad’s happening here lad, something really bad’s happening I can feel it. “ Alan said. He was voicing something we all felt,
but were too frightened to admit The churning in my stomach was becoming intense. Some of us moved down towards the fence, where
the sound of people screaming and pleading for help became unbearable. The despair of hearing the death cry of
innocent people, mainly children, weeping as they reach out to you to save their lives, is the most painful and harrowing sound which
could ever be unleashed on a human being. The vexation at being unable to help them served only to augment the pain and
distress to levels which go way beyond normality, cutting deep into the mind and soul.

We were now near the front peering through the bars just a few yards from the pitch. Fans who’d escaped onto the pitch were now
breaking up advertising hoardings, using them as makeshift stretchers. These people acted in a manner known in army terms as
‘services above and beyond the call of duty.’ One after the other they placed the bodies of dead and injured fans onto the boards then
raced along the length of the pitch to the gymnasium situated underneath the North stand.

The noise of ambulance sirens from the surrounding streets added to the mayhem. Just then only a few yards from where we stood, the
body of a man no more than 40 years old was placed down
on the pitch. As long as I live I’ll never forget him. His eyes were open, but lifeless. His black hair was wet and matted to his scalp. He
wore a red Liverpool jersey with light blue denim jeans which were undone and pulled down slightly below his plump middle. Both shoes
were also missing. The two men who placed him down were of a similar age. One tried desperately to revive him with mouth to mouth
resuscitation while the other held his pale hand and wept.

It was obvious to all but his two friends that he was dead. That lad tried so hard to bring him back to life, pleading with him to
wake up in between kisses of life. In a state of complete devastation , he then began thumping and pressing on his chest shouting in
tears. “Wake up Kev, please wake up.” The thumping gradually gave way to weak taps, before he rested his head onto the white letters
of ‘Candy’ which were written across his friend’s shirt, then broke down.

Everyone around that fence cried with him. Like us, those lads probably set off in exuberant mood that morning Saying goodbye to
wives, kids, or parents on their way to simple football match. To be lying on the sun drenched pitch later that day over
the lifeless body of a friend or relative must have been the most heart-rending traumatic ordeals imaginable. It was now too much to
bear. “I’ve got to get out of here” I said to Alan.
We walked back up the steps then out through the back of the
West stand.

Outside the scene reminded me of traumatised soldiers sitting about shell-shocked after a battle, the smell of death was everywhere,
only this time the soldiers were innocent football fans.

People unashamedly wept and hugged one another. Some understandably vented their anger at two passing policemen who walked
aimlessly holding their hats by their sides. I don’t know exactly what role they’d played, if indeed any, but one was obviously in a
distressed state “You bastards caused that, you ****ing killed them all.” a lad shouted through fits of tears.

Unlike any of his superiors, the distressed one of the two covered his eyes and openly cried. We walked back towards the coach. The
deafening sound of sirens had now grown even more amplified, with blue flashing lights converging from every possible direction around

Back at the coach we met the rest of the lads, nobody spoke.
We took our seats and sat silent in our own thoughts staring at the road through the windows. The only sound was the coach radio
which was broadcasting live from the ground. The death count seemed to rise every minute. When we boarded the bus at
approx 4-15pm the death toll was 34. By 4-45pm it was 78. Alan cried inconsolably at each bulletin. My stomach was now knotted so
much that I had to embrace it tightly to take away the constant feeling of nausea.

At nearly 7pm we were still two passengers short. The two young lads who sat opposite me on the outward journey were still
unaccounted for. Robbie the steward walked to the back of the coach. “We’re gonna have to go back to the ground boys, to see
what’s happened to these two kids.” Everyone silently nodded in agreement. Robbie had a list of passengers names, so we made our
way back to Hillsborough. The sirens had now eased to the
occasional wail, taken over by the surreal sight of hundreds of silent flashing blue neon lights.

We waited while Robbie went into the temporary morgue under the
North stand. An hour later he returned alone, clearly upset by the sights he’d witnessed inside. The two lads still couldn’t be traced. A
decision was then taken to return to Liverpool without them. No one spoke a word on the journey home.

The only sound was the coach engine as it headed back on the A roads across the moors. Although I tried not to, I was occasionally
drawn towards the boys empty seats to my left. One had left his beige coat crumpled up near the window, while on the seat nearest
me was the youngest lad’s tupperware box.

We stared from the windows at the dark eerie Yorkshire moors. Just like the feeling inside all of us, they lay barren and
desolate. On any other occasion the endless blackness of these unearthly wastelands would almost certainly have brought that chilling
feeling experienced in nightmares. Only this time, eyes stared through the dark undaunted, for our nightmare had already
been lived out, the mother of all nightmares, which unfolded not in darkness, but in the broad light of day.

We arrived back at Anfield road at around 11pm. Families and relatives hugged their sons and husbands, many in tears. There were
scarves tied to the Shankly gates. Red and white entwined with Everton blue as the city united in grief. We asked Robbie for the two
missing boys names, then all shook hands and
embraced before going our separate ways.

In the nine years I’d known my wife before the tragedy, she had never seen me cry. For years I’d shown no emotion through a macho
type self esteem which was the mark of my generation. All this changed in the early hours of April 16th 1989. Curled up on the bed like
an infant holding on to its mother, I wept unashamedly into her cradled arms.

I awoke the next morning to the sound of Jennifer Rush’s ‘power of love’ which was playing low on the radio. As it reached the lyrics ‘Im
your lady and you are my man.’ My wife who was sat on the bed beside me broke down in tears. “Oh god,how could
this happen, how could it happen.”

It signalled the realisation that I hadn’t been dreaming as the devastation and enormity of the disaster hit like a hammer. It was around
11am when Riley phoned me to tell me that the two boys from the coach had been killed. I’d prayed so much that morning for those two
lads. I kept hearing the youngest boys voice in my mind telling me about Johnny Barnes. kept seeing his mother putting his sandwiches
in the tupperware box he left on the coach. While all the time feeling shame and self condemnation for not taking him with me to safety.
I grieved for that boy as though he were my own brother and have done so ever since.

In the thirteen years since Hillsborough, I’ve had many dreams about that awful day. Sometimes I’m on the coach telling the boy not to
go down the tunnel. Other times I see him as he’d be now, smiling outside a church amidst a snowfall of confetti with his bride holding a
bunch of yellow daffodils. But always as I approach him, the flowers wither as the scene changes to mourners weeping at a graveside,
and there standing amongst them is his idol Johnny Barnes.

Hillsborough affected all of us in different ways. Understandably, thousands found it too traumatic to ever return. For nearly 30 years
Alan had watched Liverpool.
Always the joker and life and soul of the party.

He’s never attended a football match ever since. His tormented mind scarred too deeply with what he saw and heard that day. Scenes
which nobody should ever have to witness interweave with sounds which envelop and soak deep into the memory, to be released with
tears in moments of solitude. His words “something died inside me that day “ can be applied to all of us
who were there or were affected by this monumental senseless tragedy.

Each year when the daffodils light up the fields, or when the dawn awakens me with early season sunshine, I always drift back to that
terrible day. Springtime fills me with so many emotions, sights and sounds which will haunt me forever. And there amongst them, is the
rattled call of a lone magpie, a call which will torment me until the day I die.


1,384 Posts
Justice for the 96!!!

9,967 Posts
The more I read about this account and other survivor's account, I am beginning to wonder why the authorities never take responsibility for the death of these 96 fans? Could the incident at Hysel a few years back prejudiced against the perception of events that happened, even though it was a totally different incident.

I watched the game 'live' and still can vividly envision Alridge's shot hitting Sutton's (can't remember his name, though) crossbar before seeing some fans crawled onto the pitch and the game was stopped. There was mass confusion about whether the game would restart, and the cameras focussed on stretchers being made from advertising hoardings, fans being ferried by fellow fans to and fro the ground, medical personnel trying to help, and strangely enough, policemen who were going about proceedings like a normal 3pm kick-off. Before long, the match was declared 'abandoned'. The full horrors of the situation only came to light for me on the next morning's papers, and to know that so many died, was unbelivable. I did not want to believe. They were probably nonsense. I told myself, but it was not. All in all, 96 died, the last, if I am not wrong, died when the family members decided to pull the plug on a young fan on ventilator some time after that. Anfield, for the next few days, was not for football purposes. The Kop stood empty. It became a shrine. It was serenely beautiful. Serene and yet mournful.

The emotional stress that engulf the players probably took the toll on them, and it was difficult to imagine how they could have continued. The FA Cup competition was only destined to be won by us. For many neutral, that was the general belief. For many that day, they never lived to see Liverpool again. For many that day too, though they lived, things were never the same again. A simple trip to Yorkshire could turned into something like this. Hopefully Hillsborough will be a lesson for all.


6,353 Posts
just one giant F.uckup!!!

what a waste!!!

516 Posts
What a sad day. No-one expects to go to a football match and not come back. How no-one has ever been properly punished is completely beyond me. Some people ****ed up proper that day. And that will never been forgotten.

To the 96: see you at the big Anfield in the sky one day and YNWA.

Premium Member
22,583 Posts
Thanks for posting this sad memorial Razor. :(
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