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25th Anniversary of the Hillsborough Stadium Disaster

Posted on April 18, 2014 by Scott Huntington

Earlier this week marked the 25th anniversary of the worst stadium-related disaster in English sports. On April 15, 1989, the Hillsborough Stadium disaster occurred during an FA Cup semi-final match between Nottingham Forest and Liverpool at Sheffield Wednesday’s Hillsborough Stadium. The disaster resulted in the deaths of 96 people, who were honored at a ceremony at Anfield Stadium, the home of Liverpool Football Club. While Liverpool currently sits atop the English Premier League, this week serves as a period to remember the 96 people lost at Hillsborough Stadium 25 years ago.

hillsborough_stadium_disaster_17_october_2011

The Tragedy

25 years ago, the FA committee selected Hillsborough Stadium as the neutral site for the FA Cup semi-final match between Liverpool and Nottingham Forest. At that time, most English stadiums included high, steel fencing around the pitch in order to prohibit any rushing of the pitch, either friendly or hostile. Standing room for supporters was provided just beyond the fence. On the day of the disaster, only one terminal was opened for Liverpool fans to enter through, as a precaution to keep them separated from the Nottingham Forest fans. Massive overcrowding made the open terminal dangerous to both those who were attempting to get into the match and those who were being turned back for not having a ticket. In order to avoid injuries in the original entryway, police decided to open an exit gate that was designed to service departing fans.

The exit gate led to a narrow pathway to which fans flocked when it opened. Unfortunately for many fans, the narrow pathway led to the steel fence. As thousands of fans entered, many of them were pressed up against one another and a human crush formed. The police that were supposed to be stationed at the entrance of the gate should have cut off the flow of fans and direct them to another way in, but there were no policemen stationed outside the gate for unknown reasons.

It’s not like the fans were pushed up against soft Simmons mattresses, this was hard steel they were against.  The crush became lethal as fans tried to climb over the fence, break through the fence, and jump up to the safety of the raised stands. The referee of the match was forced to stop play due to the fans coming onto the track. 94 supporters were killed on that day, mostly from compressive asphyxia while standing. However, the total number of deaths from the Hillsborough Stadium disaster would reach 96. Procedures to determine the blame of the deaths are still ongoing after a police cover-up was discovered in 2012.

25th Anniversary Ceremony

The memories of the 96 people who lost their lives in the Hillsborough Stadium disaster were honored at Anfield Stadium on the 15th. Of approximately 30,000 attendants of the ceremony, the Liverpool team, Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers, and Everton manager Roberto Martinez were present. As manager of the other major football club in the city of Liverpool, Martinez gave a speech about uniting as a city. Both Martinez and Rodgers received standing ovations after speaking.

The names of the 96 victims were read aloud during the ceremony and churches around the region rang bells 96 times. Public transportation also honored the victims by halting for a minute’s silence at 3:06 p.m.—the time of the disaster. At the end of the ceremony, fans sang the Liverpool anthem, “You’ll Never Walk Alone,” as 96 balloons were released into the air.


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