The momentous and overdue verdicts that dominated both the front and back pages of the nations press is surprisingly hard to write about. It’s been everywhere, and finally for a positive reason, but to sum it up in words has proven to be really difficult.
The disaster that claimed 96 lives has always been something I have been aware of. As a scouser and a red, the negativity and injustice surrounding Hillsborough has been appalling, and I am in no way connected to the event through anything more than club loyalty. I’ve read the stories, heard the chants, followed the inquests, and watched the memorials; the treatment and reputation of fans, and families was both unfair and left them trashed.
I was born 2 and a half years after the tragic disaster that took the lives of 96 fans. I’ve started school, and finished; I’ve completed a gap year and a degree; I’ve travelled the world for a full year, and have got a full time job. My friends have got married, and had children, all within the amount of time it has taken for justice and truth to finally prevail. 71 of the victims had a shorter life than the 27 year span their families and the survivors have been campaigning and battling for their loved ones.
While the verdict of unlawful killing is a landmark for the families and the survivors, for me, the verdict and answer to question 7 that absolved the fans of blame was the most satisfying. To a fan who has heard the abusive chants and read the lies in print for so many years, to hear that a court has vindicated everyone who said that the fans were the victims and in no way to blame is the biggest result, and middle finger, to everyone from the high establishment to the lowest fan.
No amount of words, apologies, or results actually makes up for the fact 96 people went to cheer their team on and lost their lives due to such severe miscalculations, judgement, misdirection, and unlawful cover-ups. The right people may finally be held accountable for their actions surrounding that day, but for now, the justice and the truth, and the respect of the footballing teams around the country and Europe, has been welcome (if over-due).