The Hillsborough disaster occurred on April 15th, 1989 at Hillsborough Stadium in Sheffield, England during the semi-finals for the Football Association (FA) semi-final between Liverpool and Nottingham. This disaster occurred shortly before the game was supposed to kick off, when a human crush in the Leppings Lane end of the stadium — the west end — occurred. 96 Liverpool fans lost their lives, and another 766 were injured. Hillsborough Stadium had suffered from a crush in the Leppings Lane end in 1981 that injured 38 people, broken bones were the most serious injuries reported, and that crush resulted in the dividing of the end into three separate “pens” for spectators to stand in. There was another reported crush in 1988 too, but nothing was done about it by the City of Sheffield or by Sheffield Wednesday F.C.
On that fatal day, Liverpool F.C. was playing the Nottingham Forest Football club in the FA semi-final. Liverpool supporters were given the West and North ends of the stadium, and which had a capacity of 24,256…and only 23 turnstiles. With the limited number of turnstiles, a bottle neck quickly formed.
It was decided that the best way to get fans into the stadium quickly was to open up the exit gates. Eventually the two central pens began to over flow, and due to a Police mix up, there was no obstructions placed at the entrance to them. And the fans continued to pour into the pens, eventually leading to an over flow…and the crush began.
Fans began to climb over the fence — preventing fans from running onto the pitch — to get away from the pressure of the crush behind them. The refs were forced to cancel the match due to the influx of people on the pitch.
After that, the reports get a little confusing. England launched an official government inquiry into the disaster, and it was led by Lord Justice Taylor. Taylor published his official report in 1990 and it concluded that mistakes by the police department made a bad situation worse — like not placing horses at the entrance of the already full pen — worse…and played apart in the high death toll; according to Taylor, 41 people died after already being removed from the crush…but before they were able to get the hospital.
As the result of Taylor’s report into the incident, all football stadiums in England were required to be converted into all seater stadiums by the end of 1994.
Despite the safety improvements made after the disaster, many families and survivors felt that Taylor did not have all of the information he needed to properly forma conclusion as to what caused the disaster. An independent investigation was formed.
The Hillsborough Independent Panel found massive failures among the Sheffield Police in the events leading up to, during, and after the disaster…including an active cover up to make it hard for the Taylor to confirm his suspicion that the police played a major part in the disaster. England’s Parliament immediately launched another government inquiry into the disaster…that was a few months ago.
The organs that investigate police activity have been busy since Parliament reopened the investigation, as many active duty police officers have been suspended and fired for their part in the cover-up. For the families of those lost, and the survivors, the quest for true story about what happened on the 15th of April, 1989 has been a long and arduous journey. But it finally appears like they are starting to get to the bottom of the event that changed their lives, forever.
As of right now, Liverpool F.C. currently has the most points in the chase for the Premier League championship…25 years after the disaster.
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Proud alum of Washington State University, crazy sports nut, and drinker of beer.