Wednesday, 15 April 2009

A day to remember

Saturday 15th April 1989 seemed like it would be a very good day. In Folkestone, where I was at the time, the sun was shining and it was a lovely spring day.

In the morning, I was going to the launch of the local Democrats' (as we still were then) campaign for the county council elections, the first major set of elections I'd be taking part in since joining the party the year before. And then in the afternoon I had the prospect of a couple of FA Cup semi-finals to enjoy.

The election campaign launch was an enjoyable occasion. The party locally was then in the midst of a good run of election results which would eventually see us take control of the district council. Everyone was in good heart and looking forward to the battle.

When it was over, I walked home and got in at about 3.15pm. I immediately turned on the telly and tuned in to Grandstand for news of the cup semis. At first everything seemed normal. For the first couple of minutes I think there was some horseracing being shown.

But a couple of minutes later, the presenter (was it Des Lynam? That's one of the few things I don't recall) said they were crossing to Hillsborough as there had been an 'incident'. We then got John Motson telling us that there had been some sort of problem with the crowd at one end of the ground. Details were sketchy, but he feared there might be casualties.

A few minutes later came word that we were looking at fatalities. And it was with mounting horror that the full scale of the tragedy at Hillsborough gradually became apparent.

I'm a football fan. Although at that time I'd never been to a really big game (I then used to follow Folkestone in the Southern League), I knew that the tragedy was something that could have happened to me, could have happened to any football fan. 96 people were there supporting their team and hoping to witness a great occasion. They never came home.

I remember in the days following the tragedy my eyes welling up when I saw the pictures of the floral tributes which were laid at Anfield. It was an emotional time for any football fan.

It is a disgrace that no-one was held responsible for the tragedy. I can only imagine what the families of the victims have gone through, what they are still going through.

That is why at 3.06pm today, the exact moment the crush happened 20 years ago, I stopped work for a minute and just paid a silent tribute to the memories of the victims of Hillsborough. I think football fans all over the country will have done the same.

1 comment:

Frank H Little said...

I can't remember where I was when the sad news came through, but I do remember Mrs Thatcher's disgraceful rush to judgement on the Liverpool fans.

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