The Hillsborough tragedy.....

Saj

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15th April 2009.

I wasnt aware that I actually work with a Hillsborough survivor. A colleague who was a lucky survivor having been caught up in the centre of the crush on the Leppings Lane terrace.

He wrote a 30 page article on that days events and I'm hoping to get a copy soon.

Its obviously too large to post here, but if anyone wants a copy PM me and give me your email address.
 
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I remember this day vividly.

Saturday afternoon - finished my shift for the day - walked to the City Centre, my usual practice - and make my way to the local ''Wimpy' for fish & chips.

Walked passed 'Radio Rentals' - could see some pre-match buildup on the Liverpool/Forest game on TV's inside. Couldnt understand why they were focussing on the crowd so much - kick off wasnt too far away.

Then fans started streaming onto the pitch - then you could see them climbing over walls. gates...and bizzarely up into the stands above!!

Then watched in horror as they showed images of people lying motionless on the pitch, and being carried out on shoulders and then on the advertising hoardings.

People were being crushed - dozens of people gathered outside the shop to watch - even more 'haunting' as we had no sound.

I must have stayed for about 30 mins....and no point did I think there were fatalities.

It wasnt until I made my way home and the enormity and reality of the tragedy hit me.

Nothing compared, like Saj says to people that were there, were victims, survivors, or relatives of those involved.

Visited the Hillsborough Memorial at Anfield 2 years ago - very chilling experience.
 
For anyone thats interested, Setanta Sports News (free to air) will be having a 'Hillsborough Week' all next week
 
Its 20 years and the pain has not subsided as the justice we should have gott by now is not forthcoming. I know a lot of people who are survivors most of whom have never been to a football match ever since.. A close friend of mine lost his elder brother and cousin.. He only remembers his brother through family pictures as he was only four when it happened oblivious of the tragedy.. Is it too much to ask for an apology from those who were responsible.. Is it too much to ask for wrongs to be corrected and is it too much to make sure the slanderous remarks made immediately afterwards by some parts of the media which were proven to be lies be corrected.. For those who do not know about Hillsborough please watch this to get an idea before you comment on 96 brothers and sisters who never returned .

[utube]mOFhqfOX7Xg[/utube]
 
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21 years today 96 brothers and sisters lost their lives.. 21 years on Justice has still not been done..

JFT 96

YNWA
 
<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-lang="en"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">30 years ago today, 96 children, women and men lost their lives at Hillsborough.<br><br>Our thoughts are with all those affected by the tragedy and the 96 fans who will never be forgotten. <a href="https://t.co/gD8pinxbxN">pic.twitter.com/gD8pinxbxN</a></p>— Liverpool FC (@LFC) <a href="https://twitter.com/LFC/status/1117563486052155399?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">April 14, 2019</a></blockquote>
<script async src="https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script>
 
Former Sheffield Wednesday club secretary Graham Mackrell has been fined £6,500 after being found guilty of a health and safety offence related to turnstile arrangements on the day of the Hillsborough disaster in April 1989.
 
Hillsborough match commander David Duckenfield has been found not guilty of the gross negligence manslaughter of 95 Liverpool fans in the 1989 disaster.

The former South Yorkshire Police chief superintendent, 75, was in charge of the FA Cup semi-final in which 96 fans were fatally injured.

Men, women and children were crushed on the Leppings Lane terrace.

Mr Duckenfield, of Ferndown, Dorset, was cleared after a seven-week retrial at Preston Crown Court.

Due to the law at the time, there can be no prosecution over the death of the 96th victim, Tony Bland.

This is because he died more than a year and a day after his injuries were caused.

The jury at Mr Duckenfield's original trial earlier this year failed to agree a verdict.

Christine Burke, whose father Henry Burke was killed in the disaster, stood in the public gallery and addressed the judge after the verdict was read out.

"With all due respect, my lord, 96 people were found unlawfully killed to a criminal standard," she said.

"I would like to know who is responsible for my father's death because someone is."

Barry Devonside, whose son Christopher, 18, died in the disaster, said: "I'm shocked and stunned by the verdict of the jury.

"We, the families, have fought for 30 years valiantly."

Mr Duckenfield's defence counsel argued the case against him was "deeply unfair".

Benjamin Myers QC told the jury his client had become "the focus of blame".

"We say that is unfair, there are so many other people at fault, and so many causes," the barrister added.

The prosecution alleged Mr Duckenfield had a "personal responsibility" for what happened at the match.

The court heard he had ordered the opening of exit gates at the Leppings Lane end of the ground at 14:52 BST on 15 April 1989 - eight minutes before kick-off, after the area outside the turnstiles became dangerously overcrowded.

More than 2,000 fans then entered through exit gate C, with many heading for the tunnel ahead of them, which led to the central pens of the terrace where the crush happened.

Paul Robinson, whose brother Steven was killed in the stadium crush, said: "As a family we would like to thank all those who have supported us over the years in our quest for justice and accountability.

"We firmly believe that we have done everything in our power to do right by our Steven and we walk away from this case with our dignity and our heads held high."

Mr Duckenfield's wife, Ann, went over to comfort her husband in the courtroom after the verdict was read out.

https://www.bbc.com/news/uk-england-50592077
 
The police officer in charge on the day of the Hillsborough football disaster has been cleared of gross negligence manslaughter.

David Duckenfield, who is now 75, has been on trial accused of causing the deaths of 95 Liverpool fans who died at the 1989 FA Cup semi-final in Sheffield - the UK's worst sporting disaster.

The majority verdict from the jury at Preston Crown Court marks a big setback for the bereaved families who have campaigned for justice over the past 30 years.

There were gasps in the public gallery as the foreman returned the verdict.

Christine Burke, who father Henry was killed in the tragedy, stood in the public gallery and addressed the judge.

She said: "With all due respect, my lord, 96 people were found unlawfully killed to a criminal standard."

In tears, she went on: "I would like to know who is responsible for my father's death, because someone is."

Barry Devonside, whose 18-year-old son Christopher died in the disaster, said: "I'm shocked and stunned by the verdict of the jury. We, the families, have fought for 30 years valiantly."

One of the female jurors walked out in tears as the jury filed out of the courtroom.

In a news conference later, Margaret Aspinall, whose 18-year-old son James died, said: "I blame a system that's so morally wrong within this country, that's a disgrace to this nation.

"When 96 people, they say 95, we say 96, are unlawfully killed and yet not one person is accountable.

"The question I'd like to ask all of you and people within the system is who put 96 people in their graves, who is accountable?"

"What a disgrace this has been today and what a shame on this country of ours. I feel so embarrassed to say that is the system within our country."

She added: "How can 96, I ask all of you, how can 96 be unlawfully killed and no one be accountable?

"Please give us the answer - who unlawfully killed my son along with 95 others?

"And I think now what we've got to try and do is change a system that's in this country that is so wrong."

Hillsborough victim's mother reacts to the not guilty verdict from the trial of the match commander

Liverpool mayor Joe Anderson said: "Today's outcome is a huge disappointment for the families, the survivors and for all of those still trying to come to terms with the disaster that unfolded at Hillsborough on 15 April 1989."

As the verdict came in, Mr Duckenfield sat impassive in front of the dock with his hands clasped and then drank from a glass of water.

Benjamin Myers QC, defending him, claimed his client had been a "target of blame" for the disaster.

He told the court: "We say David Duckenfield did do what he was expected to do as match commander. He didn't breach his duty, he did what he was expected to do in difficult circumstances."

It was only at the inquests - which concluded in 2016 - that the myth fans were to blame was finally laid to rest and the deaths were ruled to be unlawful.

The families have since continued their fight for accountability and Operation Resolve, a new police investigation, reassessed all of the evidence and decided to prosecute Mr Duckenfield.

He stood trial earlier this year but jury members were unable to reach a verdict. The retrial has now cleared him of 95 counts of gross negligence manslaughter.

The "96th victim", Tony Bland, died from his injuries nearly four years later and too much time had passed for his case to be included in the charges Mr Duckenfield faced.

Margie Matthews lost her 38-year-old husband Brian at Hillsborough. He was a bank manager.

Three decades on, she struggles to see how Mr Duckenfield could be blamed for the entire tragedy.

"I don't think one man can be the figurehead or the whipping boy for the whole of the tragedy that unfolded," she said.

"I don't hate the man, I don't hate anyone - I feel dreadfully sorry for him right now the age he has got to.

"I wouldn't like to swap his mind, his thoughts and his emotions for anything else in the world."

The commander of Operation Resolve, Assistant Commissioner Rob Beckley, defended the multimillion-pound cost of the prosecution.

He said: "For those who have been affected [by Hillsborough] any price is appropriate and that's what we've always got to remember.

"There are many people: the victims, the victims' families and the thousands of people who've been affected. It's for them that it is right that we try and bottom this matter out."

https://news.sky.com/story/hillsbor...lty-of-gross-negligence-manslaughter-11870435
 
The verdict didn't surprise me as The Establishment protects their own, and it's incredibly difficult to convict police officers for wrongdoing.

I could write a lot on this subject but all I'll say the families ought to have no regrets. They fought with what little they had against the might of the British Establishment.

They exposed the police coverup and the ineptitude of South Yorkshire police commanders. They took on the British Government who for years resisted a proper inquiry.

They got the HIP report which lays out the truth for all to see, demolishing every dirty lie The Sun newspaper pedalled in 1989, they reversed the abomination that was the 1991 inquest and got the unlawful killing verdict, and they finally made the man on whose hands the lives of 96 people was lost stand trial and be held accountable.
 
A minute's silence was observed at Anfield on Wednesday night in memory of the 96 supporters who lost their lives at Hillsborough.

On the eve of the 32nd anniversary of the tragedy, respects were paid before kick-off in Liverpool’s Champions League quarter-final second leg against Real Madrid.

Watch the tribute to the 96 children, women and men who died at Hillsborough on April 15, 1989 above.

The players also wore black armbands for the game, LED dedications were displayed and there was a commemorative edition of the matchday programme to mark the anniversary.
 
The trial of two retired police officers and a solicitor accused of perverting the course of justice following the Hillsborough disaster has collapsed after the judge ruled there was no case to answer.

After four weeks of evidence, lawyers for former chief superintendent Donald Denton, 83, retired detective chief inspector Alan Foster, 74, and Peter Metcalf, 71, who was solicitor for the force in 1989, applied to have the case against them dismissed.

The three men were each accused of two counts of doing acts tending and intended to pervert the course of justice and it was alleged they were involved in a process of amending officers' statements to minimise the blame on South Yorkshire Police following the disaster at the FA Cup semi-final on April 15 1989, in which 96 Liverpool fans died.

In a ruling handed down at the Nightingale court at the Lowry theatre in Salford on Wednesday, judge Mr Justice William Davis said the amended statements were intended for a public inquiry into safety at sports grounds led by Lord Justice Taylor, but that was not a course of public justice.

He concluded there was no case fit for consideration by the jury based on any of the six counts on the indictment.

In the ruling, he said: "I repeat my observation about the anxiety and distress being felt by the families of those affected by the Hillsborough disaster.

"These proceedings have been very drawn-out following a lengthy trial process involving the match commander.

"I know the strength of feeling there was after his acquittal. I am aware that these proceedings also have been observed with interest.

"However, whatever the anxiety and distress, I have to determine whether there is evidence to support the particular criminal offence with which these defendants have been charged. In concluding that there is not, that is all I do."

But expert witness Sir Robert Francis QC told the jury there was no legal duty of candour for police at a public inquiry.

Mr Denton, Mr Metcalf and Mr Foster were charged in 2017 following an investigation by the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) into allegations of a cover-up by police following the tragedy.

Sir Norman Bettison, a chief inspector in 1989 who went on to become chief constable of Merseyside and West Yorkshire, was charged with misconduct in a public office as part of the investigation but the charges against were dropped in August 2018.

The match commander on the day, David Duckenfield, was charged with gross negligence manslaughter in 2017 but he was cleared in 2019 at a retrial, after the jury in his first trial was unable to reach a verdict.

In May 2019, former Sheffield Wednesday club secretary Graham Mackrell was fined £6,500 and ordered to pay £5,000 costs after he was convicted of failing to ensure the health and safety of fans arriving at the ground on the day of the disaster.

SKY
 
Really feel for the families of the 96 today.

Another tough day for them after the verdict.
 
Two police forces have agreed to pay damages to more than 600 survivors and family members following a cover-up of the Hillsborough disaster, lawyers have said.

The West Midlands and South Yorkshire forces agreed the settlement earlier this year after a civil claim for misfeasance in a public office was brought on behalf of 601 claimants, lawyers representing the victims said.

Nobody has ever been convicted over the cover-up following the incident at Sheffield's Hillsborough Stadium during the 1989 FA Cup semi-final in which 96 Liverpool fans died.

Shortly before kick-off, supporters were let through a gate, which caused crowding in the stand and a crush, leading to dozens of deaths and 766 injuries.

In the days and weeks after, police fed the press false stories suggesting hooliganism and drunkness of Liverpool supporters caused the disaster.

Even after a report in 1990 found the main cause was a failure of control on the day by the police, blaming of the fans persisted.

The claim was started in 2015 and agreed in April, but could not be reported until the conclusion of the trial of former South Yorkshire Police chief superintendent Donald Denton, 83, retired detective chief inspector Alan Foster, 74, and Peter Metcalf, 71, the force's lawyer at the time.

The three men were accused of amending police officers' statements to minimise blame on the force but were all acquitted of two counts of perverting the course of justice last week after a judge ruled there was no case to answer.

Lawyers said the two police forces will pay damages to compensate each claimant for injuries suffered and provide access to a treatment fund for further psychiatric treatment or counselling.

Where the claimants have died, the compensation will be paid to their estate.

They did not say how much the payout is.

A spokesman for Saunders Law, the lead solicitors for the group litigation, said: "Through this civil claim for misfeasance in a public office, 601 victims sought justice and accountability for the deliberate, orchestrated and thoroughly dishonest police cover-up that suppressed the truth about the responsibility of the police and blamed the football supporters for the horrific events that unfolded at the Hillsborough Stadium on April 15 1989."

The disaster at Sheffield Wednesday's stadium was investigated by West Midlands Police.

Lawyers said the cover-up had caused added psychiatric injury to the survivors and the families of those who died.

The spokesman added: "The settlement of these claims marks the end of an unparalleled and extraordinary fight for justice by the victims and their families."

An apology for the cover-up was given in 2012 by the then-chief constable of South Yorkshire Police David Crompton after the publication of the Hillsborough Independent Panel report.

New inquests were also carried out and concluded in 2016, finding the 96 men, women and children who died were unlawfully killed and fans played no part in the causes of the disaster.

Saunders Law said there had been "an almost complete failure of the justice system to deliver justice" and called for a Hillsborough Law, which would include a duty of candour for public officials.

The spokesman said: "We trust that this settlement will put an end to any fresh attempts to rewrite the record and wrongly claim that there was no cover-up.

"In so commenting, we contrast the dignity of the bereaved families and the supporters with the conduct of those who still seek to peddle the discredited lies of the past."

SKYNEWS
 
Two police forces have agreed to pay damages to more than 600 survivors and family members following a cover-up of the Hillsborough disaster, lawyers have said.

The West Midlands and South Yorkshire forces agreed the settlement earlier this year after a civil claim for misfeasance in a public office was brought on behalf of 601 claimants, lawyers representing the victims said.

Nobody has ever been convicted over the cover-up following the incident at Sheffield's Hillsborough Stadium during the 1989 FA Cup semi-final in which 96 Liverpool fans died.

Shortly before kick-off, supporters were let through a gate, which caused crowding in the stand and a crush, leading to dozens of deaths and 766 injuries.

In the days and weeks after, police fed the press false stories suggesting hooliganism and drunkness of Liverpool supporters caused the disaster.

Even after a report in 1990 found the main cause was a failure of control on the day by the police, blaming of the fans persisted.

The claim was started in 2015 and agreed in April, but could not be reported until the conclusion of the trial of former South Yorkshire Police chief superintendent Donald Denton, 83, retired detective chief inspector Alan Foster, 74, and Peter Metcalf, 71, the force's lawyer at the time.

The three men were accused of amending police officers' statements to minimise blame on the force but were all acquitted of two counts of perverting the course of justice last week after a judge ruled there was no case to answer.

Lawyers said the two police forces will pay damages to compensate each claimant for injuries suffered and provide access to a treatment fund for further psychiatric treatment or counselling.

Where the claimants have died, the compensation will be paid to their estate.

They did not say how much the payout is.

A spokesman for Saunders Law, the lead solicitors for the group litigation, said: "Through this civil claim for misfeasance in a public office, 601 victims sought justice and accountability for the deliberate, orchestrated and thoroughly dishonest police cover-up that suppressed the truth about the responsibility of the police and blamed the football supporters for the horrific events that unfolded at the Hillsborough Stadium on April 15 1989."

The disaster at Sheffield Wednesday's stadium was investigated by West Midlands Police.

Lawyers said the cover-up had caused added psychiatric injury to the survivors and the families of those who died.

The spokesman added: "The settlement of these claims marks the end of an unparalleled and extraordinary fight for justice by the victims and their families."

An apology for the cover-up was given in 2012 by the then-chief constable of South Yorkshire Police David Crompton after the publication of the Hillsborough Independent Panel report.

New inquests were also carried out and concluded in 2016, finding the 96 men, women and children who died were unlawfully killed and fans played no part in the causes of the disaster.

Saunders Law said there had been "an almost complete failure of the justice system to deliver justice" and called for a Hillsborough Law, which would include a duty of candour for public officials.

The spokesman said: "We trust that this settlement will put an end to any fresh attempts to rewrite the record and wrongly claim that there was no cover-up.

"In so commenting, we contrast the dignity of the bereaved families and the supporters with the conduct of those who still seek to peddle the discredited lies of the past."

SKYNEWS
 
Devastating news last night about Andrew Devine.

He was a Liverpool fan who suffered permanent brain injuries after being crushed at Hillsborough in 1989.

He's died at the age of 55, and the coroner ruled him to be the 97th victim of the Disaster. RIP.
 
It is time to close this chapter. Let the victims of this tragedy rest in peace now.
 
It was so sad that Anne Williams died before the inquest exonerated the fans a few years later.

Such a courageous and dignified woman who fought so valiantly for the truth about her son to the last.

Absolutely.

Great drama this, very well made.

So sad and at times difficult to watch.
 
Nottingham Forest will leave 97 seats vacant during their FA Cup match against Liverpool at the City Ground on Sunday in memory of those who lost their lives in the Hillsborough disaster in 1989.
 
<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-partner="tweetdeck"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">Sky Sports commentator Martin Tyler has issued an apology for comments made during a BBC interview on Friday morning <a href="https://t.co/x4h8UKgb0r">pic.twitter.com/x4h8UKgb0r</a></p>— Sky Sports (@SkySports) <a href="https://twitter.com/SkySports/status/1555508332588400644?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">August 5, 2022</a></blockquote>
<script async src="https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script>
 
A Hillsborough support group has called on Liverpool fans to "show respect" to the period of silence for Queen Elizabeth II before Tuesday's Champions League match against Ajax at Anfield.

The Hillsborough Survivors Support Alliance fears any "backlash" would result in an increase in abuse over the 1989 stadium disaster.

Liverpool fans booed Abide With Me and God Save the Queen before last season's FA Cup final at Wembley, leading to condemnation by then-prime minister Boris Johnson.

The period of silence will be held after a request by Liverpool to Uefa following the Queen's death on Thursday.

In a statement on Twitter, the group said: "Everyone attending tonight's match, please show respect and observe the minute's silence.

"You probably think that any backlash won't affect you but it will affect us and family members with the increase in abuse over Hillsborough.

"Respect costs nothing and that goes both ways."

Reds legend Sir Kenny Dalglish responded: "Brilliantly put. I hope everybody at Anfield can respect these wishes tonight."

On Monday, Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp said he was confident fans would respect the period of silence.

He said the respect shown by supporters to Cristiano Ronaldo when the club hosted Manchester United last season - following the death of the forward's baby son - demonstrated there should be no concerns about fan behaviour.

"There are plenty of examples where people showed exactly the right respect," Klopp added.

Earlier this year, Liverpool said it would call on "the full force of the law" to stop "vile chants" about the Hillsborough disaster.

The Premier League club pointed to a rise in the singing of songs about the tragedy - where 97 fans lost their lives as a result of a crush at an FA Cup semi-final.

The Hillsborough tragedy remains the UK's worst sporting disaster, with a jury at an inquest later ruling that they were unlawfully killed.

BBC
 
Police chiefs have promised to acknowledge mistakes and not "defend the indefensible" as they set out long-awaited reforms in the wake of a report into the Hillsborough disaster.

Among the changes is a Charter For Families Bereaved Through Public Tragedy, which commits police leaders to acknowledge any mistakes and ensure "care, compassion, openness, transparency and accountability".

https://news.sky.com/story/police-p...-hillsborough-report-recommendations-12799806
 
Dominic Raab has offered to meet Hillsborough families following strong criticism of the government for not responding to a report on their experiences.

The justice secretary told families of the 97 victims the government would be establishing an Independent Public Advocate (IPA) to support those affected by major disasters.

The government has been urged to introduce a Hillsborough Law and directly respond to the 2017 report, which was carried out by former Bishop of Liverpool the Rt Revd James Jones.

SKY
 
Liverpool say tragedy chanting "has to stop" after songs related to the Hillsborough disaster were sung by some Chelsea fans during Tuesday's 0-0 Premier League draw at Stamford Bridge.

Chelsea apologised and condemned the "inappropriate" chants saying "hateful chanting has no place in football".

The Premier League says such chanting is "an unacceptable issue and are seeking to address it as a priority".

This season has seen a rise in tragedy chanting.

Manchester City said they were "disappointed" by "inappropriate chants" by their fans during Saturday's 4-1 win over Liverpool.

Last month, Liverpool and Manchester United managers Jurgen Klopp and Erik ten Hag called for an end to tragedy chanting in a joint statement before the two sides met.

In November, the Football Association expressed concerns over the rise of "abhorrent chants" related to stadium tragedies - including by fans of City and United on visits to Anfield.

In February, Manchester United and Leeds United "strongly condemned" chants about historic tragedies when they met at Elland Road.

"We know the impact these vile chants have on those who continue to suffer as a result of football tragedies," Liverpool said in a statement after Tuesday's game.

"For their sake, this has to stop."

Ninety-seven Liverpool fans lost their lives as a result of a crush at an FA Cup semi-final against Nottingham Forest, at Sheffield Wednesday's Hillsborough stadium, on 15 April 1989.

It remains the UK's worst sporting disaster, with a jury at an inquest later ruling that the fans were unlawfully killed.

The Blues said: "Chelsea condemns the inappropriate chants heard from some home fans during this evening's game. Hateful chanting has no place in football and we apologise to anyone who has been offended by them."

The league added: "The Premier League condemns the tragedy chanting heard at tonight's match between Chelsea and Liverpool. We continue to treat this as an unacceptable issue and are seeking to address it as a priority."

BBC
 
Sunday's minute's silence at Anfield, to remember the 97 Liverpool fans killed at Hillsborough, was "the most respectful" Jurgen Klopp has witnessed.

The Liverpool manager praised the Arsenal fans for their "touching" tribute prior to the 2-2 draw.

Saturday, 15 April marks 34 years since the UK's worst sporting disaster.

The Liverpool fans died following a crush at Sheffield Wednesday's stadium before an FA Cup semi-final against Nottingham Forest in 1989.

An inquest into the disaster ruled the fans had been unlawfully killed.

On Saturday, Klopp and Liverpool club captain Jordan Henderson will pay tribute to the 97 at Anfield.

"It was probably the most respectful minute of silence I have ever witnessed," Klopp said of the scenes at Liverpool's stadium.

"There was absolutely no noise apart from a little baby. That you could hear the baby showed how silent it was."

This season has seen a rise in tragedy chanting and the Premier League is seeking to address the "unacceptable issue" as a priority.

Earlier in April, Liverpool said it "has to stop" after songs related to the Hillsborough disaster were sung by some Chelsea fans during their 0-0 draw at Stamford Bridge.

In November, the Football Association expressed concerns over the rise of "abhorrent chants", while in February, Manchester United and Leeds United "strongly condemned" chants about historic tragedies when they met at Elland Road.

"I have no explanation [for the chants]," said Klopp. "Football supporters can be a really mean group.

"If you find a weak point in somebody, you just put your finger in it. A lot of groups, football supporters, are guilty of that. Not only in football but sports in general."

BBC
 
Saturday is 15 April and so for Louise Brookes it will be a time for poignant reflection. She will visit her local cemetery in Bromsgrove before returning home to light a candle and raise a glass, all in memory of her brother Andrew, one of the 97 people who lost their life as a consequence of the Hillsborough disaster exactly 34 years ago.

The anniversary has been this way for Brookes since Anfield stopped hosting an annual memorial service for those who never made it back from Liverpool’s 1989 FA Cup semi-final against Nottingham Forest and she prefers it as such given it means mourning in a quieter, more intimate way a loved one lost far too soon. As Brookes says: “People should be able to remember those who died however they want. And it’s nice to remember them as individuals, because that’s what they were – individual people.”

That much is true and for Brookes, Andrew will for ever be the 26-year-old lover of music and fashion who was strict on her but only because he cared. He was also the spitting image of Bruce Grobbelaar, and Brookes is able to talk about all of that with great warmth and humour. But as is the case for all bereaved family members and survivors of the crush on the Leppings Lane terrace, she also exists in a permanent state of trauma, the events of that fateful day in Sheffield and everything that came after, namely the gruelling fight for justice and total lack of accountability for those responsible, leaving a scar on the heart that will never heal.

And it has only deepened because of what the journalist Tony Evans describes as the “banterfication” of Hillsborough, a growing trend carried out by callous people in the disingenuous guise of football rivalry. And nowhere is it more prevalent and relentless than online. On various social media platforms, Twitter especially, there is little escape from the vile bile, something Brookes knows all too well. “The trolling has been getting progressively worse in the last 10 years or so and especially since the 2016 unlawfully killed verdicts,” she says. “There are certain people who wanted to believe the lies about Hillsborough were true because of their hatred of Liverpool fans and when they could no longer do that, they became even more cruel.

“How dare these people get away with saying disgusting things about those who died at Hillsborough, like my brother. They did nothing wrong that day. You then have the survivors who are still traumatised by what happened, so seeing all this stuff online is a real danger to their mental wellbeing. Some survivors have taken their own life because of the wicked comments they’ve seen online. If anyone takes their own life because of a troll, that troll should be tried for manslaughter.”

Fuelled by such deep anger, and driven on by a defiance that played its part in the collective pursuit of truth over Hillsborough, Brookes has taken on those who mock the disaster and through her efforts two men have been prosecuted in court; one in July 2016 for wearing an offensive T-shirt regarding Hillsborough, a photograph of which appeared on social media and for which he was fined £600, and another in October 2021 in connection with a social media post that linked Hillsborough to the chaos at Wembley before the final of Euro 2020, for which he was fined £400 and made to pay £125 in costs.

On Thursday, another man – Zakir Hussain, 28, of no fixed abode – appeared at Thames magistrates court accused of sending malicious messages to Brookes via Twitter, including one containing a threat to deface Andrew’s grave. Hussain pleaded not guilty to one of the five charges against him and was released on bail. A trial is scheduled to take place at Stratford magistrates court on 22 June.

Brookes is proud of her stance in the fight against trolls but there is also despair at the toll it has taken. “I’ve argued with these people from first thing in the morning until last thing at night and it consumes you,” she says. “My mental health has deteriorated as a result, especially in regards to depression and anxiety. I’ve had panic attacks and it got to a stage where I wanted to take my own life. I don’t say that easily but I began to dread waking up each morning because I didn’t know what I was going to see online. I’d had enough.”

Read more at:

https://www.theguardian.com/footbal...e-tragedy-chanting-liverpool?CMP=share_btn_tw
 
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