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Hillsborough Wednesday, 14 April, 1999, 18:57 GMT 19:57 UK
Hillsborough's sad legacy
v
Scarves of rememberance for those who died at Hillsborough
Ten years after the Hillsborough Stadium disaster of 15 April 1989, Charlie Lambert, producer of a BBC Hillsborough anniversary programme, explains why the pain it caused is still so strong.

Ten years ago the sense of anticipation was tangible as Liverpool and Nottingham Forest met for the 1989 FA Cup semi-final.

Hillsborough
It was a big occasion with huge excitement - and for the victors a trip to Wembley to savour.

It was a gorgeous, sunny day but instead of producing a great game, that semi-final turned into a day of disaster.

It would have been bad enough if just one supporter had died in the terrible crush that formed on the terraces behind the goal but the death toll from the tragedy rose to 96.

Everything has changed

Making the programme has taken me deep into the heartache of the disaster. I asked Jenni Hicks, whose two teenage daughters died, if any part of her life was the same now as pre-Hillsborough.

She replied: "I'm no longer a mother. I'm no longer a wife. I now live in Liverpool and I lived in north London at the time of Hillsborough. Everything in my life has changed."

Fans were allowed to escape from the pen when police finally realised people were dying
Fans were allowed to escape from the pen when police finally realised people were dying
I met three families who lost children, and Peter Carney, a Liverpool community worker, who survived by the skin of his teeth.

Peter is an articulate, expressive teller of his tale, a story which encompasses an out-of-body experience and a new outlook on both life and death.

"Survivors in my opinion have been discouraged from coming forward," he said.

"People say we should think ourselves lucky to be alive. Yes, we are lucky to be alive but if you knew what's gone on between my ears then 'lucky' isn't the word - definitely not."

Football's scars

I was interested in the role of football in the whole experience. "Football is a religion on Merseyside" is a comment heard often, and not always in jest.

If it is a religion, how did it stand up to the ultimate test? Pretty well, it seems. It was the football ground which people turned into a shrine rather than either of the city's cathedrals, and the football players were the ones the bereaved wanted to talk to.

Trevor Hicks
Trevor Hicks: Keeping faith
The former Liverpool captain Alan Hansen recounted how the players ensured that there was always someone available at the stadium to talk to the families - but admitted: "It ended up with the bereaved comforting the players. There wasn't a day that I didn't come in and cry my eyes out."

The disaster evoked a special kind of community mourning. People were truly united in grief. But now it is a different story.

Hillsborough is driving people apart, which is why the tragedy is, in a sense, still taking place. The Hillsborough Family Support Group has been in existence since 1989 but some of the families, frustrated at legal delays, have joined a new organisation, the Hillsborough Justice Campaign.

Fight for truth

There is little love lost between the two set-ups. The justice campaign is an up-front, pro-active organisation.

They believe that the lack of prosecutions in connection with the disaster is an example of social injustice and want to take the whole issue to the European Court of Human Rights.

Liverpool's memorial
Liverpool's memorial
The support group accuses them of having a political agenda and believes its own pursuit of private prosecutions against two senior officers in charge of policing at Hillsborough will pay dividends.

And there are divided views on the game's worth, even on the role of Liverpool FC. While the original families group still has close ties and speaks warmly of their relationship, the aggressive new campaigners from the justice campaign complain bitterly about a lack of recognition from the club.

"Liverpool won't even give us a signed football to display in our shop," complained Maureen Church, whose 19-year-old son Gary was a Hillsborough victim.

"If my son hadn't been such a big supporter we'd still have him today. They've got blood on their shirts and it's time they supported my son and all the other victims," she said.

If their faith in football has suffered, so has their faith in that other religion. "How can I still believe in God when he's let me down so badly?" asked Trevor Hicks.

Trevor's belief has survived but Jenni has since turned her back on the conventional church. Trevor and Jenni are now divorced - the marriage being another casualty of Hillsborough.


But perhaps the most regrettable factor in the entire saga is that 10 years after the event there still has not been any closure,

"Hillsborough never seemed to go away," explained Ian Broudie of the pop group the Lightning Seeds who organised a rock concert to raise funds for the families' legal fight.

"It was hard to move on when there hasn't been any sort of closure, " he said.

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
Audio
Peter Carney describes his terrifying experience
Audio
Trevor Hicks tries to keep his faith in God
Audio
Jackie and Ronnie Gilhooley speak about their 10 year-old son Jon-Paul, the youngest victim
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