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Page last updated at 07:24 GMT, Wednesday, 15 April 2009 08:24 UK

Hillsborough tragedy: 20 years on

The FA Cup tie between Liverpool and Nottingham Forest was halted at 3.06pm

On 15 April 1989, 96 Liverpool supporters at the FA Cup semi-final against Nottingham Forest at Hillsborough never came home as they were crushed to death in what became England's worst football tragedy.

A special memorial service was held on Wednesday at Anfield to mark the 20th anniversary of the disaster.

Anfield remembers Hillsborough

Families of the victims, players past and present were part of the estimated 30,000 at the service which included a two-minute silence at 1506 BST - the time when the match was stopped.

Here, BBC Sport brings together the thoughts and reflections of those involved in, and touched by, a tragedy that changed the face of British football forever.

Details of the memorial service can be found on the BBC Liverpool website. Coverage will be available on BBC websites, the BBC News Channel, BBC Radio 5 Live, and BBC Radio Merseyside


Hillsborough disaster infographic

Liverpool striker John Aldridge was in the starting XI and watched the events unfold.

John Aldridge was in the Liverpool team

"We went to the players' lounge and we had BBC One on.

"John Motson was doing the commentating and he said there were 30-odd dead - we couldn't believe it," he told a special BBC Football Focus programme last Saturday.

"We then got on the bus and heard that the number was about 60 or so.

"I got home and didn't know what to do. Then me and my wife watched the news.

"That was it. We just broke down. That's when it hit home. You can't put into words."

Grobbelaar remembers the screams

Bruce Grobbelaar , Liverpool's goalkeeper that day, witnessed the events unfurl just yards from where he was standing.

"I, for one, was closest to the paddock and I noticed when the game started...people were asking me to try and help them because their faces were right up against the fence," he said.

"I asked the person at the gate to open and release the pressure. When the ball went out again I ran to the referee.

"Everyone was in shock for many days and hours afterwards - we were in a complete daze.

"From that day until now nobody has been put up and said it's your fault. Someone is out there who was guilty."

Gerrard on how the tragedy affected him

A cousin of current Liverpool midfielder Steven Gerrard - Jon-Paul Gilhooley aged 10 - was one of the 96 who died on the Leppings Lane terraces.

"It was difficult knowing one of your cousins had lost his life," the 28-year-old England international said.

"Seeing his family's reaction drove me on to become the player I am today."


BBC commentator Steve Wilson was at the match as a supporter and went back to Hillsborough as part of the Football Focus tribute.

"I was 21 in April 1989 - older than many of those who died," he said last week in his blog.


"In the 20 years since, I have been blessed with a happy marriage, three children and a fulfilling career.

"What might the 96 have done in that time? What love affairs have never been, what friendships never forged, what children never conceived?

"The game has changed, and some say not completely for the better.

"But if you are lucky enough to be able to take your children to a match and sit in safety; to be treated with respect by those who police our grounds and to get home again without being crushed or scared, give those 96 a thought."

Hansen's 'bad emotions'

Many of the survivors and bereaved families are still waiting for those responsible for the events 20 years ago to be brought to justice.

An official inquiry, conducted by Lord Justice Taylor, blamed poor policing and inadequate facilities. But no-one has ever been successfully prosecuted for the tragedy.

"There's a lot of people who were in my situation who can't even talk about it," survivor Damian Kavanagh told BBC News. "I think it's important that the truth is told."

"It's hard to go through it over again but it has to be done so people understand what really happened."

Text accounts: Shock waves of a tragedy


Prime Minister Gordon Brown said the coverage of the day's tragic events in some newspapers at the time had left some deep wounds for the club and city.

"People will never forget that day - it's etched on our memories," he told Liverpool TV.

"That's probably what matters most - that people understood that the behaviour of Liverpool fans in helping each other was magnificent.

"That it was wrong for people to blame, as some did, Liverpool fans on that day. People have learned first of all not to rush to instant judgments. Some of the people who did rush to instant judgments have been proven wrong.

"Let's never forget the fans who cruelly lost their lives on a day when we know the people of Liverpool were trying to help each other."

David Moyes, manager of Liverpool's bitter local rivals Everton, said the tragedy united a city normally divided by football passions.

"It could have been any football club, it just turned out to be Liverpool. That situation then could have happened to anyone at that time," said Moyes.

"It is something that hopefully we will never see again.

"And for all the rivalry we have got between each other, blue and red in this city, it is only a game we play and you go to matches wearing your colours.

"I remember doing that with my dad as a young boy, a lot of parents take their children to games. But that time they did not come home, and that is something that should never have been allowed to happen.

"Let's just hope that it never does again. And in some way I hope for the people who have lost loved ones and had their time grieving, that the memorial service at Anfield will make it a little bit easier for them."

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see also
Fans remember Hillsborough dead
15 Apr 09 |  England
Gerrard pays Hillsborough tribute
11 Apr 09 |  Liverpool
Hillsborough remembered - Des Lynam
11 Apr 09 |  Football Focus
Lord Triesman on Hillsborough legacy
11 Apr 09 |  Football Focus
Benitez pays Hillsborough tribute
13 Apr 09 |  Liverpool
Shock waves of a tragedy
14 Apr 09 |  Magazine

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