Remembering the 96..

I’m going to start this piece deeply inappropriately.  I, like many Forest fans, bloody hate Liverpool.  If I am honest, the annual discussions that crop up about the Hillsborough disaster each anniversary on Forest forums leave me somewhat cold and uncomfortable, partly due to my own ignorance, and because of the over-eagerness to apportion blame rather than just reflect on what a bloody tragedy it was.

As a mere young ‘un I wasn’t present at the semi-final in 1989, and frankly I am rather thankful for that – I know more than one fellow Forest fan who was there and still feels unable to talk about that fateful day.  I also don’t profess to have any real knowledge – nor real opinion – as to the validity of the findings of the Taylor Report.  Whilst I’m no fan of all-seater stadia, his recommendations ensured such an incident shouldn’t occur in this country again.

So whilst ‘the blame game’ leaves me unmoved, I do – however – find it incredibly upsetting to think of the fate of those ninety six people who should never have departed this world on that day, and of their families whose must still mourn that awful loss.  So irrespective of my ‘day job’ dislike of Liverpool, I’ll be taking a few moments over the course of today to think about those that were lost.

Liverpool legend Bill Shankly once said in a rather tongue-in-cheek fashion that football was much more important than life and death, of course he didn’t really mean it despite the plentiful re-quoting of the saying.  Along with other tragic events – such as recent events in Ivory Coast, or contemporary ones like the fire at Bradford, they should transcend our parochial rivalries or hatred, and we should all pause for a moment to pay our respects.

Rest in peace.

20 Responses

  1. A horrible day. I was the same age as many of the Liverpool lads who died, and watched it all unfold from the opposite end of the stadium on the heaving Kop end. A disgusting, revolting way to die which those of who followed Forest then could all too well comprehend as every away terrace we travelled to used to be rammed. Could’ve been us.

    Perhaps it’s not the best day to start your piece with ‘I hate Liverpool’; it’s irrelevant.

  2. Well put nffc.

    I was 18 when it happened, and was a home and away fan, every single week I travelled to watch Forest. But I couldnt get a ticket to this game, so didn’t go. Gutted at the time, thankful on the day.

    Sadly, many Liverpool fans decided to turn up late and ticketless and stormed through the turnstiles, putting the inadequate policing and stewarding under enormous pressure.

    Blame on all sides, sadly. Except for those poor souls who turned up on time, with a ticket to watch a football match. And the families live with that every day.


  3. 1865, I’ve just read your post.
    You’re quite right, every terrace in those days used to get rammed. It could well have happened sooner, to anyone.
    Sorry if I sound like I’m blaming LFC fans, not appropiate today of all days.

  4. I can re-live that horrible day in my head even now,20 years of age excited as hell,looking forward to what was going to be a cracking game of footie in the sunshine ………………got home to mansfield just before nine at night,numb with the images and scenes i’d witnessed before during and in the aftermath of the worst day of many peoples lives.God bless those poor unfortunate Ninety Six and the ones left behind to deal with the grief of that fateful day 15/04/1989.

  5. I just read the linked post below on the LTLF forum. I think it rather more eloquently sums up than I could ever muster, as well as recanting a harrowing account of the day.

  6. I was there that day and at the replay at OT. Hillsborough was an accident waiting to happen and anyone that has ever stood on a crowded terrace should know that it could easily have been them.

    Don’t talk about any football supporter being to blame for those deaths because they are not. Inadequate stadiums and poor policing was why it happened. The police lies and cover ups afterwards were disgusting, as was the filth printed in the Sun newspaper. If anyone wants a good insight as to what happened on the day and then in the aftermath, read this.

    RIP the 96. You’ll Never Walk Alone.

    Aylesbury Red NFFC

  7. I was also there that day and can still vividly picture arriving at 2:00, standing on the Kop and commenting that even at that time “the centre section of the Leppings Lane end looked too full”.

    Like many then, I enjoyed standing and would wish that we could do so now, but let us remember that if someone had decided to ‘swop ends’ it could have been Forest fans in the Leppings Lane end.

    I still travel to Sheffield occasionally and always think of events as I drive past the phone box which I used to call home to let my wife know that I was OK.

    This afternoon, I will be at Anfield to pay my respects to the 96 and hope that one day, someone becomes accountable for the decisions that were made and the resultant events.

    Don’t blame the Liverpool fans – they, like us, were excited and passionate about an FA Cup Semi-Final between two (at the time) great rivals. Let us hope that one day, that passionate rivalry can return on the pitch.

    RIP the 96.

  8. Tragic day, I was unable to go and I remember watching it on grandstand unfold, and it was pure madness. The next forest game I went to I was crammed into trent end, just behind the goal, and even then I could feel the pressure on my chest, and it was the first time I realised how bloody dangerous the stands were. Couldn’t really watch the game as I just thought of how disgusting their death was. I have no qualms about saying I don’t like LFC as a team but as individuals, I respect all scousers, my thoughts are with them on this awful day. May the families find some peace.

  9. To add to point above, I think the best memorial LFC could have given was their display last night. Truly gutted for them, ‘cos i hate CFC and their fans on a wholly different and moral level. Once again RIP to the .

  10. I was there that day and will have my own minutes silence today for those lost.

    Today is not the day to talk about blame, but I have always felt strongly about what happened that day.
    I will say two things about it.
    There many Forest fans, me included, who saw what happened outside the ground that day – Brian Clough was right! and why do we not focus as much on what happened at Heysel.

  11. I was standing at the game with a friend watching the events unfold, events that will never ever be forgotten. It’s amazing that in this small country, that is looked up to by the rest of the World, that tragedies like this have to happen before any action is taken. Its not about blame, the issue is responsibility & the sooner people who are grossly overpaid and over rated learn that the better. This could and should have all been prevented long before.

    My son was born 17 years ago today & is now at the age that some of those innocent victims were at the time, I don’t think that anyone can imagine the pain & heartache that those families are still going through today.

    I’ll be having my own few minutes silence today & I sincerely hope that these events will never be repeated. RIP 96

  12. before my time but still R.I.P to all the 96 fans that died.

  13. Stayed with some friends on Leppings Lane,On Friday night. As I left them about 1.30ish to go to the ground at the Spion Kop End, the whole area of Leppings Lane was a sea of Liverpool fans. I managed to speak to a few of them as they could see my colours. It seemed that the vast majority had no tickets, and seemed the worst for drink. I remember thinking how the hell they were all going to get through the one entrance, with only 8 turnstiles.
    I took my place to the right of the goal, near to the corner flag, and watched in utter disbielief at the unfolding events. I could almost reach through the barriers and touch the bodies of young boys and girls lying on advertising hordings. This shouldn”t be happening I thought, it”s only a football match. It seemed to me that it was one of those days when numerous people made mistakes, culminating in 96 folks losing there lives.
    My heart goes out to the families of those who lost loved ones, in all the tragedies involved in football over the years. I hope that the liverpool fans remember that 25,000 Forest fans saw what happened that spring afternoon, and i don”t doubt that the memories will stay with them forever.

  14. I was there in one of the closest sections to Leppings Lane. Things were obviously crowded as the game kicked off, but then to compound the problem, John Barnes headed against the crossbar which caused more of a surge from the fans who could not yet see the pitch.

    As fans started climbing the fence the first thought was a pitch invasion was starting, but very quickly it was obvious that was not the case as the upper tier started pulling fans out from above.

    As fans were carried away on the billboards, we would see the stewards/medical staff vainly trying to resuscitate them. Those that did start moving received a few cheers (if that is the right word)!

    As we were leaving the ground, there was one Forest Fan who made me ashamed to be human – he was shouting that “they were only scousers”. He was lucky to not get lynched by everyone else.

    I think back to the number of times I have stood to watch some huge matches, in very tight circumstances (Holt end at Villa when we beat West Ham 4-0 in the FA Cup Semi Final in ’91) and the realisation that it could have been my family losing someone for the sake of a football match.

    Let’s never forget.

  15. I was there, and I was there the year before too. Hard to believe the difference in policing levels. 1988 you couldn’t move for police, hundreds of yards before the ground we were filtered into coned lanes and there was no way anything could have happened. A year later and a totally different story. I remember at the time commenting to a mate as we walked to the ground that I couldn’t believe the difference. I saw two coppers that day a bloke on horseback and a female. That was it. No cones and mayhem at the Spion Kop end turnstiles. We managed to fight our way through with our tickets and got in. Minutes later there was a massive surge and I was pinned up against one of the concrete supports. My arms were by my sides and I couldn’t get them up to protect myself. Fortunately as I started to panic because I couldn’t breathe some hands from the next level grabbed me and pulled me out of it. We found a place to stand and were met by a mate who had gone up without a ticket. He said the gates had been opened as fans piled in to the area and obviously the police fearing a crush had opened them hence the surge where I was in the walkway. Goodness knows what would have happened if it had been as tight as the other end of the ground.

    As we all know now things were far worse at the Leppings Lane end where people were almost certainly already dying. The rest is history. We went mad as Liverpool fans invaded the pitch and there were plenty of chants about scumbag scousers ruining our chance of glory again as they ran onto the pitch and started ripping up the advertising hoardings. As soon as they started ferrying bodies down to our end of the pitch though the whole place was silent apart from one fool who was obviously drunk and kept shouting obscenities. He was quickly shut up.

    Football rivalry even in the heat of the game is nothing more than banter. Anyone who takes it more seriosly than that is a fool. I have no axe to grind with anyone apart from the authorities about that day and my thoughts are with the 96 families who have to live with this. Rest in Peace.

  16. I was there and to be honest until today it has never really affected me. I was 16 and stood at least two thirds back on the kop. I have always believed that if only fans with tickets had turned up then there would not have been a disaster. Today however reading the stories in the Independent I am not so sure. I must also admit to feeling a different today, I also got a an email from one of the four who went with me. And a phone call from another. I have not spoken to either of them for more than five years!!! Must be getting older and / or softer. What I do remember is what a great day it was up until six minutes past five. Sunny, on the motorway it was three lanes of Forest fans, beers and singing before the game. I think all forest fans felt we could have won that day. Also I don’t remember John Barnes hitting the bar, I remember Beardsley chipping and hitting the bar, but also the ball breaking to Nigel and him being through with the Zimbabwe cheater running out of his goal and the ref stopping the game……….
    Like you NFFC I don’t like scousers, but today I must say RIP to all 96.

  17. Just back from Anfield. Why oh why did the Labour party try to make it a political occasion by asking Andy Burnham to say something!!??

    Spoke to some Liverpool fans who were also at Hillsborough and who genuinely said “hope you stay up this year and it would be great to see you back in the Premiership where you belong”.

    I left my scarf by the ‘eternal flame’ and I’m emotionally drained – still, at least I can come home.

    RIP the 96.

  18. I was there too and the other comments say it all.
    We will never forget it. My deepest sympathy for the bereaved famillies.

  19. […] April – in April I barely wrote anything!  There were two things that stand out for me this month, the first of which was that winning goal by Dexter Blackstock against Bristol City.  I spoke earlier of catalysts – well this sure was one.  The other thing April saw was the twentieth anniversary of the Hillsborough disaster. […]

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