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Hillsborough: 29 Years On

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It is our day to come together, to mourn, and hold each other as supporters close.

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A Vigil Is Held For The 96 Victims Of Hillsborough Photo by Christopher Furlong/Getty Images

How do you start a proper reflection on a tragic event that so shaped something you love? A particular thread into the story of a city and a club, that never should’ve been there in the first place?

As an American fan, I can only attempt to grasp what being a Liverpool fan, or a Liverpool citizen, meant that day and the days following. As an 80’s baby millennial, I can only learn and support those who were cognizant. In so many ways, it’s not my disaster - or it shouldn’t be. I was born in the end of ‘88, I was hardly 4 months old when the disaster happened, on the other side of the world. I didn’t become a fan of Liverpool until 2010, by choice.

That’s the thing, so many of those fans, those 96 dear hearts that went to that game and didn’t come home, or the countless others that came home forever scarred - it wasn’t a choice for them. Liverpool was their blood, their family, their heritage. Supporting this club was a foregone conclusion, a birthright. It just was.

Fans that went to a game with hardly a care except for the team sheet and going forward in the FA Cup. Planning their routes home from Sheffield. Hoping for a goal or two, some drinks and laughs with their mates.

Fans failed by systems meant to keep them safe. Failed by a police chief, frozen by his own fear of the events unfolding in front of him, fueled by his own inexperience. Failed by a government that believed the lies that same police chief sowed in an attempt to cover his own fear. Lies believed and fed by a tabloid with nothing better to do than try to slanderously sell papers and ruin lives in the process. Lies threaded into a government led by casual cruelty and a complete misunderstanding of the machinations of the country north of London.

29 years is a long time to live with this kind of pain. Any length of time, really, because the events that unfolded that day should’ve never happened at all. They’ve been examined, so many times, in attempts to find the place where it went wrong. The club have a dedicated website with regarding the victims and inquests. The Hillsborough Family Support Group website had a comprehensive account of the events of that day, and the fight immediately following. Books have been written, stories of how the club supported families, players and managers taking turns attending funerals. Documentaries were made, in particular ESPN’s 30 For 30 series featured a piece on Hillsborough, chronicling the day and the setbacks and victories in trying to clear lost loved ones from vilification.

A fight no one wanted, no one should’ve had to take up, thrust upon grieving families.

Their fight was won, with all 96 counts of accidental death overturned into unlawful killing, and justice has turned to prosecuting the police chiefs responsible. Those investigations are ongoing, and seeing as they are criminal, public comment is discouraged. While justice will not bring these fans back, it is a breath of fresh air for families and supporters worldwide, knowing they were finally heard. It is not vengeance. It is responsibility, accountability, to keep it from ever happening again. Even as justice has been done, that does not mean we move on entirely.

The victims of Hillsborough had their lives taken from them, while they did nothing but try to enjoy something that they loved. Sunshine, football, loved ones. We will never forget them. We honor them, with flames and 96 on every Liverpool kit. We mourn them, today and yesterday and tomorrow. We play for them, just as Steven Gerrard did every day for his cousin. They are with us, all of us, all over the world.

They had names.

Now, and tomorrow, they have justice.

1. John Alfred Anderson­ (62)
2. Colin­ Mark Ashcroft (19)
3. James­ Gary Aspinall (18)
4. Kester­ Roger Marcus Ball­ (16)
5. Gerard­ Bernard Patrick Baron­ (67)
6. Simon Bell (17)
7. Barry Sidney­ Bennett (26)
8. David John Benson (22)
9. David William Birtle (22)
10. Tony Bland (22)
11. Paul­ David Brady (21)
12. Andrew­ Mark­ Brookes (26
)13. Carl­ Brown­ (18)
14. David­­ Steven­ Brown (25)
15. Henry­­ Thomas Burke (47)
16. Peter­ Andrew­­ Burkett (24)
17. Paul­ William­­ Carlile (19)
18. Raymond­­ Thomas Chapman (50)
19. Gary­­ Christopher Church (19)
20. Joseph­ Clark­ (29)
21. Paul Clark­ (18)
22. Gary Collins (22)
23. Stephen­ Paul Copoc (20)
24. Tracey Elizabeth Cox (23)
25. James­ Philip Delaney (19)
26. Christopher Barry Devonside (18)
27. Christopher Edwards (29)
28. Vincent Michael Fitzsimmons (34)
29. Thomas Steven Fox (21)
30. Jon-Paul Gilhooley (10)
31. Barry Glover (27)
32. Ian Thomas Glover­ (20)
33. Derrick­ George Godwin (24)
34. Roy Harry­ Hamilton (34)
35. Philip­ Hammond (14)
36. Eric­ Hankin (33)
37. Gary Harrison­ (27)
38. Stephen Francis­ Harrison (31)
39. Peter Andrew Harrison (15)
40. David Hawley (39)
41. James Robert Hennesey (29)
42. Paul Anthony Hewitson (26)
43. Carl Darren Hewitt (17)
44. Nicholas Michael Hewitt (16)
45. Sarah Louise Hicks (19)
46. Victoria Jane Hicks (15)
47. Gordon Rodney Horn (20)
48. Arthur Horrocks (41)
49. Thomas­ Howard (39)
50. Thomas Anthony­ Howard (14)
51. Eric George­ Hughes (42)
52. Alan­ Johnston (29)
53. Christine Anne Jones (27)
54. Gary­ Philip­ Jones (18)
55. Richard­ Jones­ (25)
56. Nicholas Peter­ Joynes­ (27)
57. Anthony Peter­ Kelly­ (29)
58. Michael David­ Kelly (38)
59. Carl David Lewis (18)
60. David William Mather (19)
61. Brian Christopher Mathews (38)
62. Francis Joseph McAllister (27)
63. John McBrien (18)
64. Marion Hazel McCabe (21)
65. Joseph Daniel McCarthy (21)
66. Peter McDonnell (21)
67. Alan McGlone (28)
68. Keith McGrath (17)
69. Paul­ Brian­ Murray (14)
70. Lee­ Nicol (14)
71. Stephen Francis­ O’Neill­ (17)
72. Jonathon­ Owens (18)
73. William Roy­ Pemberton (23)
74. Carl­ William Rimmer­­ (21)
75. David­ George Rimmer­ (38)
76. Graham John­ Roberts­ (24)
77. Steven Joseph­ Robinson­ (17)
78. Henry Charles­ Rogers (17)
79. Colin­ Andrew Hugh­ William Sefton­ (23)
80. Inger Shah­ (38)
81. Paula Ann Smith (26)
82. Adam­ Edward Spearritt (14)
83. Philip­ John Steele (15)
84. David Leonard­ Thomas (23)
85. Patrik­ John Thompson­ (35)
86. Peter Reuben Thompson (30)
87. Stuart Paul William Thompson (17)
88. Peter Francis Tootle (21)
89. Christopher James Traynor (26)
90. Martin Kevin Traynor (16)
91. Kevin Tyrrell (15)
92. Colin Wafer (19)
93. Ian David Whelan (19)
94. Martin Kenneth Wild (29)
95. Kevin Daniel Williams (15)
96. Graham John Wright (17)