Thirty-two years ago, 96 supporters went to a football match and didn’t come home. They left behind friends and family members, people who spent the next three decades having to both mourn the loss of loved ones and fight for some measure of justice.
Immediately following the disaster, the crush in the stands at Sheffield’s Hillsborough stadium, police fed stories to the press citing hooliganism and drunkenness as the cause. A first coroner’s inquest would rule the 96 deaths accidental. In 1997, requests for a new inquest would be denied.
It took until 2009 before pressure from the families and friends of the victims of the disaster along with their allies forced the formation of an independent investigative panel that would confirm police efforts to shift blame for the disaster onto the fans.
In 2016, a second coroner’s inquest was held, ruling that supporters had been unlawfully killed due to grossly negligent failures by police and failures by the ambulance services. The design of Hillsborough stadium was also said to have played a role.
“This is a day when, first and foremost, we remember those who went to a football match and never came home,” said Kenny Dalglish, manager of the club on the 15th of April, 1989. “They will never be forgotten.
“But we should also think of the families and survivors who showed the rest of us how to deal with an unimaginable tragedy. By sticking together, supporting one another and standing up for what was right, they set an example which will always resonate.”
Today, while there will be no public ceremonies, the club will lay wreaths and fly flags around Anfield at half mast. A minute of silence will be observed at 3:06, when the match was halted 32 years ago. And countless others, both near and far away, will take a moment to remember and to reflect.