Thursday, 26 May 2016

Hillsborough: An Indelible Change but life goes on....

You know it's coming. You know, or hope, that it's "good". You know it'll change your life, a life that has a thousand and one other things happening in it AND most importantly you know that you're lucky to be living it. 

I tried to close the Hillsborough chapter of my life decades ago. I couldn't. Not only were the lies overflowing but I was here. 95 others who'd done the same as me that day had perished. Another was being kept "alive" until any hope passed and there were 96.  Why the fuck was I here!?

Fast forward 27 years (and a bit).  I've lived my life from 28 years of age. 29 a week and a day later.  We subsequently had two additional children and three grandchildren who exist because I "survived". 

The family and friends of the 96 missed out on their future experiences with their loved ones and the additions that may have ensued due to the fact that they didn't survive. They were unlawfully killed. 

Now I knew that on 15.04.1989. I was there. In with those who never made it. Shoulder to shoulder. Many others did too. Many others who not only lied but forced others to lie too before suppressing the TRUTH they knew. Their fate awaits them. 

I'm not talking about 1989 here. I'm talking about now, this minute. The minute you're reading this which as I write has not yet arrived. 

Exactly a month ago the jury announced their verdict on an inquest that took place over two years into a tragedy that happened 27 years ago.  14 counts to nil it was unlawful killing. (Mentioned earlier but it's worth repeating!) 

I was in the last week of my job, an emotional time by any standards if you cared for the people you worked with, but made massively more emotional by the verdict. I was in bits to be fair.  I fist pumped when they finally said that we, the fans that day, were not to blame. At the risk of repeating myself I and others knew this and had for over 27 years. 

Sitting at Hillsborough Oaks when the verdicts were being delivered, supported by my wife Karen, was the right thing to do; the right place to be.  

Later that night, I think, I went missing apparently although I somehow arrived home. 

Then it was on to the vigil. St George's Hall. Another time filled with emotion and support from friends & family. I guess it was a celebration that finally the world knew the truth and the fans, including those lost, were vindicated.  I struggled despite the close attention of Kate, Sofie, Garry & Wilf. 

Meanwhile I was tired. In my own way I had fought this fight for nearly half of my life. The families were never alone. Those of us who'd been there and experienced the horrors were with them all the way. 

Onto my last day in my job. All neatly handed over - not.  Remember this is now not 27 years ago but I'm hoping that you're getting my drift Hillsborough is my now just as it was then. 

 We had a ball in Ma's before I departed for a She Drew The Gun gig.  I didn't make the end. I was mentally and physically exhausted. I got a taxi home. 

It was the weekend and a new start and a new job beckoned. I was starting on the Tuesday, Monday being bank holiday.  Rather than a new start a new life appeared. Welcome to the world Ollie. 9lb 7oz not 9 6 as I'd predicted!  

My first day at work lasted about 3 minutes. Happy, tired, emotional you name it. I was it!  Fortunately I'd found colleagues as nice as those I'd left behind and certainly an individual who had 'got' me from the interview and understood. 

Moving on. At the weekend we had the 5k for the 96 which followed the magnificent achievement of some very special people in running from Hillsborough to Anfield.  The second run for the 96 was more emotion, time to reflect and enjoy many friendships that would not have happened had 'Hillsborough' not happened. It's a massive indelible part of my everyday life and it always will be. But life doesn't revolve around it, it's just there. I need people to get that. 

You never know when the moment will come that will change your life. You never know when the moment will come that will change your day. For better or for worse. 

This morning at 8:20 I got a text. It simply said "hugs".   

Monday, 2 May 2016

Hillsborough 27 Years Truth & Justice. Still there are disbelievers.....

Somehow, like when these two photographs were taken, I'm suppressing my emotions. No crying - being strong. This was my 29th birthday. St George's day 1989.  8 days earlier I'd climbed out of the Leppings Lane terrace and helped as many others as I could. I'd seen things that are unimaginable. 

My mum & dad were so relieved that I came home as were Karen, Kate, Michelle and my brother Garry but 27 years on, even after the results of the inquest, there are still people spouting shit and trying to lay blame on us survivors and the 96 who perished. 

I'd ask them to look beyond the smiles in these photographs and look into my eyes. There's so much hidden behind those blackened eyes (not through injury I hasten to add) but trying to come to terms with that day. 

The Taylor Report got it right. The Hillsborough Documentary, 20 years ago, got it right.  The recently concluded inquests and those amazing jurors who gave service for two years got it right. 

The South Yorkshire Police got it badly wrong that day. Sheffield Wednesday had been getting it wrong for years totally disregarding the safety of fans - this disaster could have happened years earlier and on more than one occasion. 

The FA even after LFC's brilliant club secretary Peter Robinson had warned them that they were making a mistake got it wrong. 

Then the media, who were present on the day and witnessed what actually happened, got it wrong in varying degrees. Fuelled by lies being concocted whilst I was still trying to help fellow supporters out of the crush they published those lies. Most famously The Scum but I can also remember a column by some old fart in the Daily Mail lambasting the Liverpool fans for causing the disaster. 

Then of course we come to Thatcher and the establishment. They thought they'd gotten it very right. They thought they were bigger and stronger than the city I was born in. They thought that they could walk all over the families by covering up the truth, hiding away the evidence and trying to turn the nation on THAT city that wouldn't let it go. Piss off and grieve and move on. How wrong could they get it. How wrong are some still getting it? 

The City of Liverpool - we got it right. Truth and Justice for the 96 IS RIGHT. That me and my fellow supporters were victims of gross incompetence and then evil lies IS RIGHT.