On April 15, 1989, 96 Liverpool supporters died while attending an FA Cup Semifinal at Hillsborough Stadium in Sheffield.
Today marks the 22nd anniversary of the darkest day in the history of Liverpool Football Club, know simply as the Hillsborough disaster.
Although the press initially reported this as an incidence of fan rioting, it was later found to be an extraordinary case of negligence by the authorities in charge of the event. The Lord Taylor Report (commissioned by the British government) found the cause of the disaster to be poor police handling of such a large crowd. Please click on that link to learn more about this event.
At the time sections of soccer stadiums in England were standing room only. Another factor that came into play that afternoon was that there were fences around the perimeters of the field to keep the fans from coming onto the field. No one ever assumed that these fences would be a detriment to the safety of the fans in the stands.
On that fateful day the control of the flow of the crowd was poor and thousands of Liverpool supporting ticket holders were led into a pen that was severely overcrowded. The official capacity of the pen was 2,000 people; the Taylor Report estimates that over 3,000 people were shepherded into this pen by kickoff.
This led to a crush of humanity inside the pen. The fans were so tightly packed in that many of the fatalities of the day died standing up of compressive asphyxia. That’s right, they were crushed together so tight that they died standing on their feet because they couldn’t breath.
Photo removed per request.
For someone from the United States, this entire concept is difficult to grasp. It seems barbaric the way the ticket holders were treated at that time in Britain. I’ve grown up with the concept that a ticket to a sporting event entitled you to a seat.
96 dead, 766 injured, and countless lives and families ruined by the events of that day. 79 of the fatalities that day were aged 30 or younger. The oldest fatality was 67, the youngest aged 10 (a cousin of current Liverpool captain Steven Gerrard).
Rest in peace to the 96 who went to watch a soccer game that day and never came back. You’ll Never Walk Alone!