The Hillsborough Disaster
15th April 1989

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The Hillsborough Disaster

The match was abandoned after 7 minutes when the scale of the problem finally became apparent to the referee and players.


Football can arouse great passion amongst its supporters - and there is a long, ignoble history of that passion spilling over into violence. For many years, the English game was blighted by the activities of football hooligans who used the cover of football matches to engage in pitched battles of terrifying ferocity. Liverpool fans were generally considered to be among the most peaceable of fans until the horrible tragedy of Heysel - in which a collapsing wall killed 39 Juventus supporters following a battle between them and Liverpool fans.

The events that transpired on the occasion of the 1989 FA cup semi final between Liverpool and Nottingham Forest were, however, of an entirely different order. A series of blunders by police led to the awful deaths of 96 supporters - much of the incident playing live to horrified television viewers at home.

As if the horror suffered by the bereaved families was not enough, the police engaged in a campaign to exculpate officers from blame - and manipulated the media and official evidence to suggest that the deaths resulted not from mismanagement, but from violence and drunken behaviour on the part of the Liverpool fans. It was not until 2012 and the publication of the report by the Hillsborough Independent Panel that the full scale of police malfeasance was laid bare. It was discovered that scores of witness statements and police records had been altered to back up the police's 'official' version of events.

Many of those responsible for the events of that day went on to more senior roles with the police and as the time of writing none have faced criminal charges.

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Author: Ian Freud   |  Last updated: 28th September 2013 | © Weird Island 2010-2020
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The Hillsborough Disaster: location


Pictures of The Hillsborough Disaster




BBC live news coverage

RTE coverage

The Irish television station RTE covered the match live as the disaster unfolded

David Cameron apologises for the Hillsborough disaster

Further reading and recommended books