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20 years ago today - the Hillsborough disaster - The Ex-Communicator

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April 15th, 2009


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04:52 pm - 20 years ago today - the Hillsborough disaster
Hillsborough survivor testimonies in the Observer worth a read

I had been in tight crowds before, but this was different. A silence was falling over the people around me. Some were hyperventilating, others were fainting. I was starting to panic now, but I was stuck. The pressure was tightening like a vice. My eyes began searching for police, or stewards, but no one was coming. Slowly, my legs, my backside, my arms and finally my chest went numb. One ear was folded in against my cheekbone by the head of a man to my right. I could move my head, my eyes and my mouth, and no more. My right foot seemed to move involuntarily, until I realised it wasn't on the ground but planted on the calf of a man in front of me. I had never felt anything like this before: not on the Kop, not at Wembley. And it was about to get worse.


It's very vividly written.

It was then that I caught the eye of a policeman just the other side of the fence. It was an unmistakable, meaningful moment: because for four or five seconds, across the heads of scores of people, we looked each other in the eye. I lost him when I mouthed the words, "Help us." He smiled to himself and shook his head at me, and walked on, a little uncertainly.

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Comments:


[User Picture]
From:lexica510
Date:April 15th, 2009 04:47 pm (UTC)
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The book The Unthinkable: Who Survives When Disaster Strikes — and Why by Amanda Ripley discusses this kind of thing. Fascinating. And scary — it takes very little pressure indeed to stop one from breathing.
[User Picture]
From:communicator
Date:April 15th, 2009 05:03 pm (UTC)
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The impression I get is that there was a big element of chance - though I think a lot of girls died, probably because their muscles were te least able to push back.
[User Picture]
From:lamentables
Date:April 15th, 2009 04:52 pm (UTC)
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Of course I know it happened. I remember where I was when I heard it being reported on the radio. But mostly I haven't paid much attention because (in my mind) it's a football thing and I have no interest in football.
I went and read that article though and I'm glad I did.

Edited at 2009-04-15 04:52 pm (UTC)
[User Picture]
From:communicator
Date:April 15th, 2009 05:06 pm (UTC)
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I guess we've all been in crushing crowds and it's extremely unpleasant, so you can identify.
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From:altariel
Date:April 15th, 2009 05:26 pm (UTC)
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I remember this happening very distinctly: my brother was watching the match on TV and called me in because something strange was happening. One of my circle of friends at sixth-form college was there, and told me about it the following week. I remember the moment he couldn't carry on talking and just started crying. I was way out of my depth. He was a big lad, sporty, very nice, wanted to become a policeman. We were in the same A-level history class. I wonder what happened to him.
[User Picture]
From:communicator
Date:April 15th, 2009 09:56 pm (UTC)
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I bet he's thinking about it today.
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From:katlinel
Date:April 16th, 2009 05:49 am (UTC)
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Thanks for the link. What I remember of the reports at the time is confusion as to what had actually happened, and I seem to recall that initial reports assumed that the problem was caused by violence on the part of the football fans.
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From:communicator
Date:April 16th, 2009 07:42 am (UTC)
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There were reports like that in The Sun particularly, and they still boycott it in Liverpool. I have read that in Liverpool they sell only 12,000 copies a day of The Sun, and until 1989 it was 200,000.
[User Picture]
From:snowballjane
Date:April 16th, 2009 09:45 am (UTC)
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That's true - and lots of small newsagents still won't stock it. There was a thing on TV last year where they tried to give it away for free and people wouldn't touch 'that scum'.

The strange thing for me yesterday was how many ignorant Scouser-bashing (they were drunk, they were violent) posts/comments I ran into and how much it broke me, despite a lifetime of being told that apparently my kind don't deserve crowd safety.

I don't usually miss Liverpool much, but yesterday I really wanted to be there, where people really got it and remembered things like going back into school the next week and only then knowing for sure that classmates had made it out alive. Like the lawn covered with flowers for a lost son just a few doors from our house.
[User Picture]
From:communicator
Date:April 17th, 2009 07:14 am (UTC)
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I'm sorry you've come across that sort of comment. MacKenzie should have been sacked for that front page.
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From:pinkdormouse
Date:April 16th, 2009 09:00 pm (UTC)
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We'd switched the TV on to watch either motor racing or snooker, and they just kept on showing the footage from Hillsborough, which we drove past every time we went north (and I later drove past every time I went to and from university and the places I lived in the North East).

It's still upsetting for me now, especially as one of my first home visits after I qualified was to euthenase a dog that had belonged to one of the victims (pretty much all the father had left to remind him of his son).
[User Picture]
From:communicator
Date:April 17th, 2009 07:20 am (UTC)
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Like with the Yorkshire Ripper the effects spread out over the whole of the North.

It must be very upsetting when you have to put animals down, in any circumstances. When I took my cat to the vet the other day for a dressing change I had to wait while a poorly hamster was despatched, and the vet came into the waiting room and said she would have to keep me waiting a bit longer because the little boy who owned it was very upset.

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