Belfast Telegraph

Friday 26 December 2014

Liverpool remembers Hillsborough disaster victims

The trivial matters of football both on and off the pitch at Liverpool will today be set to one side as the city takes time to remember the 96 fans who died at Hillsborough, 21 years ago.

On April 15, 1989 around 20,000 Liverpool fans travelled to Sheffield Wednesday’s stadium in the hope of seeing their team march to another FA Cup final.

Not all of them returned.

The harrowing pictures of that fateful day are still fresh in the memory of anyone who saw them, and today the entire city will come to a stand-still.

Football as a whole has changed so much since those days, and the Hillsborough disaster was a watershed in helping the sport move into a modern era where supporters weren’t treated like every one was a potential hooligan, penned in to unsafe, crumbling terracing.

Now, all-seater stadia are the norm, but the sacrifice was huge. Even now, people who were there find it difficult to even speak about the events of that day.

Liverpool legend John Aldridge (above) was one of many players who took to personally helping in whatever way he could, and those horrible memories remain vivid.

The former Republic of Ireland international recalls a moment he went to visit, in hospital, one of the 96 who would lose their life.

“I told the lad who I was and said when he came round I would take him to Anfield and give him a shirt and we’d have a great day,” he said. “Afterwards, I asked the doctor when the lad might come out of his coma. He said they were switching off his life support that afternoon. It absolutely ripped my insides out.”

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