The Old Market Square fell silent at 3:06 today to commemorate the 25th anniversary of the Hillsborough disaster.
The incident took place on 15th April 1989, as the FA Cup Semi-Final between Nottingham forest and Liverpool, was being held at the Sheffield Wednesday ground. 25000 people travelled to the fateful match and were forced into the stands, after which 96 Liverpool fans lost their lives as the barrier designed to prevent crushing in the terraces collapsed.
With 766 injured, the Hillsborough disaster is regarded as one of the world’s worst football disasters. 300 fans who sustained injuries required hospital treatment, and of those who died, 79 were aged 30 or younger. The youngest victim, 10 year old Jon-Paul Gilhooley, is the cousin of the future prolific Liverpool F.C. captain Steven Gerrard.
Ashley Banks, a season ticket holder for Liverpool at the time of the disaster knew the stand was it was dangerous “Previous crushing incidents put me many off going to the game, and the authorities knew of the dangers.” The incident has since been blamed primarily on the police for letting too many people enter the stadium. Crushing was caused due to over-capacitating the stands. Moments after kick-off, a crush barrier broken and fans began to fall on top of each other.
After the disaster, thousands of fans visited the stadium to fill it with flowers, scarves and other tributes. A disaster appeal fund was set up, receiving donations reaching nearly £12 million by the time the appeal closed the following year. The money has since gone to the victims and relatives involved in the disaster, and provided funds for a college course to improve the hospital phase of emergency care.
Lord Mayor, Councillor Merlita Bryan read a speech from the council steps at 3 o clock, with the Sheriff of Nottingham, Councillor Ian Malcolm, also in attendance introducing the Book of Condolences that has been opened for the public to leave their messages. Attendees were encouraged to wear the shirts and scarves of the teams they support to promote the renewed unity of football since the disaster.
This year’s commemorations are especially poignant as a fresh inquest into the disaster got underway at the end of March, after the findings of previous investigations and inquests have proven to be inadequate. The IPCC have also made a renewed call for witnesses to assist with the new inquiry, which is the first to look into the need for criminal prosecutions for those at fault.