Hillsborough: The players view

Quotes from Liverpool players at the time of the disaster:

John Aldridge: ‘œWhenever I think of Hillsborough I am drawn to the story of young Lee Nicol from Bootle. Lee was fourteen but looked about ten. He reminded me of my son, Paul. Lee was in the middle of the crush at Leppings Lane but was still alive when he was pulled out. I went to see him in hospital. He looked a lovely kid. As he lay there in a coma, I whispered words into his ears. I asked the doctor about his chances of recovery. ‘˜He’s clinically dead, John,’ he said. I hadn’t realised how badly he was injured. That news ripped into me. My heart went out to Lee’s family, decent people who didn’t deserve to be victims of such a tragedy.’

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Kenny Dalglish: “One morning, before everyone was in, I went out on to the pitch and tied my children’s teddy bears around a goalpost at the Kop end. The goals, the pitch and the whole Kop were covered in flowers, scarves and tributes. I remember describing it as the ‘˜saddest and most beautiful sight’ I had ever seen. It really was like that. It was sad because of the reason whey the tributes were there, but it was magnificent to see them. On the Friday night, after everybody had gone, I walked through the Kop with Kelly, Paul and Marina’s dad, Pat. Paul looked at all the tributes, the flowers, the scarves and said: ‘˜Why did it have to happen to us?’ Kelly, Paul and I stood at the back of the Kop with tears falling down our faces. Walking through the Kop was so emotional. A lot of tributes had been left by people in the place where their loved one had stood. People who had lost the person they stood next to to watch games would leave something special in remembrance. Seeing two oranges left beside one of the barriers really moved me. It was difficult not to weep on coming across little tributes like that. They were so insignificant and yet so full of meaning. Perhaps the two people took it in turn to bring oranges to matches, something to share at half-time. That really got to me. I wondered whether the person who laid the oranges ever returned to the Kop. I came across somebody’s boots, left there by his mourning family. Everywhere I walked there were endless messages, each of which embodied someone else’s grief. It was so difficult to pass through.

‘œThe shameful allegations intensified the anger amidst the trauma. We spent the week consoling the bereaved and attending funerals. On the Saturday we held a service at Anfield. At six minutes past three there was a minute’s silence across the country. Then everyone at Anfield sang ‘˜You’ll Never Walk Alone.’ We tied scarves between Anfield and Goodison. We just wanted to show the unity existing on Merseyside. The following day, there was a final service on the pitch. It was really quiet, just the wind rustling the scarves tied to the crossbar. When somebody shouted out ‘˜We all loved you,’ we all broke down.’

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Alan Hansen: “I have heard people say that they should now ‘˜let it go’ and ‘˜get on with their lives’, a view that stems partly from the massive changes that have taken place in English football as a result of Hillsborough. But for the tragedy, and the Taylor Report in January 1990, which enforced the transformation of British football grounds into all-seat stadiums, it is possible that the long history of stadium neglect, and spectators treated as turnstile fodder, would have continued. The new-style British club stadiums, which are among the most impressive in the world for safety standards and facilities, have made it easier for clubs to be better run, and therefore improve the quality of their football. However, though a great deal of water has passed under the bridge since Hillsborough, my attitude to those who feel that the HFSG should now forget its grievances is, ‘˜It’s easy for you to talk ‘“ you didn’t loose anyone.’

‘œHad I lost someone, I would never have let it go.’

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John Barnes: ‘œThe tributes were not just at Anfield. I walked into Stanley Park and saw all the Everton scarves tied together. They stretched from Goodison Park to Anfield, a symbol of the unity between the two clubs. All football fans were united in their grief. Even those from Manchester United sent gestures of sympathy. Every fan had reason to mourn.’

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