FA Cup quarter-final day and Liverpool, under Kenny Dalglish, put four past Brentford without reply to go through to their seventeenth FA Cup semi-final – a tie against the strong opposition of Nottingham Forest at Sheffield Wednesday’s Hillsborough stadium. Little did they know that the semi-final would turn out to be football’s most tragic day ever.
Liverpool were going strong in the league, very close to catching up with top of the table Arsenal. Impressive victories over Wednesday and Milwall eventually saw Liverpool back where they belonged – at the top of the table.
Cup semi-final day loomed as the Reds would battle with Forest for the right to play Everton in the final of the cup. The script was written for LFC to win and go through to meet their local rivals in the final.
April 15th 1989 – football’s lowest day as 97 Liverpool supporters lost their lives in front of the watching (in shock) world. The match started as normal, it would seem to a viewer in another stand or watching television but in the Leppings Lane end of the stadium there was confusion. As thousands of supporters were crammed into the terraced stand. Six minutes into the game, the referee blew a holt on proceedings and what has been the scene for a picture-book football match turned into a scene of mass chaos as policemen and first-aid men rushed onto the pitch treating the bodies of the wounded and, sadly, the carrying the bodies of the dead.
Expressions of shock lay on the face of the survivors at Hillsborough that day along with the millions in disbelief watching around the world – some, the families of the disaster’s victims. The death count went up as the evening progressed and supporters arrived back on Merseyside to scenes of greif and sadness. By Wednesday the death count was up to ninety-five with a ninety-sixth through further reasons to follow. The country was in a state of shock.
Just days later, Anfield was covered in flowers, scarves and banners with people of all football teams and positions in authority paying their respect. Prince Charles was amongst the first to lay flowers on Anfield’s Kop.
Investigations into the disaster followed with many fans showing that their ticket for the semi-final hadn’t even been checked – still in its full tact. It was obvious that someone had opened too many gates at the Leppings Lane end, letting fans stream into an already full to the capacity area surrounded by fencing meaning an overflow of fans were inside the enclosed area.