The Hillsborough disaster was one of the most dark and haunting days to have ever occurred in English sport, and not only shook the very foundations of Liverpool Football Club, but the footballing world and the general public too. On the fifteenth of April 1989, ninety six Liverpool fans lost their lives at Hillsborough in what was described at the time as a ‘human crush’ that saw fans try to get into the ground to watch their beloved team take on Nottingham Forest. As well as the number of dead, there were also 766 people injured, with many trying to get into the stadium to watch the FA Cup semi final between the two teams.
The game was eventually abandoned after six minutes. The official inquiry into the disaster, the Taylor Report, concluded that the ‘main reason for the tragedy was the failure of police control’, however, to this day, there are still inquiries being led as many relatives of the deceased still do not believe that they were given the full story. Ironically however, the fateful day has had a positive impact on the modern game, with the elimination of standing terraces in both England and Scotland meaning that fans are ultimately safer during matches. Even now however, Hillsborough remains the deadliest stadium-related disaster in British history and one of the worst ever international football incidents. Like many football stadiums, the Hillsborough ground was segregated in order to keep opposing fans away from one another.
This meant that the Nottingham Forest fans were allocated the Spion Kop end of the ground which had a capacity of 21,000, whilst Liverpool fans were allocated the Leppings Lane end of the stadium that could hold only 14,600 fans. This was seen as a strange decision by many people as Liverpool were known to have a larger fan base. There were also other instances that contributed to the disaster however. Firstly, because of a delay on the motorway, many Liverpool fans were late arriving to the stadium which meant that there was a build up of fans in a small area, people who were refused entry then couldn’t get out because of the build up of people behind them, which, in turn, meant that many people were starting to get trapped. Police, as a way of reducing numbers, then decided to open a set of gates that were intended as exits; however, this backfired, as a rush of supporters went through the gates and into the stadium. The result of all these occurrences ended in tragedy however, as thousands of fans made their way into overcrowded areas and pens, which resulted in a huge crush at the front of the terrace. Hundreds of people were pressed against one another as well as fencing and because of this sadly died, with many fatalities suffering from compressive asphyxia whilst standing.