First Person - with Kevin McRoberts

Kevin McRoberts
Kevin McRoberts

ON SATURDAY, April 15, 1989, I went to watch my team play a football match. So did Kevin Williams, who was just 15 years old at the time.

I was at East End Park and watched Dunfermline Athletic beat Morton 1-0, before returning home.

Kevin was at Hillsborough in Sheffield. He never saw his team, Liverpool, play that day. And he never returned home afterwards.

Different matches – I was at a Scottish First Division fixture, while Kevin was attending what should have been a much more glamorous FA Cup semi-final – but essentially we set out to do the same thing that day ... to go to a football match and cheer on our teams.

Sadly, and tragically, our days ended so differently.

I can remember being at the Dunfermline game and hearing snippets of news from supporters with radios (no mobile phone updates in those days).

I knew something had happened at Hillsborough, some Liverpool fans had died and their match against Nottingham Forest had been abandoned.

It was only when I got home and saw the television pictures that I realised the full horror of what happened.

Or at least I thought I did.

Deceit

It has, in fact, taken 23 years for the truth to come out about what really happened that day.

And that is truly horrific.

The negligence, incompetence and deceit of those responsible for the deaths of so many innocent people is a scandal, and has prolonged and compounded the suffering of the victims’ family and friends, and those who witnessed those appalling events.

Kevin’s mother Anne has been at the forefront of the Hillsborough Families Support Group who have fought for years to get the authorities to reveal to real version of events.

Anne, and the other families, not only had to cope with the deaths of their loved ones, but they were subjected to vile lies and a police smear campaign against the fans to cover up their own failings.

Horrific accounts of Kevin’s last hours have been told.

Fans carried him on a makeshift stretcher – an advertising hoarding – and an off-duty policeman made his way on to the pitch in the commotion to give him the kiss of life.

Haunted

Police officers on duty at the game stood around and did nothing.

The off-duty officer left Kevin alive and breathing, and went to try to help others, convinced the boy would survive. It was only years later, when he met Kevin’s mum that he found out he had died.

He’s now haunted by feelings that he didn’t do enough to save Kevin, but it is others who should be bearing the responsibility for his death and should be brought to justice.

The findings of the Hillsborough Independent Panel published last week revealed Kevin was one of 41 of the 96 fans who died that day who could have been saved.

The panel found witness statements had been altered to cover up the deceit, lies of police officers.

Anne has launched fresh legal action which could, and should, result in manslaughter charges being brought against those responsible for her son’s death.

She deserves justice for Kevin, and so do the families of the other 95 fans who died that fateful day.

This Saturday, I’ll be at East End Park following my football team, cheering them on against Livingston. Afterwards, hopefully after watching them win, I’ll walk home again.

This weekend, Kevin Williams won’t be at Anfield to watch the Liverpool match. He won’t return home afterwards.

That’s sad, tragic … and so unfair.