by SCOTT INGLIS
ALTHOUGH 96 people officially lost their lives at Hillsborough on, or shortly after, April 15, 1989 the death toll has always continued to rise.
Just last year, 50-year-old Stephen Whittle threw himself in front a train, the burden of guilt on him after he sold his ticket to a friend who perished eventually becoming too much to bear.
And there are others like him who have taken their own lives since then, not to mention the breakdowns or retreats into alcohol abuse.
One can only wonder what has gone through these people’s minds every day since Liverpool took to the field against Nottingham Forest for that FA Cup semi-final fixture, which ended in such absolute tragedy.
To have friends, relatives or neighbours taken forever, never coming back, simply because they went to watch a football match.
But as we now know, the pain was forced to continue.
The authorities, including the South Yorkshire police force, launched into an immediate cover-up operation which you have no doubt familiarised yourself with by now.
Supporters, like Stephen Whittle’s friend, were painted as drunken, violent ticketless thugs who had contributed to the deaths of their fellow fans.
It was nothing more than a disgusting myth perpetrated by senior police officers determined to deflect blame and save their own skins.
Those officers have blood on their hands.
Can you imagine how it felt for the families since that day to know their loved ones were being held up as the guilty party in a crime they didn’t commit?
It’s bound to have been a gut-wrenching torture, shared only by those from a victimised city who were suffering the same agony.
On a personal note, Hillsborough has always been a kind of ‘JFK’ moment for me.
I remember walking into my house, I could only have been nine at the time, and had been out playing football.
I asked my dad what the football scores were and he said he hadn’t been able to check because “something has happened at the Liverpool game”.
And on it went, an afternoon and evening of unspeakable horror unfolding on our TV screens.
I remember, too, the next day an image in a newspaper of a man crushed up to the front of the barbaric metal fences which were used to pen football fans in at the time.
He was alive, presumably, but had a blank, emotionless expression on his face.
One sway from the crowd and it could be his turn to find himself forced to the ground and held under the stamping feet of the supporters.
His teeth had paint chip marks on them from the poles his face was wedged against.
The apologies have been made and the truth is now out in the open.
Liverpool is a city which is rid of the black cloud of guilt that some forced to hang over it for years.
The campaign for the truth is over.
The campaign for justice is just getting started.