by Samuel Dale
My dad stood in the Leppings Lane end at Hillsborough to watch Manchester United play Leeds United in the 1977 FA Cup semi-final.
As soon as he heard about the deadly crush during the Liverpool v Forest game in 1989, he knew what had happened.
He remembered the push coming from the back of the stand as fans rushed forward. He struggled to breath and was lifted off his feet for minutes at a time. And that was when the police supposedly had control of the crowds. It was not uncommon at matches during that are but Leppings Lane was particularly bad.
And his first thought was that most natural of human emotions: it could have been me.
It could have been 96 Man United fans. My dad, my uncle and all their mates. It could have been anyone who went to a football match before 1989.
The standing areas at football matches in the 1970s and 1980s were a national disgrace. Tens of thousands of young men penned in by high fences and crushed so they couldn’t breathe.
Hillsborough was not the first football tragedy. There was the Valley Parade fire in 1985 that killed 56. The Ibrox disaster that killed 25 when a stand collapsed in 1971.
Police, politicians and club owners did not consider match-going supporters as individuals but as a mass of dehumanized, working-class drunken louts with no rights.