Sunday, April 30, 2023




an event causing great suffering, destruction, and distress, such as a serious accident, crime, or natural catastrophe.


I was watching a commentary on 60’s music one of the songs mentioned was You’ll Never Walk Alone by Gerry and the Pacemakers. The commenttator stated that the song took on an added significance after the Hillsborough disaster. A little more of that later.

It started me thinking of that disaster, I remember when it happened, which in turn started me thinking of other tragedies . . . the Bradford City stadium fire, Aberfan, Jonestown, Tenerife . . .

It occurred to me that it would be worth having an occasional look back at some tragedies.  Although still sad, they are now part of history.

Here is the first.


Hillsborough disaster:

The following post contains photographs which are harrowing and may be distressing. I was contemplating leaving them out but, after thinking about it, felt that the full scale of the tragedy needed such images included.

Hillsborough stadium crush disaster


15 April, 1989


The Hillsborough disaster was a fatal human crush during a football match at Hillsborough Stadium in Sheffield, South Yorkshire, England, on 15 April 1989.

An FA Cup semifinal match was scheduled between Liverpool and Nottingham Forest on April 15, 1989, at Hillsborough, a neutral venue. The sold-out game was expected to draw more than 53,000 fans. To prevent hooliganism, fans for the two teams were directed to enter from different sides of the stadium. Liverpool supporters with tickets for the standing terraces were to enter along Leppings Lane. There they were to pass though one of seven turnstiles, after which there were two tunnels that opened into “pens,” areas enclosed by high fences with a narrow gate. Central pens 3 and 4 were accessed from the main tunnel, while the side pens were entered through the less prominent corridor.

Due to the limited number of turnstiles, a bottleneck formed as approximately 10,100 fans attempted to enter the stadium on the Leppings Lane side. By about 2:30 PM, some 30 minutes before kickoff, more than half of those fans were still outside. Hoping to ease congestion, Yorkshire Police Chief Superintendent David Duckenfield, who had little experience policing soccer matches at Hillsborough, approved the opening of exit gate C at approximately 2:52 PM. Some 2,000 fans entered through that gate, and, although the side pens were relatively empty, the majority headed to the main tunnel and the already crowded pens 3 and 4. As fans rushed into those pens, a deadly crush resulted, with people frantically trying to escape. A number of law officials initially believed the problem to be unruly fans, and it was not until five minutes after kickoff that the match was halted. However, police never “fully activated the major incident procedure.” Poor communications and coordination further complicated rescue efforts, and in numerous cases fans provided assistance and medical attention.

With 97 deaths and 766 injuries, it has the highest death toll in British sporting history.

The match was abandoned and restaged at Old Trafford in Manchester on 7 May 1989; Liverpool won and went on to win that season's FA Cup.

In the following days and weeks, South Yorkshire Police (SYP) fed the press false stories suggesting that football hooliganism and drunkenness by Liverpool supporters had caused the disaster. Blaming Liverpool fans persisted even after the Taylor Report of 1990, which found that the main cause was a failure of crowd control by SYP. Following the Taylor Report, the Director of Public Prosecutions ruled there was no evidence to justify prosecution of any individuals or institutions. The disaster led to a number of safety improvements in the largest English football grounds, notably the elimination of fenced standing terraces in favour of all-seater stadiums in the top two tiers of English football.

In January 2023 the national body for police chief constables issued an official apology for the police failures that led to the unlawful killing of 97 people in the Hillsborough disaster, and for the “pain and suffering” experienced by the bereaved families for years afterwards.

Martin Hewitt, the chair of the National Police Chiefs’ Council (NPCC), made the apology at the launch of a report setting out senior police officers’ commitments to learn lessons from the Hillsborough failures. These include every force having signed a charter for bereaved families in 2021 that requires police organisations to acknowledge mistakes with “openness” and “candour” after a public tragedy, and not “seek to defend the indefensible”, as South Yorkshire police were accused of doing after the 1989 disaster.

Andy Marsh, the chief executive of the College of Policing, the standards-setting body for the police in England and Wales, said “Policing has profoundly failed those bereaved by the Hillsborough disaster over many years and we are sorry that the service got it so wrong. Police failures were the main cause of the tragedy and have continued to blight the lives of family members ever since. When leadership was most needed, the bereaved were often treated insensitively and the response lacked coordination and oversight.”

An image of the gate that was opened to allow fans in

The tunnel at the Leppings Lane end of Sheffield Wednesday’s Hillsborough ground.

Footage released by the Hillsborough inquest.

Fans in the Leppings Lane End crushed against the fencing

Supporters are crushed against the barrier.

Fans in the central section of the Leppings Lane End are crushed against the fences

Ninety-seven Liverpool fans died as a result of the 1989 Hillsborough disaster


The song:

"You'll Never Walk Alone" is a show tune from the 1945 Rodgers and Hammerstein musical Carousel.

In 1963 the Liverpudlian Merseybeat group Gerry and the Pacemakers had a Number 1 hit with the song in the UK, as well as hitting No 1 in Australia, Ireland and New Zealand.

Hear it by clicking on:
Take the time to look at the images on the video.

After becoming a hit by the local band, the song gained popularity in Liverpool and the song quickly became the football anthem of Liverpool Football Club, which adopted "You'll Never Walk Alone" as its official motto on its coat of arms.

The song is sung by the team’s supporters moments before the start of each home game at Anfield with the Gerry and the Pacemakers version being played over the public address system.

In 2013, the 50th anniversary of the song, Simon Hart of The Independent wrote:
Five decades on, the pre-match, scarfs-raised, sing-it-loud ritual is as much a part of Liverpool's fabric as their red shirts, its words written in wrought iron on the gates of their stadium.


In his commentary on the memorial service following the Hillsborough disaster in 1989, Peter Jones recited the lyrics, which were then sung by a cathedral choir.

In 2019, during a Take That concert at Anfield, lead singer and Liverpool fan Gary Barlow brought out a guest vocalist, Gerry Marsden – who had come out of retirement for the performance – and they sang the club's anthem "You'll Never Walk Alone".

See and hear it by clicking on:

It was his last performance, his smile as big as ever. He died on January 3, 2021 aged 78, after being diagnosed with a blood infection in his heart.

The song is now also sung at association football clubs around the world, where it is performed by a massed chorus of supporters on match day, a tradition developed at Liverpool F.C.

In some areas of the UK and Europe, "You'll Never Walk Alone" became the anthem of support for medical staff, first responders, and those in quarantine during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The composition is sometimes treated by performers as a religious song, such as with the 1967 version by Elvis Presley, which was featured on several of his gospel albums.

In August 2021 Liverpool F C played its first home game of the season, at Anfield, being also the first since the start of the COVID pandemic in March 2020, a wait of 18 months. The previous month, in July 2021, the 97th victim of the Hillsborough disaster had passed away. Andrew Devine was 55 years of age and passed away 32 years after suffering life-changing injuries in the stadium crush on April 15, 1989. A coroner has ruled that Devine is the 97th victim of the disaster and that he was unlawfully killed.

Liverpool fans turned out enen masse to the game, a sellout, and produced an incredible rendition of ‘You’ll Never Walk Alone’ to pay tribute to the 97th Hillsborough victim ahead of the match.

See it and hear it by clicking on:
So moving.

Tribute at the above match.

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