Justice for the 96. Why did they have to wait so long?

I'm not in Britain but was born in a Commonwealth country where the British news was important to us. Their triumph was our triumph. Their tragedy was our tragedy. 

In April 1989, news came through of the Hillsborough stadium disaster. 96 people lost their lives after over-crowding in part of the ground at an FA Cup semi-final match. This is one of a small number of man-made disasters that I remember well from my youth. The others were things like Chernobyl and the Space Shuttle Challenger and terrorist acts such as the Lockerbie bombing.

Compared to these other disasters, Hillsborough felt entirely avoidable and mundane: how do fans go to a football match and not come home alive? It could easily happen anywhere. Yet it doesn't.

As with many disasters, it's not necessarily anything big that sets events in motion that cause the loss of life. Instead it's lots of little things.

Large crowds of ticket-holders still outside the ground at kickoff, anxious to see the game. A gate opened to help relieve pressure of the crowd. A door that is the quickest access to the terraces is left open. An inexperienced police commander in charge on the day. Stadiums with high fences between sections and the playing field to reduce problems with violence. The poor and out-dated design of the stadium.

Without all of these factors happening together this disaster would not have happened. Disasters do happen though. We plan in order to avoid them, we learn from them when they do and we try to ensure that they don't happen in future.

Instead, in this case, the police concocted a story where they were blameless and the crush was caused by unruly, drunken fans. This is shameful and even worse is that the process has taken twenty seven years to reach its current point. Twenty seven years!

It is not uncommon for police to mould a story to suit their own ends. This behaviour doesn't help anyone. But in addition to the police there were many, many other issues on that day. 

Hopefully as many lessons can be learned from the aftermath of this disaster as were learned from the original disaster itself.