Today we bring you the September winner of The Electric Discounter Writing Competition:
Jane Pamela Fallon
Winner September 2013 TED Writing Competition
“Why can’t this game be at Wembley?” Lucy complained to her sister.
“At least Sheffield isn’t far from Liverpool, so we don’t have much longer on this bus”, replied Fran, disappointed that her sister wasn’t more grateful for the free tickets.
It was 1989 and Liverpool Football Club was playing Nottingham Forest in the semi-final of the FA Cup at Sheffield Wednesday’s ground, Hillsborough.
“Why do we have to go in the Leppings Lane end? Liverpool has the biggest number of spectators, so Nottingham Forest should swap ends”, said Lucy in defiance. But nobody listened, not until it was too late.
Lucy noticed that the crowd going towards the turnstile was bigger this year, and people seemed to be getting frustrated about the crowded conditions. A policeman on horseback was pushing the crowd. Fran tried to reassure Lucy with a relaxed, funny comment, “Take it from me, everybody should have made sure they didn’t eat baked beans this morning, (Fran covers her mouth with a hand) – phew!” Deep down, Fran was concerned for their safety.
“This way!” shouted a policeman. Everybody seemed to be heading down the same tunnel, but Fran wasn’t overly concerned. It must be OK because a policeman is directing them. Surely the police know what they’re doing!
As they approached the pitch-end opening of the tunnel, they realised the mistake they had made. Looking into the grandstand it was obvious that too many spectators had been squeezed in. In fact, 2000 extra football fans had been led into this small part of the stadium which was already at full capacity. It resembled a sardine can and even smelled bad. And exacerbating the problem was the tall hooligan fence erected between the spectators and the pitch. This fence would soon be ripped down.
Lucy and Fran were extremely lucky. Spectators on the level above were reaching down and dragging small people up to their area. Fran had recently lost 20kg so she was an easy choice. As Fran was being lifted, she muttered a quiet prayer that her little sister could also be pulled away from the unfolding disaster.
Fran watched the events on the lower level in disbelief. Then she heard a familiar voice complaining about how her saviours had to let her go so that she could find her sister. She turned around slowly, in trepidation. The two sisters spent ten minutes hugging then helped to pull up others from the crush.
Only one ambulance was allowed on the pitch (out of 43) and the police stood around doing nothing. The Sun newspaper published lies contrived by the police, who immediately started a cover up and had 164 witness statements altered.
At the hotel nearby, Lucy and Fran were greeted by their parents, sobbing parents, grateful parents. They were relieved to be taking their girls home, unlike some parents whose children would not be at school on Monday morning.
Unfortunately, 766 people were injured in the crush. Tragically, ninety six people perished that day, some of them children, with the police implying that the accident was the fault of the Liverpool fans.
The girls knew what they had to do. They ordered 96 white Chrysanthemum to place outside the football stadium. “Rest in peace and let the truth be revealed”, Lucy whispered as she presented the flowers. A very emotional Fran was unable to speak, so she nodded her head in agreement.