The longest judicial inquest in British legal history came to a close on Tuesday 26th April 2016. Letting the enormity of that fact sink in makes the whole tawdry decades-long exercise in mud-slinging and blame-shifting all the more horrendous.
In the aftermath of the jury’s eye-watering verdict in the 27-year-long wait for justice for the 96 people who needlessly died at Hillsborough at the FA Cup semi final in April 1989, football fans of a certain age will be reflecting on how it really could have been any one of us, given the callous disregard for safety and organization we as football supporters met every week of our apparently risk-laden lives during a decade of neglect and disrespect.
That is why, for all the occasional jarring moments about wallowing in the past and breeding a grief culture, this decision, dreadfully late though it is, should be seen as a release first and foremost for the relatives of the families involved in the tragedy, but also a breath of fresh air to anyone, who was there in the 80s and attempted to follow his or her club through a decade of danger, dirt and decadence.
Contrary to the idea mooted on social media on a daily basis these days, apart from the last five years, following Manchester City has not really been what you might call a bed of roses. In the 80s, in fact, it was anything but.
As the last dainty notes of Sister Sledge and Boney M faded and the jagged sounds of the 80s dawned, the football landscape began to change radically. It would do so again after Hillsborough, spawning the sometimes anodyne but always safe environment we watch the game in today, but first came this jarring, dizzying change for the worse. Much worse.
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