May 22, 2022

the poignant tribute series to the victims of Hillsborough

April 15, 1989, semi-final of the FA Cup. Liverpool meet Nottingham Forrest, at Hillsborough Stadium, Sheffield. Thousands of fans – some without tickets – are delayed by traffic jams. The request to postpone the kick-off is refused. The game started…

April 15, 1989, semi-final of the FA Cup. Liverpool meet Nottingham Forrest, at Hillsborough Stadium, Sheffield. Thousands of fans – some without tickets – are delayed by traffic jams. The request to postpone the kick-off is refused. The match started when the “Scousers” were allowed to enter the enclosure. Joy rushes them to the center of the already crowded Leppings Lane stand. 96 Liverpool supporters, aged 14 to 67, will not return home, crushed and trampled against the railings. 97 lives taken, since the death in 2021 of Andrew Devine, whose brain damage was irreversible.

And how many others demolished? Anne Williams is one of these “collateral victims” as Kevin Sampson told the British daily The Guardian.

Kevin Sampson survived Hillsborough. He is the screenwriter of “Anne”, a drama series broadcast since the beginning of January on ITV (1), a public channel in the United Kingdom. It pays tribute to the heroism of Anne Williams in her quest for the truth about the death of her “little boy”. Kevin Daniel Williams is the penultimate name engraved on the memorial. At the end of the line, two numbers: 15 years.

Anne’s battles

The four one-hour episodes tell of the unspeakable pain of losing a child. The first doubts about the police versions, contradictory. The emotional fight – Steve will leave the marital home as Anne was obsessed with the quest for truth. The physical fight, too: Anne will attend, weakened in a wheelchair, but with a striking dignity, the conclusions of the independent report which will finally say in 2012 the gaping shortcomings of the police; and who will say, too, that 47 fans could have been saved. She will die of cancer in 2013.

The four one-hour episodes tell of the unspeakable pain of losing a child.

Paul’s hand brushes the memorial. His cousin is one of the survivors: fans from the upper stand hoisted him up at arm’s length. “I come to say a little prayer at every game,” said his mother. “Imagine, if 97 police officers had died…”. Anger transpires. A few seconds later, their voices intone “You’ll never walk alone”.

At “The Arkles” pub, which adjoins Anfield, Amelie and Colin “stream” the match on a mobile phone, rigged over an empty pint. They live here but they no longer go to the stadium: getting tickets has become too complicated. “Anne Williams was so strong. What woman ! I cried” said Amelie in her delicious Scouse accent. She is not the only one: empathy pierces the small screen, through the prodigious performance of actress Maxine Peake. Colin hasn’t watched the show yet. Too hard.

Injustice, anger and tears

Liverpool dominate Brentford 3-0. The ritual resumes. A woman lays down a Brentford scarf. Tim undulates between portraits, straddles flowers and a “Grandad” crown. He kisses the cold wall. “It shouldn’t have happened.” He has no more words. There is no need. He puts his hand on his heart. It was almost 33 years ago. It was almost yesterday. The injustice can be read in the eyes which fill with tears, often, again.

Empathy pierces the small screen, through the prodigious performance of actress Maxine Peake.

Photos in front of the memorial proliferate, immediately posted on Instagram. Paul regrets this indecency. He is bruised, too, by the odious chants of certain opposing supporters, as in Shrewsbury in mid-January during a Cup match.


Tributes to the 97 victims of Hillsborough in Liverpool.

Photo by Quentin Guillon

In the wake of the series, a campaign is campaigning for a “Hillsborough Law”: a law that includes 25 measures to ensure that such an injustice does not happen again, such as easier access to seasoned lawyers. The call is made by bereaved families and high-ranking politicians. Paul does not believe in it, or no longer. “We will never get justice. The justice system in this country always protects those in positions of power: the police, the politicians or the FA (the Federation).” David Duckenfield, head of security on April 15, 1989, was found not guilty of gross negligence homicide, in 2019.

The bars filled up, the stadium emptied, the sky turned pink and the cold snapped. Steve, steward’s yellow vest on his back, meditates for long seconds, alone. He’s a fan of Everton, the other club in town, but the club stewards work together.

“There is of course the rivalry but Hillsborough has brought us closer.” “Anne” is so poignant. The series brought us together again. And young people who were not born in 1989 will carry this story.