Articles

Hillsborough survivors

Mike Nelson:

I left home early on the fifteenth with a group of friends and my young nephew, same journey and hopefully the same result as the season before. We arrived in sheffield around noon, had a full english in a local cafe, then made our way to the ground. We were in different parts of the ground, my nephew and I were in the leppings lane end, after a bit of crush getting in I said if we get split up make your way to the same place we stood at the previous year. As we both walked down the tunnel towards the terraces due to massive crowd we did get split up. I made my way to the same spec I stood at last year and waited for my young nephew, by this time it was about 2-45. I stood behind a barrier and waited for my nephew, and the team to come out. My nephew never arrived but the team came out and the game started.

I dont remember too much at this stage, as what happens on the kop when you move foreward you always go back like a spring,but not this time the pressure from behind just became greater and greater. I remember thinking to myself I am going to die, why arent we springing back this doesnt happen on the kop. I could feel the strength draining from my body, i couldnt hold off the crowd behind me anymore my time was up. I gave up i was about to die. Two young lads in front of me were slapping me on my face telling me to stay awake I tried but it was like a greater force was about to take me, The next I remember was waking up in the northern general hospital in the early hours of sunday morning. My injuries were broken ribs bruised lungs, upper and lower body bruising, nerve damage in my left leg which prevented me carrying out my building work, i needed to change job. The game eventually was played at old trafford a couple of weeks later and by chance the two young lads that helped me were there they both approached me while I was walking on crutches and said, the last time we saw you we thought you were dead. I count myself as very lucky someone was watching over me that day I could easily have been one of the fatalities. My nephew fortunately was not injured. As long as I live I will never forget that day and will support the campaign for justice for the 96 who lost their lives.

Tony Cottier:

I was 18 at Hillsborough, and have felt nothing but guilt since, for having been able to come home that night. When the crush came the bar i was leaning on gave way and my mate managed to pull me upright just in time to stop me falling, we laughed at such a close shave. The people under our feet werent laughing. The man who was unconcious but upright (not being able to fall because of the pressure) who eventually fell when we were pulled out of the back of the crush back into the tunnel, did he die? Was he already dead? When we were back in the tunnel it felt like it does when you put your head out the window of a moving car.

Someone took us around the side of the leppings lane and out onto the pitch I sat on the touchline watching. My friend was walking to and fro shouting about the dead. I had lost my programme and had spotted a man lying on the ground with a jacket over his head, but with a programme sticking out of his back pocket and I resented him for that! I have been told since that i was in shock and that a lack of oxygen prevented me from processing properly, but I still feel bad. Weeks maybe months go by now without thinking about Hillsborough, I now have a blessed life. But, when I think about those people under my feet, over my shoulder or dead on the grass, I dont feel grateful for coming home I feel guilty.

Keith:

We got the train to Sheffield really early that day and arrived at the ground probably three hours before kick off. We just milled around,we were only young,most of us just 15 or 16, it was my 17th birthday the following day. We decided to get in the ground about an hour before kick off and headed for the central pen, right behind the goal. I'd gone the year before in the car with my Uncle, my cousin was living in Sheffield at the time so me and me Uncle went to the game while me Auntie went to visit me cousin. We got there late, stuck in traffic, no problem, walked straight in through the turnstile, no queues, headed for the middle tunnel. Two police officers were manning the entrance to the tunnel, the middle pen was full they said and directed us to the side pens.

When I hear all the arguments about 1989 about what should and shouldn't have been done I can't help thinking that something as simple as having two police officers or stewards on that tunnel would have gone a long way to preventing what happened. About half an hour before kick off I was getting a bit bored so I managed to get out of the pen and went for a wander around to the turnstiles to see if I could see any familiar faces. Although I'd gone to the game with a load of mates, they weren't the lads I normally went to the footy with so I was looking out for some of the lads I stood on the Kop with. I couldn't see anyone so decided to head back into the ground as kick off was only twenty minutes away. What happened next to me is mostly based on assumption, I couldn't say for definite that this is what happened but as I headed back down that tunnel I recall feeling a surge behind me. I reckon that could've been the moment they opened the gates and I could've been right at the front of that fatal surge that was to prove so catastrophic. I'd been in big crowds before, I was only nine stone so I'd just pick me feet up off the ground and and just end up wherever the crowd took me, but this felt different, somehow I ended up on the floor, someone grabbed me and pulled me up, luckily I'd ended up right by the fence which separated the middle pen from the one to the left as you looked at the pitch. I shinned up it and jumped over.

I still didn't realise the seriousness of the situation, even as people were trying to rip the fences down I still couldn't comprehend what was happening. Then I noticed a fella, about 30, wandering around the pitch, dazed, with blood coming out of his ears, that was probably the moment I realised that something really bad was happening right in front of me. I climbed over the fence, I'd left my mates in that central pen just half an hour ago and couldn't see any of them. Luckily, they'd all somehow managed to get out ok, one lad who'd come with us did end up in hospital but he was ok. On the news that night they were showing film of people clambering over the fence, desperately trying to escape the crush and there was a lad I knocked around with, Mick. We were never the best of mates but I'll never forget that look of relief on his face as he sat on top of that fence for a few seconds before jumping down onto pitchside.

There was an Echo special printed on the Sunday,one of the pictures showed a reunited couple, maybe brother and sister,maybe just friends in tears, hugging eachother on the pitch, I was just behind them placing an advertising hoarding down to carry the injured, thing is I never did anything, didn't help carry any of the injured, didn't know what to do, I was just a kid. I remember a mate of mine saying I should go up to the gym at the other end of the ground as it was full of dead bodies. As a fairly sensible kid I realised that wasn't really a vision or memory I wanted to be carrying with me for the rest of my life so I stayed where we were.

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