Today marks the 25th anniversary of the Hillsborough Stadium Disaster, in which 96 football supporters lost their lives at an FA Cup semi-final. In the years since momentum has been building for full disclosure of the truth behind the tragedy.
Beyond Hillsborough is a documentary drama created by two Merseyside teachers, Joanne Halliday and Layla Dowie, based on original, verbatim interviews with survivors, family members, politicians, police and journalists.
The play was first performed in Edinburgh in 2012 and is now being published to commemorate the anniversary of the tragedy. It is also a unique educational resource which will help schoolchildren to understand bereavement, political activism, and the ongoing fight to clear the names of the Liverpool supporters who were smeared in the aftermath of Hillsborough.
Royalties from sales of this book will be shared between the Hillsborough Justice Campaign (HJC), the Hillsborough Family Support Group and Hope for Hillsborough; all three groups have been involved in the development of this play.
Read below for the thoughts of contributor and HJC member Stephen Kelly, who lost his brother at Hillsborough, followed by a short extract from the play:
I first heard about the drama Beyond Hillsborough on the local radio. Immediately it came to me that the people involved were young. It was my belief they were future campaign members, people that could carry on to help achieve truth and justice for the 96 victims of Hillsborough and the many thousands left traumatised, due to the cover-up that followed the events of 15 April 1989. Also they would ensure that the message will, and
rightly so, stay loud and clear.
I spoke to teachers and students, I then had to be involved; their enthusiasm was infectious – the relationship with family members and survivors was so respectful; you just had to support it.
I first watched the drama at the school, an evening for
Hillsborough families, survivors and families of the cast. It was very distressing, yet so well put together. I travelled to Edinburgh to see first-hand how people would react to the drama outside Merseyside. I was shocked, yet pleased at the public response, I was really confident public opinion was with us, and through a group of students in a Quaker House in Edinburgh, my spirits
My first instinct was right, I watched the cast grow and gel together becoming a unit, I was proud to have been of some help. The cast and crew involved should also be proud of the part they played in putting together a message from young people who listened to us, that message is JUSTICE FOR THE 96. I am really confident they will carry on and support the Hillsborough
campaign in the future and bring it to its rightful conclusion.
The extract below is taken from a conversation between the journalist Rogan Taylor and the MP for Liverpool Steve Rotherham.
Rogan: The Sun headlines, it’s still not over is it. And what we, yah know the headlines every day from the Leveson inquiry, is just constant re-affirmation of what the Scousers knew 20 years ago, that these bastards don’t care about anybody. If the South Yorkshire Police want this story told and Mrs T wants to do the South Yorkshire Police a favour because they biffed up the unions, sure, we’ll have a headline – ‘The Truth – they pissed on their own people,’ why not? That’s who we’re dealing with here, the people who tapped Millie Dowler’s phone, the people who deleted her messages off her phone
to her parents.
Steve Rotherham: 23 years ago, the people of Merseyside took the bold decision to say that they thought there was some collusion between senior members of the government, police officers and the press, an’ 23 years ago, everyone was goin’, ‘don’t be ridiculous.’ I’m on the DCMS committee an’ believe me we were right, there’s not even a miniscule of percentage of me that thinks we weren’t right in what we thought.
Steve Rotherham: I agonised literally over every word in the speech that I made and decided at the last minute to read the names out. The only person I’d ran it through to was Sandra, me wife and I couldn’t get to the names because I erm kept filling
up. Nobody had ever read out names of any victims before, the only time that ever happens is when the Prime Minister reads out on a Wednesday before PMQs the names of any fallen from Afghanistan or Iraq, so I was very conscious that I didn’t want the people in Parliament to be pissed off thinking ‘who does he think he is?’ I didn’t want them to think I’m a bouncy Scouser, I am a bouncy Scouser but I didn’t want them to think that. On the other hand I knew the importance that perhaps when you hear their names and their ages that it might get over to these very tough politicians sittin’ round the chamber the enormity of the loss, yanno when I did John Paul, an he was ten, I think I was trying to concentrate on what I was saying but there was an audible ‘dear me’ when I said ten years of age and they took his blood alcohol levels in case he was
drunk and so I think those kind of things hit home.
Rogan: You know to outsiders Liverpool looks like the kind of place where all the spears point outwards and if you mess with them then they’ll never forget it. But when you get in the city you realise that they’re stabbing each other which is why we’ve never had a local government worthy of its name. It’s weird – a weird mix with a strange solidarity. You know the first scarf on the Shankly gates after Hillsborough wasn’t a red one, it was blue.