The players recall the horrors of Hillsborough
Soccer: Here are the reflections of some of those present and the manner in which England‘s worst football tragedy affected them.PETER BEARDSLEY, LIVERPOOL FORWARD:“The game started and after four or five minutes we won a corner. The ball came to me and I rattled in a shot which clipped the top of the bar and went over. It was a reasonable chance and I was disappointed to have missed it.
Better luck next time. The game went on for barely another minute when suddenly I saw the referee Ray Lewis tap Ronnie Whelan and say, ‘Come on, we’re going off’. I turned around to look back behind our goal to witness scenes of chaos with spectators climbing over the fence and into the upper areas of the stand and spilling over on to the pitch.
The players trotted off down the tunnel, thinking at the time that whatever problems there were, they would all be sorted out very quickly and we would be back on.”
ALAN HANSEN, LIVERPOOL DEFENDER:“The first I knew of the trouble was when two fans came on to the pitch. As they ran past me, I told them, ‘Get off — you’ll get us into trouble’. “One of them shouted, ‘There are people dying back there, Al’.
“I could see some people trying to get over the terrace fence but, because I was concentrating so much on the game, his comment did not really register with me. Much as I hate to admit it, my reaction was one of cynicism. I remember thinking, ‘Oh, yeah’?
“The next moment, the referee had stopped the game and the two teams were being taken back to the dressing rooms. The scene in the dressing room was little different from what I had experienced at Heysel, in as much as nobody knew the extent of what was happening outside. There was just too much confusion about the situation for any of the players to address themselves to it.
"Professional footballers are conditioned to concentrate on a game, shutting out all distractions, and it can take time to step out of match mode. At Hillsborough, we were all aware that something terrible was happening on the terraces, but with the adrenalin pumping we were still half thinking of the jobs we had to do.
"Up to when we were told that the game had been abandoned, I found it difficult to stop thinking that we would be brought back on to the field and that I needed to be tuned in mentally to the game.”