The Dons Trust and AFC Wimbledon fully support the Hillsborough families and the campaign for Justice for the 96.
As a fans-owned club, we would like to take the opportunity of our first match against Liverpool in 15 years to declare our support for the campaigners for justice for the victims of the Hillsborough disaster.
There have been significant developments over those 15 years, culminating of course in an admission from the Prime Minister that the original inquests were misled by a false narrative originating from the police. Following a government apology, new inquests are under way.
The cover-up and attempt by the authorities to impugn the reputations of the dead fans was made possible by the demonisation of all football fans by the government and media in the late 1980s and early 1990s. We believe that achieving justice for the families of those who died attending a football match is something that concerns all football fans equally. Regardless of whatever rivalries there are between us, fans of all teams have far more in common than the loyalties that divide us.
In addition to reproducing the following pieces from the two major victims’ campaigning groups, we would like to add the voice of the Dons Trust in calling for Justice for the 96.
On behalf of the Dons Trust, owners of AFC Wimbledon
HILLSBOROUGH FAMILY SUPPORT GROUP
Firstly, on behalf of the Hillsborough Family Support Group I’d like to thank AFC Wimbledon for their support and for giving us this space in today’s programme. [This article originally appeared in the programme for the match against Liverpool, played January 5, 2015.] HFSG is the original Hillsborough group; we got together weeks after the tragedy and today we still represent 75 of the 96 victims.
You may have heard in the news recently that the new Hillsborough Inquests will be ongoing right throughout 2015 and indeed into 2016. It is a long, draining and often stressful time for the families and survivors, having to relive the events of that terrible day back in 1989, but it is important that no stone is left unturned this time and that every aspect of what went wrong that day is thoroughly investigated. I cannot go into specific details of the inquests, but I would encourage you all to follow the excellent coverage in the media, or on Twitter and Facebook feeds. If you want more in-depth information, the Hillsborough Inquests have their own website, and the transcripts from each day are available at hillsboroughinquests.independent.gov.uk
We must never forget what happened that day, and we all need to fully understand what went wrong in order to make sure it can never happen again. This is why these inquests are so important.
I am grateful for the support offered by yourselves and so many football supporters, some of whom have pointed out to me that it could so easily have been their team playing that day. I am also grateful to the hardcore families from within our group who have stuck together for nearly 26 years. It’s not been easy. There have been many really difficult times along our journey, but we’ve stuck together because of the love we have for our 96 and because we know it’s the right thing to do for all of you. Everyone should have the right to return home safely to their families at the end of a football match, and if painful questions need asking to find out why that didn’t happen on 15 April 1989, then so be it.
Wishing everyone at AFC Wimbledon a happy and prosperous New Year, full of love, hope and light.
Margaret Aspinall, Chairman, HFSG
HILLSBOROUGH JUSTICE CAMPAIGN
2015 marks the 26th year since the Hillsborough disaster, in which 96 people were killed at a football match. Hundreds were physically injured and an inestimable number psychologically damaged to the present day. However, it is only now that there is a legal process with a serious chance of establishing the cause of the deaths.
Following on from the Hillsborough Independent Panel Report in September 2012, the original inquest verdicts of accidental death were quashed on 19 December 2012 and new inquests ordered. At these inquests, now in progress in Warrington, evidence is being heard which was previously denied to the original jury back in 1989. The evidence so far has shown the extent, not only of the confusion and chaos that existed (the inquiry by Lord Justice Taylor in 1989 held that the cause of the disaster was the breakdown of police control), but also the extensive cover-up that followed the disaster.
There is not the space here to go into great detail about the facts. Nevertheless it can be said that the truth would have remained hidden and ignored were it not for a grassroots campaign that refused to accept the official version of events. The Hillsborough Justice Campaign was formed nine years on from the disaster by a number of bereaved families, survivors and supporters of the campaign for justice. It was our belief that we needed to be more proactive and locate the Hillsborough disaster firmly within the parameters of a major miscarriage of justice. This was more than a football game gone wrong. The disaster highlighted many failings, including health and safety and the general stereotyping of football supporters. The consequences were fatal.
Although the Hillsborough disaster is once again in the hands of the state and caught up in the legal system, we need to remember how it has got to this stage more than a quarter of a century on from the tragic event. We at the HJC would assert that it is because people took control of their own situation. The establishment ignored us, so we had to be inventive in making ourselves seen and heard. We realised that the state had failed the victims. The media ignored us, so we established our own website. We marched with other victims of social injustice. We made banners that good friends raised at football matches across the country and abroad. People proudly wore our HJC stickers. It took many years of hard slog, and much of that time was very dark. Although great progress has been achieved, we still need to be as vigilant as ever if we are to have any chance of justice. We believe that it will be achieved only by maintaining pressure on the government and reminding those in power that we haven’t gone away. Our day will come.
Sheila Coleman, on behalf of the Hillsborough Justice Campaign