I wasn’t going to write about Hillsborough. There are so many who can say so much more, so much better than I can.

But then I watched the news yesterday, and read my social media Timelines, and I felt compelled to write something. It’s what I do.

It’s what Vicky Hicks wanted to do. She was just 15 when she died, with her sister, Sarah, who was 19,  in the crush at the Leppings Lane end of the ground, on April 15, 1989.

Vicky wanted to be a football reporter. Match reports of Liverpool games were found at her home in Pinner, Middlesex, after she died.

Every time I see  Trevor and Jenny Hicks on the TV, talking about their daughters, my heart breaks for them.  I daren’t even begin to imagine their pain.

I was 17 years old when they and 94 other football fans died that awful day. I loved football. I still do. My dad used to take me to the games sometimes, even though we supported opposing teams. My brother was, and is, a huge football fan. My mum, too. All of us have held and hold season tickets at football clubs.

96 innocent football fans died at Hillsborough

Some of the earliest memories I have are of watching the Grandstand ‘videprinter’ list the scores on my TV on a Saturday afternoon.

In 1993 I became a trainee football reporter, and my long career in journalism began, the first six years spent covering football.

Vicky wanted to be a football reporter. Match reports of Liverpool games were found at her home in Pinner, Middlesex, after she died.

Just four years after Vicky died, I became the football reporter she wanted to be. Twenty-seven years on, and I am a time-served journalist, not covering football anymore, but still watching it, and still writing. I wonder what Vicky would be doing now, aged 42?

I was elated for the Hicks family, and the families and friends of all the victims yesterday when the ruling of unlawful death was announced. I openly wept as I watched the personal portraits  being read out on the news.

As a football fan, and an active supporter, it’s the unimaginable; the unthinkable – that you go to watch your team, and you don’t come home.

I’ve been a season ticket holder at my football club for almost a decade. I sit in the pub every week with a band of fellow football supporters. They’re my friends. We go to games together, we drink together, we celebrate the highs, and dissect the lows together.  We would never imagine dying together in a football ground.

But it happened. It happened to football fans just like us,and it happened, not because of drunken fans or loutish behaviour,  but because of human error,  and a glaring lack of care, and respect, for normal,  everyday people who love to watch football.

Football is much changed in the 2010s. Stadiums are much safer, crowd trouble is pretty much non-existent. It’s a family game – more women and children attend than ever before, and it’s a fun day out.  Hopefully nothing like Hillsborough will ever happen again.

Every football fan will have been united in cheering yesterday at the inquest verdicts, but let’s hope now those who played a part in the awful cover-up of the truth about Hillsborough are held accountable.

All of the lies, that only served to make the victims’ families suffering even harder to bear, have to be punished.

  • I wonder how many flowers have been laid for the Hillsborough victims since 1989? I adore them, so I decided to pay my own tribute to the 96 in flowers.


  1. Sarah Brown
    May 20, 2016 / 22:29

    Enjoyed this poignant piece of writing Merle. I was totally moved by your comparison of Vicky and yourself. I am sure like you that her parents must wonder sometimes what both of their daughters would have achieved in their lives.

  2. Merle
    May 23, 2016 / 09:45

    I bet. So sad. Every time I read about them, I feel sad. Awful thing to have happened.