Hillsborough 25th anniversary: Kenny Dalglish recalls how tragedy showed the true relationship between Liverpool and their supporters
Dalglish was manager at the time of the 1989 disaster and remembers the 'horrendous experience' and the immediate aftermath when 96 lives were sadly lost at the Hillsborough stadium
Friday 11 April 2014
Kenny Dalglish went to four funerals in one day. Imagine that. Incomprehensible really.
Yes, he was manager of Liverpool, the public figurehead dealing with a very public tragedy, but it was not out of a sense of duty he performed this most heartbreaking of roles.
Dalglish, in his first spell in charge of the Reds, wanted to be there to show the solidarity which existed between the club and its supporters, because he felt a need to provide whatever comfort he could to distraught, grieving families.
It may have been 25 years ago since 96 people died at Hillsborough but the emotional wounds do not heal.
In his autobiography published three years ago Dalglish said retracing the steps and memories of April 15, 1989 was a "soul-destroying task" and that "Hillsborough haunts me still".
How Dalglish did what he did at the time still beggars belief - it was to cost him the job he loved 21 months later when he resigned as the stress finally caught up with him - but he puts it down to the desire to do the right thing.
"There was a special bond between the club and supporters before that but I think it increased after Hillsborough and in the immediate aftermath there were some very poignant moments and some things which will live in people's memories forever," he said.
"This football club has loyal supporters and 25 years ago when they were in a bit of trouble it was our chance, as a club, to show our support for them.
"It was an horrendous experience and something that should have never happened but what would you do? Would you turn your back on them and run away or stand your corner and fight your fight?
"Everyone stood their corner, fought for what they thought was right, fought for justice and hopefully in the not-too-distant future they will get what they want.
"Everyone wants closure. Everyone is expecting different things but at least we are a lot closer to that now than we were 25 years ago."
Dalglish and the rest of the players on duty in the FA Cup semi-final against Nottingham Forest have always been reluctant to speak of their experiences on that fateful spring afternoon in Sheffield.
They all have their own reasons for that but Dalglish believes whatever they suffered pales into insignificance compared with what the families of the 96 victims have had to live through.
"We were there, we experienced it, but many other people experienced it and their experiences were much worse than ours," added the Scot.
"If we have been scarred anyway it is minimal, a scratch compared to what the families have suffered.
"I don't think any of the boys who have been involved haven't spent some part of their day thinking about it so we are no different but for the families it is much more intense.
"No player was ever looking for any sympathy. They stood up and were brilliant at the time supporting the families but the families have been fantastic to us as players and that was the least we could have done.
"The players did what they had to do, did what they wanted to do."
Dalglish added: "I don't think it has been easy for anyone but the players are not the ones who have been affected the most.
"I don't think there is anyone at the football club - myself included - who would put themselves ahead of the families.
"The families have been an example to everyone who has been involved in the club since it happened.
"If people start to feel sorry for themselves then they just need to look at the eternal flame outside the ground (in memory to the 96 victims) and that is the people who you feel sorry for, not for yourself.
"The players will be happy when the families are happy at what they get.
"The players don't have any choice in what they want, it is what the families want.
"They have sacrificed themselves for the families and they will put the families' wishes before their own and anything they can do to help.
"The club will always be there to support the families and we will stand together and fight together and it is a hell of a force when you have Scouse housewives and mothers and Liverpool Football Club standing shoulder-to-shoulder.
"That is a hard combination that will not be beaten."
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