That Lad

A poem about the horrors of Hillsborough.

April fifteenth, nineteen-eighty-nine.
Semi-final day, the weather was fine.
Set off for Hillsborough in our mini-bus.
Laughing and singing, all twelve of us.

Bevy in the alehouse. Reds having the crack.
We didn’t know then some wouldn’t come back.
Walked down the hill on the way to the ground.
This was dead weird, not many bizzies around.

There’s normally hundreds. Usually loads.
They must all be busy blocking off the roads.
Forest fans in one way, Liverpool another.
Can’t have them meeting. “Don’t want the bother.”

One bizzy on horseback shouting over the din.
“Stop bloody pushing. You’ll all get in.”
“Come on lads, they’ve opened a gate.”
“Hurry up, we don’t wanna be late.”

Straight up the tunnel and into the dark.
Couldn’t even see the players out there on the park.
Something’s not right. This is all going wrong.
My ribs are getting crushed in this massive throng.

I fell on the terrace, looked up at the sky.
God, I was scared. I don’t wanna die!
Punch, kick, scrap, fight.
Got to do anything to get back upright.

I was like a wild animal. What’s happening here!
Survival instinct. Stark bloody fear!
“Get outa my way lad. I can’t get my breath!”
I didn’t realise he was so near to death.

“Open the fence! Please! Let us out!”
That lad went under. It was his last ever shout.
Help me! Pull me up! Grab hold of my hand!
Get me out of this hellhole and into the stand!

I was safe. I survived. I was free from that hell.
How many dead. I just couldn’t tell.
Looked down at the pitch, there was that lad.
A man weeping over him. That man was his Dad.

He was trying to revive him with the kiss of life.
But that lad was gone. How would his Dad tell his wife?
Many years on. Still no justice done.
That man’s still grieving for his dear son.

Was it me? Was it my fault? Was I to blame?
I still ask that lad at the Eternal Flame.

By Peter Etherington

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