That day at Hillsborough stays with all football fans

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Five years ago an MP walked out onto a grass pitch, ready to address 30,000 people.

He was Andy Burnham, and the people he was addressing that day were Liverpool fans and relatives of the 96 people who died at Hillsborough on April 15, 1989.

He was applauded for some of the things he was saying.

But, very quickly, the Kop at Anfield erupted into a storm of protest over a refusal to reopen an investigation into what happened that day.

The very next day Mr Burnham attended a cabinet meeting and announced to then-Prime Minister Gordon Brown that the Hillsborough disaster should be reinvestigated.

An inquest into the deaths of those 96 people is due to resume tomorrow and it’s not for me to second guess what the findings might be.

The point I really want to make is that if those 30,000 people – and specifically those in the Kop – had not raised voices and fists towards the establishment’s chosen representative, nothing would have changed.

No inquest can bring the people who died that day back to life.

But it can help those they left behind make sense of what happened, and to show the world the truth of April 15, 1989.

I was only nine years old then, but I vividly remember one of my neighbours at the time – one of the kids I used to play with – going off to Hillsborough with his dad.

Staunch Liverpool fans both, they were luckily on the other side of the ground when the crushing began.

Both came home, but I suspect what they saw there will stay with them forever.

What happened that day didn’t just happen in Sheffield, to Liverpool fans. It happened in a small way to every football fan in the UK and around the world.

Saturday marked a year since our own vociferous fans took over a football club and returned it to the community – and it’s right that the footballing community has been standing behind those Liverpool fans fighting for justice.

It’s good to know that whatever information comes out of the new inquests, they know they’ll never walk alone.