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Hillsborough Disaster As Reported By U.S. Newspaper

palm beach post hillsborough Hillsborough Disaster As Reported By U.S. Newspaper

In the aftermath of the Hillsborough Disaster, many of us saw the headlines that adorned the front covers of English newspapers. But what was the coverage like in America, and how did the newspapers report the news?

In 1989, my local newspaper was The Palm Beach Post. On Saturday, April 15 1989, I listened to Sportsweek on BBC World Service using my shortwave radio. I remember my cousin and I hearing about the incidents from Hillsborough and that the game had been abandoned, but it was difficult to fathom exactly what happened. It wasn’t until later that night when I watched the national CBS Evening News where the lead story was the Hillsborough Stadium disaster.

The following morning, the true scope of the tragedy hit home when I opened up The Palm Beach Post and saw the cover story alongside the horrifying main photograph on the page. I’ve mentioned this before but that image has horrified me for 20 years.

This past Sunday, I made a special trip to my local library to take a look again at that newspaper edition that I hadn’t seen in 20 years. After finding the microfilm in the archives section, I sat in front of the machine and quickly found the April 16, 1989 edition. There, right before my eyes was the same image that had haunted me all those years.

It was exactly as I remembered it, a sickening image that I’m sure most local newspapers in the United States would have declined to use and would have selected a less gruesome picture to adorn their Sunday morning newspaper cover.

To me, the image sends the message of how cruel and terrifying the death of the 96 victims must have been. I decided to snap a few pictures of the image as well as the accompanying article to share with you, the readers.

WARNING: Some people may find the images distressing, and should be only viewed by adults, not children. We are particularly keen that survivors be aware that scenes of the crowd in the pens might trigger flashbacks. Personal discretion is advised.

  • View the slideshow of The Palm Beach Post‘s coverage of the Hillsborough Disaster. Or view the set, which includes added notes and additional information.

The thoughts that run through my head when I look at the image of the three people from Hillsborough are: (1) Did any of these three survive? (2) Did any of them know each other or were they complete strangers? (3) Was the woman a mother or a sister or a relative of the two young boys? (4) Was the young man with his eyes closed already dead? (5) If any of these three people are still alive today, how did they survive? (6) How close was the photographer to the fence and could he have done anything to help save the supporters instead of doing his job? (7) At what time was the picture taken?

So many questions just from one photograph.

Concerning the article in the newspaper, the cause of the Hillsborough Disaster was linked to ticketless Liverpool supporters surging into the back of the Leppings Lane end and causing the crush. In hindsight, we now know that these were lies that were fed to the media by the police. You can read the text of the newspaper article by viewing the images above on EPL Talk’s Flickr stream.


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About Christopher Harris

Founder and publisher of World Soccer Talk, Christopher Harris is the managing editor of the site. He has been interviewed by The New York Times, The Guardian and several other publications. Plus he has made appearances on NPR, BBC World, CBC, BBC Five Live, talkSPORT and beIN SPORT. Harris, who has lived in Florida since 1984, has supported Swansea City since 1979. He's also an expert on soccer in South Florida, and got engaged during half-time of a MLS game. Harris launched EPL Talk in 2005, which was rebranded as World Soccer Talk in 2013.
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