This week, the inquest into the Hillsborough Stadium disaster of 1989, found that 96 Liverpool football supporters were unlawfully killed. The scandal of Hillsborough is that for the last 27 years, a different story has been told.
The errors that led to the deaths are bad enough. The inquest jury decided that they included failure to prevent crowd congestion, keeping open the tunnel which led to the central terrace, not delaying the start of the match, not co-ordinating an adequate emergency response and not learning the lessons of earlier incidents.
That their families and a whole city should suffer through subsequent denials and false information is truly dreadful.
I was a football supporter in the 1980s, going to home games and travelling away. I was at Hillsborough in 1981, at an earlier FA Cup semi-final between Wolves and Tottenham, when 38 fans were injured through crushing in the same Leppings Lane stand. Report here.
That day, the worst thing that happened to me was that my 12 foot wide union jack was confiscated by police. (A day before, my girlfriend Jennifer had lovingly sewn white letters spelling out WOLVERHAMPTON WANDERERS FC across its centre). But I recall several matches in which crowd surges led to frightening compressions. In the worst moments, I held my fists up to my chin and kept my elbows tucked in, so my ribs could move enough to breathe. On a few occasions, I found that I could lift my feet from the ground and still be held up by the press of bodies around me. It was exhilarating until the seconds when I couldn't breathe. It never occurred to me that this is the way people die.
At the turn of the 1980's, ground 'improvements' had been made to football stadia by fitting high steel fences and dividing terraces into pens. Football violence over the previous decade led to an ugly and fatal confrontation between supporters and police. Crowd control meant that we supporters were herded by mounted police like a wild west cattle drive.
It is now clear that at the same time that the steel fences were segregating and controlling the football terraces, in the minds of authorities a new division was being fixed between forces of order and chaos. It's inconceivable that errors of Hillsborough would have happened unless this division had been made. It created a story - that the trouble that could arise at football grounds required suppression through force, that the main threat was disorder and chaos. It's heartbreakingly sad to see footage of the Hillsborough disaster include police officers on the pitch, unable to assist the dying because what was happening did not fit their understanding.
In the days following the tragedy, the fans themselves were blamed for the deaths. We read reports of drunken hooliganism, of supporters urinating on officers who were trying to help. These reports were untrue and it's taken almost three decades to confirm this.
Will we see such a disaster again? Not at football grounds. The high fences were soon dismantled and all-seater stadia removed the possibility of lethal surging. Stewards now monitor the crowds much more closely.
But we must not be content with learning the lessons of crowd management at sporting events. We must always remember what happens when we too quickly judge between order and chaos, and see a mob where we should have seen people.