AFTER an emotive rendition of You’ll Never Walk Alone Anfield fell silent on Sunday to remember the Hillsborough tragedy 25 years ago.
The New Saints captain goalkeeper Paul Harrison lost his father and his uncle in the disaster of April 15, 1989.
Twenty five years on from that fateful day in Sheffield and the former Liverpool stopper explains how the biggest tragedy in British football history tore his family apart.
“I was only four years old when Hillsborough happened but the events are stuck forever in my mind,” said Paul.
Paul’s father, Gary, and his uncle, Steve, followed Liverpool everywhere. They managed to get a pair of tickets for the FA Cup semi-final against Nottingham Forest expecting to see their team progress to the final and go on to win the cup.
But the reality was much different and Paul, then just four-years-old, never saw his father or uncle again. A total of 96 football supporters were crushed to death when around 2,000 fans tried to cram into the central pen of the small Lepping Lane stand.
“When the match started I was kicking a football about with mates outside the house, recalls Paul, who joined the Welsh Premier outfit after spells with Liverpool, Leeds, Wolverhampton Wanderers, Chester, Hereford and Southport.
“I had only missed the first five minutes of the game but when I ran in my mum was just sitting there in shock glued to the television.
“There was chaos on the telly with hundreds of people on the pitch. Fans were climbing over fences in the Leppings Lane end and some people were passed out on the grass, it was a surreal sight.
“At first I thought there had been some kind of pitch invasion. At that age I didn’t fully understand what was going on but it soon became clear that something terrible had happened.”
As news filtered through of fans dying, Paul’s nan Joan and grandad Paul rushed around to join mum Karen at the family home in Belle Vale, Liverpool, desperate for news on Gary and Steven.
“Day soon turned into night and it wasn’t long until we got the news we were all dreading, dad and uncle Steve were among the dead,” said Paul, who has represented TNS at Oswestry’s Park Hall venue for the past seven seasons.
“The reality of it all didn’t hit me immediately. I was just a little kid, I couldn’t believe my dad wasn’t coming home from a football match so I just waited for him to walk through the door.
“It wasn’t until a week later I realised he wasn’t coming back and Hillsborough had taken him away from me for good.
“My mum was superb throughout. It must have been tearing her apart, she had lost the love of her life and had to tell her two kids that daddy wasn’t coming home.
“I’ll never know how she coped, I admire her with all my heart for the way she dealt with things during such a difficult time.”
New inquests into the victims' deaths have recently begun after the original coroner's verdicts were quashed in 2012.
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