ESPN 30 for 30

The horror and coverup of ‘Hillsborough’ (2014)

It’s fitting to review the ESPN film Hillsborough today, the 26th anniversary of the April 15, 1989 football stadium disaster where 96 Liverpool fans died from suffocation and crush injuries.

Director Dan Gordon is especially emotionally invested in this film because Hillsborough was his team’s home stadium, and he could easily have been one of the young people inside.

The film is based on the 1999 book and research by criminology professor Phil Scranton. We learn how the disaster unfolded and the subsequent pursuit of justice by the victims’ families, in the face of a cover-up. The first government investigations absolved the responsible parties (police and club) and instead essentially blamed the victims.

It took an emotional 20 year anniversary tribute at Liverpool’s Anfield stadium, where the crowd called for “Justice for the 96″, for the government to reopen the investigation. One of the conclusions of the subsequent panel was that over 40 of the victims could have been saved, had they received proper treatment.

The panel led to the opening of new inquests in Dec-2012. An ironic side-effect is that this movie cannot be shown in the UK until the inquests are completed. However, some have opined that the real beneficiaries of the film might be Americans like me, who knew nothing of the disaster and can learn all the facts in this one movie. Sadly, you just can’t tell anyone about it if they are in the UK.

Update on Feb-26-2020

As of this update, Anfield is now coming on the 31st anniversary of the tragedy. The Hillsborough Family Support Group will cease operations, secure in the knowledge that their loved ones and all survivors have accomplished much, and it is time to move on.

Margaret Aspinall, chair of the Hillsborough Family Support Group, said: “The 31st anniversary Hillsborough memorial service will be the last service ever to be held at Anfield stadium, which was a decision made by the families after much consideration.

7 SoccerMovieMom Rating = 7


  • Release Date: 2014-04-15 (ESPN)
  • IMDB
  • WIKI
  • Director: Daniel Gordon
  • ESPN does not make a Trailer available