Ex-City midfielder recalls the day tragedy struck at Hillsborough
PUBLISHED: 13:17 15 October 2019 | UPDATED: 13:17 15 October 2019
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Ex-Norwich City midfielder Andy Townsend has spoken of the moment he found out about the Hillsborough disaster as he travelled back from City’s own semi-final clash at Villa Park.
City were beaten 1-0 by the Reds' local rivals, Everton, on the same day that 96 people lost their lives in the Hillsborough tragedy during the other FA Cup semi-final game between Liverpool and Nottingham Forest.
The tragedy unfolded while the Canaries were playing their own semi-final, 90 miles away in Birmingham.
City had been due to originally play at Hillsborough on the day of the disaster but their Division One fixture with Sheffield Wednesday was postponed after the Canaries reached the latter stages of the cup competition.
Townsend played in that game against Everton and recalls his horror as he listened to the latest reports of the disaster on the City team bus as they headed back to Norfolk after that defeat.
"We weren't aware of it until we'd actually come off the pitch. There's a lot I remember about that day.
"First and foremost, the game itself, I was playing in a good Norwich team that was doing really well. We were top of the league for a long part of that season but we didn't get over the line and finished 4th in the end, I think.
"We were strong favourites against Everton that day but we didn't play very well. We froze on the day and they beat us."
Football soon become secondary as news began to filter through about what was unfolding at Hillsborough, with Townsend recalling that discussions about City's own game soon became irrelevant.
"It was only as we sat down that word started to go round that there had been a very serious incident at Hillsborough," Townsend told the Last Word podcast. "By the time we'd had our showers and were getting changed, we heard that there was a number of people who'd lost their lives.
"That day when we were going home, the radio was on, on the bus and we were hearing about the amount of casualties there were and the expected death toll.
"I think we stopped for a beer on the way back. The manager pulled over and do you know what? I don't think we hardly spoke about the game because of the enormity of what was happening at Hillsborough was now coming through in such detail, that how can anyone in their right mind be seriously so p****d off about losing an FA Cup semi-final when the events that were unfolding up the motorway were so tragic."