'David took on Goliath - and won'
Trevor Hicks called me on Friday. Following a momentous few days, I had left a message with the Hillsborough Family Support Group, and he responded as soon as he received it. I had lost touch a bit after the early days of non-stop Daily Mirror campaigning for Justice for the 96.
At the Mirror, I was chief football writer and had covered that fateful day at Hillsborough. We quickly took a stand against the finger-pointing, the accusations being made about the behaviour of the Liverpool fans. I recall attending one Liverpool game when fans chanted my name. That was quite a moving experience, even for an old hack.
But Trevor hadn't forgotten those who believed the families were right from the very first. I had been there, had seen for myself whether the Liverpool fans were drunk, as was claimed. They were not. Whether so many of them were ticketless, as was claimed. They were not. And those claims that they had behaved appallingly - all lies.
Alan Hansen suggested the events of this week were the most momentous in the history of Liverpool. Speaking to ESPN, Trevor reflected: "I love Alan Hansen to bits. In fact I was listening on the radio before the kick-off to find out whether Jockey was playing as he'd been injured all week. But I don't agree that it's been the biggest day in the history of Liverpool. It's been more important than that - it's been the biggest day in British society.
"It's been the day that David took on Goliath and won. We have beaten a corrupt system, those arms of the state that hide and distort the truth. This is one in the eye for them.
"I have been called a lot of vindictive things - many things you couldn't repeat, and certainly couldn't print, but it's not just about me. I couldn't have done this on my own: it's the families united that have now, finally, changed public opinion, the public perception of what happened at Hillsborough.
"It is not about the club, not about Liverpool, it is about putting an end to all the disgusting allegations levelled against genuine supporters. It is about everyone - from the government to the police to the press - facing up to the fact that we were right and that they lied.
"We have gone, I have gone, from being a nuisance, a piece of sh*t that won't go away despite being told to shut up and stop whingeing, to someone who has been telling the truth for all these years when no one - well, very few people - would listen to us.
"So that is what has happened in the past couple of days. All that we have been saying for more than 20 years, they finally know it to be true.
"I knew most of what was in the report. I had seen it for myself. I knew about all the doctoring of police statements, knew about the cosy meeting, at what is now a derelict working men's club but was then the junior officers' meeting place, where they got together to ensure they all had a solid statement of the events.
"What, though, has shocked me in this report is the lengths that people went to divert attention away from themselves and onto the fans.
"So it's not about the most momentous day in the history of Liverpool - it is a momentous day in the history of this country, and the message has gone all over the world.
"The message has been that ordinary fans were the victims of dirty tricks campaign that involved senior police officers, and there is only one word I can use to describe it: vindicated."
Trevor took a deep breath. He became highly emotional as he spoke of Vicki and Sarah, the daughters he lost at Hillsborough. "I still think about them - you can imagine I do," he said.
"Football brought our family together, and then one day football cost our family so dearly. I had two beautiful girls with their futures before them. This is the hardest thing to handle, the lost opportunities for those two girls and others like them.
"I've re-married and I am a step-dad. But I should also be a dad and granddad. So you see how personal it is for me. How much I have had to suffer. I am not a schizophrenic, but there are two of me: the public face, as chairman, now president, of the families campaigning for justice, but also someone who is still in a constant state of bereavement, someone who has lost two children, a loss that will never leave me.
"Even at Christmas when I am enjoying myself with my new family, I stop and think of Sarah and Vicki."