England

Hillsborough stories: Eric George Hughes

Eric Hughes Image copyright Hillsborugh Inquests

Eric George Hughes was a married father-of-two from Warrington when he died at Hillsborough. He travelled by car with a number of friends, including Stanley Mullin, who survived.

This is the full statement to the inquests from his son, David Hughes:

My dad, Eric George Hughes, was born in Liverpool on 28 October, 1946. He was the son of Frank and Nancy Hughes. He had an older brother, Frank, and a younger brother, Billy.

My dad lived in Speke and from an early age, like a lot of young boys from Liverpool, he played football and began to follow Liverpool Football Club.

During the 1960s, Liverpool were fast building a reputation as one of the top sides in the country.

My dad would often tell me stories about how good the Liverpool players were during the 1960s and 70s and, like most supporters, he had his favourites: Ian St John, Roger Hunt, Emlyn Hughes, Kevin Keegan and Kenny Dalglish.

It was in 1967 at the Peppermint Lounge in Liverpool that my dad met my mum, Pat Maxwell, and in 1970 they got married at the Sacred Heart Church in Kirkby.

My mum tells me that it was not long after they were married that my dad was due to have a football trial with Tranmere Rovers.

'Football mad'

On the day of the trial, Liverpool were playing at home and he decided it was more important to go and watch the Reds rather than pursue a career in football - fair play to him.

Football played a major part in my dad's life and when I was just six years old he took me to my first Liverpool game, on 8 April, 1978: Liverpool v Leicester City. We won 3-2.

Being so young, I couldn't understand what all the noise and cheering was for, but after a year or two of following Liverpool Football Club, the love and desire my dad had for this club soon became clear to me.

My dad was a devoted father to his two children: myself, David, born in 1971, and my sister Nicola, born in 1972.

'Watching Liverpool together'

As I understand it, my dad wanted to name me after the Liverpool player Emlyn Hughes, but my mum was completely against the idea and flatly refused to allow him to name either of us.

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Media captionDavid Hughes: "I will forever miss you Dad - You will never walk alone"

He would take me all over the country to watch Liverpool. We both loved watching the Reds. It was more important to us than anything else in the world.

He would take me to places such as London, Bristol, Leeds, Stoke, Birmingham, and Manchester. The list goes on and on.

Watching Liverpool was what my dad and I did together. It was like a religion to us, and we loved it and we loved spending time together.

After my mum and dad separated, there was nothing better than seeing my dad pull up in his car to collect me and we would drive away and go to the Liverpool match.

'Eric the Red'

His friends Geoff, Dave and 'Spud' would be there a lot of the time too. They used to call him 'Eric the Red'. He even had a beer tankard in his local pub with the nickname printed on it.

Nicola remembers, when she was eight years old, saving her pocket money to buy dad a box of cigars with his name on it. He liked the present so much that he kept it in his living room after he moved out of our family home.

My dad was a quiet, patient man. Over the years he had a number of jobs, including being a lorry driver, a taxi driver and, when he died, he was a life assurance salesman.

Dad was a friendly and helpful man. He would do anything to help anybody. When my mum took my sister and me to Barry Island for a week's holiday, he took us down then and then came back and picked us up.

I think my dad would have loved some of today's technology, especially sat navs. He was forever getting lost going to all the places we visited watching Liverpool - going to Wembley, we had to ask the rival West Ham fans the correct way.

On holiday with my mum and my sister, we went to the Lake District and we couldn't find the camp site so we ended up staying at a different one.

'Idolised him'

My memories of my dad are 99 per cent Liverpool-related. He was always got me tickets for the games. I went to Wembley with him in '81, '82, '83, '84, '86, '87 and '88.

I relied on my dad to get me tickets and he never let me down, so it came as a shock when, in 1989, for the semi-final at Hillsborough on 15 April, he didn't have a ticket for me.

The last game I went to with my dad was against Sheffield Wednesday the previous Saturday. Strangely, as with the first ever game I went to with my dad, the last ever game was on 8 April as well.

After he brought me home from that match, I gave him a video of the Liverpool v Nottingham Forest game which he had been meaning to take for months.

We then spoke about the match and the next week's semi-final at Hillsborough. I then watched him walk down the street and get into his car. We waved to one another and he drove home. That was the last time I saw my dad alive.

A man that meant everything to me, he was my hero. I loved my dad so much. I idolised him. My life and going to matches would never be the same again.

Both my dad and I have missed out on so much. I was 17 years old when he died. The opportunity to develop our relationship further as I became a man was taken away from me.

He never had the opportunity to meet my fiancé, Lorraine, and his four beautiful grand-daughters, Amy, Katie, Chloe and Kallie.

I never even got to buy my dad a pint. I will forever miss you, Dad. You'll Never Walk Alone.

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