It was a day just like this 25 years ago when the whole terrible story began, writes Martin Smith.
A day that began with blue sky and hope, but ended with 96 dead at a football match.
That day they went with hope of an FA Cup final place as they headed for the semi-final at Hillsborough.
The families arrive with the hope that, after a quarter of a century of pain, misrepresentations, rewritten notebooks and prospective manslaughter charges, justice will begin to be done for their loved ones.
It will take a year, maybe longer, to go through the details of the deaths of the 96 Liverpool supporters and for their inquests to come to verdicts on how they died.
VIDEO: Press the play button to watch our video report from the opening day of the new Hillsborough inquests.
The opening day, the victims’ families were filmed and photographed like red-carpet celebrities as they approach the oddly inappropriate glass and steel building at 305 Bridgewater Place, Birchwood, Warrington.
Some look bright and fresh, others worn by the years of struggle and anguish in their fight for the truth.
Margaret Aspinall, Hillsborough Family Support Group chairman, says as she enters the court: “It has been a very long and traumatic 25 years. It has taken its toll. It means so much to so many to finally see the new inquest start.”
But even now errors are being made:
* Jurors are sent to the wrong entrance and get lost within the building;
* There are no seats for the 25 jurors as they wait to be selected in the courtroom;
* Jurors inadvertently mix with family members before the hearing and have to be removed from the jury panel.
It’s not a great start, but there has been humour.
Laughter all around as Lord Justice Sir John Goldring reads out a declaration by a potential juror that he is an Everton supporter.
“We can live with that,” quips a family member.
Another potential juror ‘describes himself as a follower of Manchester City or Liverpool’, to which Mark George QC replies: “That’s what this season is known as an each-way bet.”
What is a dead cert is that it is a massive undertaking.
Bridgewater Place is a curious choice for a hearing of this gravity and duration.
The footpaths from the railway station to the venue are freshly paved – yellow signs point the way along the 10-minute walk like it is a new tourist attraction.
For some it’s a walk to a job or jury service, for others it’s a pilgrimage of hope that this is the last leg of a bitter and painful 25-year journey.
Legal procedure took up most of day one, but for the families it’s the start of what they hope is the road to justice. They have waited too long already.
Another 12 months may test their patience but it won’t extinguish their unquenchable desire to know the truth.