Reflecting on Hillsborough: 20 years on

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It’s the 1st April 2009 and I have decided to start writing this now and already I am starting to cry. Always have been a little emotional but I thought at 35 years old and a week shy of it being 20 years that I could deal with what happened so long ago. I suppose having just head for the first time the HFSG version of FIELDS OF ANFIELD ROAD, that has kicked me off! Now currently on repeat are the Dubliner’s version of the same track along with Poor Scouser Tommy and YNWA!

I feel that after 20 years it is about time I laid some ghosts to rest. Some of you know and some of you don’t, I was one of the lucky ones that managed to get out of the middle pen in the Leppings Lane back on 15th April 1989 unlike the 96 who did not. I have never felt able to go to the memorial at Anfield. Every year with the intention of going, I have always, for some inexplicable reason, never attended. I don’t know why, I don’t have any reason not too. Its not like everyone who was there or not , is not welcome to pay their respects at Anfield by anyone. I just could never bring myself to go.

Every year whether be it in work or even back when I was still at school, on the 15th April, I have always had a few minutes of quiet contemplation and thought what if.

What if I had been stuck?, what if the FA had listened?, what f**king if! There are too many off those ‘œwhat if’ moments. Sadly these things don’t always seem to sink in with everyone in the wider world. Only a few days ago, 19 dead and 130 injured in the Ivory Coast in a World Cup Qualifier. People write this off as being ‘œin Africa’ where safety never seems the top priority! It should be, FIFA is the world governing body and they make some large amounts of money overall from their tournaments and the buck must stop with them. They should ensure every fan no matter where in the work that goes to a supposedly ‘œsafe’ World Cup match should be able to leave that game still breathing. Only breathless, from screaming and shouting support, for their team. NOT BECAUSE THEY ARE DEAD OR INJURED!

I wonder how long before UEFA get their own house in order. Euro’s went off well. How long before something bad happens again in one of their tournament? Heysel was the last serious incident and there are plenty of people that regret that day. Not just the alleged fans who caused the problems but I am sure the idiot at UEFA that decided a shack of a stadium could host the most prestigious club tournament in European football!

Pidge: My day at Hillsborough, 15 April 1989 (16 April, 2006)

In that last few years we have seen over zealous policing towards the English fans from Spanish and Italian forces. We have seen Arsenal fans ambushed by Ultra’s in Rome, people killed en route to matches. We have seen pictures on TV and in newspapers of Mopeds (yeah that’s not a typo!) being thrown from upper tiers of the San Siro and a police officer being killed in Catania. The Italians have replaced the English hooligans that terrorised everywhere in the 80’s and early 90’s. However whereas English clubs were punished, Italians have no such problems. I don’t think it’s a secret that Platini has a real dislike for English football (and really wants to see us suffer with this pathetic 6+5 rule) but before he goes about trying to destroy the English game, maybe he should sort out the troubles that are destroying the European game that have nothing to do with the football itself. Sort the Italian clubs out and liaise with governments about their local forces policing of games. It is beyond a joke.

Its Good Friday, one of THE Holy days and I have finally just bought the FIELDS OF ANFIELD ROAD EP from iTunes because I cannot find the CD anywhere. It seems that the useless people who run the sales figures are trying to stop this hitting the charts as they seem to say its like a fix! Due to bulk buying, someone in the Liverpool main HMV bought 96 copies! That’s a remembrance, not sales fixing! Where do these muppets get off!? If it doesn’t go to number one then who cares but for them to say sales fixing is ridiculous! Get a grip. In the end I actually read all the reviews on iTunes and yet again am blubbering, there are some great words from non LFC fans there. One Crystal Palace fan wrote’¦.

‘œdetest everything Liverpool & the premier league stand for these days, but dislikes and rivalries aside for this’

That’s a real fan, no game is beyond life and that is what it should be.

Here are some others from non reds’¦

From an Arsenal fan’¦.’We all felt the pain and although it is 20 years on the 96 should not be forgotten. I am an Arsenal fan but I know what a special club Liverpool are and I hope this EP brings in good funds. All the best.’

‘œJust bought this. I am far from being a Red, but it’s a fitting tribute to all that sadly lost their lives on that terrible day. Hopefully one day someone will take responsibility for one of the greatest tragedies the game has seen. RIP the 96, and hope this song helps the ones you left behind’

This one really does say it all, simply as it is from a Manc’¦

‘œExcellent CD, and for an outstanding cause. Outstanding because it merits support and outstanding because we all still await justice for the 96 and all the other victims at Hillsborough. All this from a born and bred Manc because this is a football thing’

‘œNot a Liverpool fan but had to purchase’¦RIP’¦Justice for the 96’

It just goes to show not everyone if a tosser when it comes to football!

Its 15th April 2009, 20 years now passed sitting here its midday and I feel like I am all cried out, watching the immense silence from Saturday against Blackburn over again on LFC TV just shows how good fans can be both red and beyond. I am still not sure about going this afternoon but I have too, I have to lay my ghosts to rest and maybe see some people I have not seen for some time. I have my one piece of material left from Hillsborough. My LFC Badge my brother bought for me on the walk down to the ground before we split up to go to the various parts of the ground. That’s pinned to my jacket, that’s my special badge it has memories.

I know it’s not wrong for a man to get upset, as mentioned earlier in the article, I am somewhat emotional these days anyway. 4-4 last night against Chelsea was nuts but as all football should, it pales into insignificance today.

What is strange is that 20 years too late South Yorkshire Police seem to have accepted responsibility for the mess that day. Gordon Brown has stated that it would serve no purpose to have another enquiry. The European court has ruled that Anne Williams who lost her son Kevin is out of time to appeal to the Court Of Human Rights. As always though, Anne is to fight on and I wish her well with her continuing fight.

I am off to get myself sorted for this afternoon; I will finish this somewhat disjointed thing off, maybe later maybe by the weekend.

I am back and surprisingly feel great, happy that I have paid my full respects finally and thinking it wasn’t so hard to go and I should go every year from now on. It wasn’t what I expected, that sombre mood was not really there. It was a reflective rather than sombre mood with some anger thrown in. The anger for those who did not see was mainly aimed at Andy Burnham, the governments Culture & Sport secretary. What we must remember is that his attendance must have been agreed by the families of the dead and the HFSG. So if they are OK with it, then so am I. However the chanting for ‘œJUSTICE FOR THE 96’ was wholly warranted as far as I am concerned. I have seen Trevor Hicks many times over the years do interviews, and for someone who lost 2 daughters in the disaster, I have always thought how well he conducts himself. He actually retired from being a full active member of HFSG 4 years ago but was asked to take over the role that was not able to be filled by Phil Hammond who is the current chairman of the HFSG due to a brain haemorrhage that he is currently recovering from. I wish him and his family well and a speedy recovery. He made a long speech about all seated stadia and how they are supported by the HFSG and a lot of other thing he said regarding the press back in 1989 whilst holding some distain for them were not said with say the vitriolic ways I may describe them. For this he must again be congratulated.

More special thanks must go to the fans from around the world who have sent messages of hope to the families. Just goes to show how the world remembers. Respect is due also to the Celtic fans who have travelled down and placed their flags on the pitch before the service started.

My daughter, Niece and Mum were in Liverpool City Centre at 3.06pm today and told me that everything and everyone stopped. You could hear a pin drop. Respect to everyone in the City Centre and beyond who took 2 minutes to remember. Those in Sheffield, also those in Nottingham.

Trevor Hicks mentioned (as I have a few paragraphs above) that he heard yesterday (although not directly) that South Yorkshire Police have accepted full responsibility for the events that day. Does this mean the families may get justice sooner rather than later? I doubt it! I get the feeling, now some 20 years later that anyone who could have been held accountable within South Yorkshire Police has retired! Only time will tell.

I apologise for the disjointed nature of this article but it has been written over a couple of weeks with me adding little bits here and there. This is how I have felt over the last couple of weeks and I feel better that I went to the memorial. This time 20 years ago (7.49pm 15th April) I still had not arrived home! Even when I did, my mum was still in tears and had been by all accounts all day even once she knew we were safe!

At time of writing, the FIELDS OF ANFIELD ROAD single is sitting at number 16, if you have not already, go online to HMV.COM or iTUNES and buy it, a great song with a great new verse.

NEVER FORGET ALWAYS REMEMBER R.I.P 96

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