April is fast approaching, bringing with it the 20th Anniversary of the Hillsborough Disaster. There will be more moving tributes already in print than anything I could ever say, and this piece in the Observer is particularly vivid. I thank the Footballing Gods that UEFA saw sense and didn’t force Liverpool to play on the anniversary, and hope that instead we’ll lead into it by having spanked Chelsea at the Bridge (for the second time this season!!).
The club, massive though it is, has always retained a sense of community. Sure, it’s hard to get tickets a lot of the time unless you’ve had a season ticket since nineteen canteen, but I’m sort of proud that so many of the club’s former greats are still involved in the daily running of the club, and that every major issue on Merseyside, from Michael Shields to James Bulger has access to the immense platform that LFC provides.
So the new recording of “Fields of Anfield Road”, to raise awareness of Hillsborough and raise money for the Hillsborough Families’ Support Group is really quite moving. It’s sort of adorable to see Kenny Dalglish blush as they sing about him, in the words of the song that rings out around Anfield at least once every home game. You can watch the video here, with the familiar first verses for Shankly and Paisley (because this club never forgets its history, at least we have one, eh?) and a new verse in tribute to those 96 people who lost their lives. They lost their lives due to the mistakes of others, and those responsible have not yet been held to account, not even close. Anne Williams and her case in the European Court for her son Kevin remains the last hope of getting the arbitrary (and convenient) 3.15pm cutoff from the original 1991 enquiry overturned. That limited time period allowed the verdict of ‘accidental death’, one of the biggest whitewashes in British legal history.
While justice has still not been done, fans and non-fans alike can take a moment on April 15th to remember those who died simply because they wanted to watch their team and the system let them down.
An even better tribute might be to win the League and European Cup double this season, but like all sensible fans, I won’t get carried away.