Football is different today.
It is a gold mine for the sugar daddies of this planet, a playground of merciless merry-go-rounds, slippery slides and twisting tunnels.
The greatest success for Liverpool Football Club, and for English football, came off the football field. Liverpool’s League Cup success meant little to them. This year will be remembered by the enormous Hillsborough justice campaign.
“Today’s report is black and white. The Liverpool fans were not the cause of the disaster” - David Cameron
If a quote from a Prime Minister has ever hit home harder than this, I believe you’d struggle to find it. Mr Cameron’s comments swathed himself with dignity and commendable revere; but the horrific truth still remains.
Imagine losing a family member, imagine being told that family member was to blame, that you’re wrong, to go away, to move on, for 23 years. Imagine.
“In total 41 therefore had evidence that they had potential to survive after the period of 3.15” - Dr Bill Kirkupp. There are many difficult choices to make in football. Mangers have the task of choosing the right players, officials have to make the right choices, players need to play the right passes but this year, the most difficult choice to be made was by 96 families. Do they dare ask the medical expert on the independent panel if there relation had the potential to survive? Was their son, daughter, father, mother, brother, sister one of 41 neglected on a football pitch? Had the emergency services done their job?
Forty one people had ‘potential to survive’. Forty one people left for dead, neglected, discarded; human beings deserted through no fault of their own –they were there to watch their beloved football team in an FA Cup semi final. Branded as guilty for the disaster which shook world football to its core, the victims, families of victims and fellow sufferers were presented as mere pawns – played with by those more powerful who idiotically abused their steadfast authority.
This was the year of regnant unity of real football fans. They got it. They got the idea that it could have been them. It could have been anyone.
Their mother, squeezed to death in a stadium lacking a safety certificate.
Their brother, lay stricken, starved of an oxygen mask as the police callously strolled by.
Their father, dying in front of the emergency services who were denied access to help by Chief Inspector Duckenfield who, without experience of managing security at football games, froze.
Their relatives, blamed by the guilty British government for the killing of their own.
They were blamed for being football fans and there was the chance the nation would swallow the lies that they had killed their own.
If there is any set of football fans who should realise this, it is Manchester United. Had they been cursed with different luck in the FA Cup quarter final with Nottingham Forest in 1989, they would have travelled to Hillsborough that fateful day with the same of having the same doom as the Liverpudlians. The notion of blame and labels of ‘football low –life’s’ back then would have been laid at their door.
Real Manchester United fans need not educating about Hillsborough. Real Liverpool fans need not educating about the harrows of the Munich Air Disaster. So why the sick chants? The sick chants that persisted in the days of Bill Shankly. The Bill Shankly who was a great friend of Matt Busby. The Matt Busby who was a Liverpool legend as a player.
Let’s end the naff, out dated, stupid death banter.
2012 offered new a hope. A hope for the future. From the mouths of fans of Arsenal, Sunderland, Reading, Leeds, Celtic, Norwich City, West Ham, Stoke City, Cardiff, Brighton, Charlton, Port Talbot Town and many others, ‘death banter’ was given the notice to quit football, and life in general.
The spoke with the solidarity of the 96 bereaved families, “no more”
The blatant disregard for life shown by South Yorkshire police on that day was a disregard for their lives, followed by barbaric cover up from the British Government.
But 2012 was the year, the traumatic truth came out.
Liverpool group The Farm toured Europe to drum up support for the 96 throughout the year. In Lyon, they were joined on stage by Manchester United cult hero, Eric Cantona. Cantona said: “This, to me, is a terrible miscarriage of justice, and I fully support the campaign.”
Manchester’s own Stone Roses then asked The Farm to support them for a gig in Manchester. Ian Brown, lead singer in the Stone Roses, spoke out about why he was supporting the campaign while being a die-hard Manchester United fan: “We’re two ends of the same city”
The success of the Hillsborough campaign throughout the year has become non-quantifiable.
Amongst all the shining stars of strength in the justice collective group, there is one woman who deserves a special mention.
Anne lost her fifteen year old son, Kevin in the Hillsborough disaster. She has spent 23 years, incessantly fighting for justice. Midway through 2012, Anne was diagnosed with terminal cancer just weeks after the landmark report by the Hillsborough Independent Panel was released. She was there at the High Court to hear the original accidental death verdict quashed and will continue to fight until her dying day.
"The sooner we can get the truth, the sooner the families will be able to get on with their lives. They will never forget - we try to mourn the children but we have had two issues and I want to get Hillsborough out of my life."
So let’s end the sick chants. It is up to us, genuine people to denounce the minority who are as pathetic as Holocaust deniers and Ku Klux Klan supporters.
Let’s use Anne Williams as an inspiration in our own lives and remember those who perished, not just for 2012, but in 2013 and forever.
The truth always comes out in the end.
You’ll Never Walk Alone.