It’s fast approaching April 15th, and with that comes memories of The Hillsborough Disaster. It’ll be 20 years since 95 football fans lost their lives on that day, with one poor soul managing to last almost a year before succumbing to his injuries, making 96 people that set off to watch a game of football - and never came back.
It’s almost unthinkable that such a thing could happen. Even worse, this horrific turn of fate happened on live television and events unfolded in front of a horrified audience.
I wasn’t there. I wasn’t anywhere near. I was 13 years old that day, and sat in my home in Glasgow, far from the devastation when I watched Grandstand. I eagerly awaited news of another Liverpool victory - I’d adopted Liverpool as “my English Team” when I began following football on a serious level and discovered Kenny Dalglish.
What I saw had a profound effect on me, and still does. Once the dust had settled, I begged my parents to drive down to Liverpool so I could do something, anything. I settled for signing the book at the cathedral and leaving a scarf at the gates of Anfield.
When Liverpool played at Celtic Park in aid of the victims’ families, me and my Dad were there. I’ve never heard You’ll Never Walk Alone sung with such passion before or since. The image that remains with me of that game is one of hope - the famous Jungle terracing of Celtic Park, usually the domain of the green and white alone was covered from side to side with all the colours of the football rainbow.
From the green of the Celts, to the red of the Kop, with all the blues of Everton and Rangers in between - that day in Glasgow, football was united as a family to remember it’s own. That’s what football should be, and sadly in this day and age isn’t - about.
Strange that a sight so beautiful and moving should be born from a day so terrible and horrific… like a butterfly emerging from the caterpillar, beauty comes from the strangest places sometimes.
RIP the Hillsborough 96. Never forgotten.