I WILL make it clear – before anyone points it out – that I wasn’t at Hillsborough that day.
I was two years old. I didn’t lose any family members, or people who I knew.
But I do know those who lost loved ones, who experienced that day, and who still fight for justice.
I have read the stories and I have heard them first hand. I’ve witnessed the ongoing feelings that just won’t subside. And for these reasons, I don’t think we should ever play football on 15th April, regardless of any consequence.
“I don’t think it’s even worth a line in a paper that we might play on the 15th because we won’t,” said Dalglish. “We’ve never played on the 15th before, have we? So there you are. Why would they change now?”
In response to a question about playing on the Hillsborough anniversary, Kenny Dalglish was unequivocal in his reply.
And most, if not all, Liverpool supporters welcomed it. Kenny Dalglish, speaking on behalf of the club, had made clear our position. So, that’s the end of it right?
Because in recent weeks, some have begun to speak out. Some have asked questions, querying and listening. They have been reasoned in their questioning. They may not agree nor fully understand, but they accepted. Some have not been so sensitive. Alan Davies brought it to the forefront of many people’s minds.
For me, and I assume many others, it was never in doubt. When I paid for my Grand National tickets back in 2011, a quick look at the fixture list out of curiosity got my mind working. ‘That’s semi-final weekend, I bet we get there now’, I thought to myself.
I checked the dates, Saturday 14th and Sunday 15th April. I knew we wouldn’t play on the Sunday so I would have to try and shift my race tickets with a few weeks to spare.
Yet others don’t get why this is the case. They don’t get why we can’t, or won’t, play on the Sunday. The debate and argument that has raged on Twitter hasn’t helped many. Some have tried to inform and engage with those who think we should play on that day. Others, as ever with Twitter, have gone over the top and threw stupid and vile insults out at those who don’t understand or don’t want to. Sometimes, 140 characters just isn’t enough. So I will try and set out just why for many of us, that day just isn’t for playing football on.
The Memorial Service
Some who think we should play on this day may not be aware of this but every year on 15th April, a memorial service is held at Anfield.
Supporters and those who wish to remember, fill The Kop and other parts of the ground, to be part of the annual memorial service. It has been held every year. They do so to pay their respects. They do so because they can, because they want to and because it is right to.
They recognise that supporters like them, went to a football match and never returned home. The playing staff and management of the football club also attend. Many have given readings and Dirk Kuyt will be the latest player to give a reading this coming Sunday.
The players are important to what happened at Hillsborough – it is part of their loyalty to the team to recognise what supporters endured that fateful day. The squad at the time were affected and played their part in helping the city grieve and recover. It is a comfort to the families and those who still grieve, that it still matters to so many.
Others do not attend the Memorial Service but pay their own respects elsewhere. The Hillsborough Justice Campaign gathers at the memorial on Anfield Road. Some visit the Book of Remembrance at the city’s Anglican Cathedral while a number of supporters make their way to Sheffield to visit the Hillsborough stadium. For some, it is just a day to be alone, visit the graves of loved ones and sadly remember the details of that day.
Alan Davies tried to claim that we can play 15th April because he doesn’t stay at home on the anniversary of his mother’s death. He may not – but some do. We all experience grief but we all deal with it and cope with it differently. Yet those who remember Hillsborough do not just stay at home. They remember.
Not everyone was at Hillsborough that day. But ask anyone in Liverpool and even beyond, and they can tell you of someone they lost, or someone they knew who lost someone. They remember the feelings and thoughts of that day and what they were doing when they heard the news. They remember the knocks on the door, the phone calls (or lack of), the worry, the fear and – for far too high a number of them – their worst fears being realised. That the loved one they waved off that morning was not ever returning home.
For those who were at Hillsborough, living through such a tragic disaster was beyond their worst nightmares. They remember the journey there, the traffic, the slow crush outside. They remember the bigger crush in the pens behind the goal, experiencing it or witnessing it from other parts of the ground.
They witnessed and experienced horrors that no one could imagine possible. They watched fellow fans, friends and family members die while the authorities stood idly by. They experienced first-hand that a football match was not important. That some things, such as life and death, were actually more important.
These memories don’t just start and finish on 15th April 1989. They aren’t confined to just that year or just that date. It is ongoing. It is a daily occurrence for some to still experience feelings and emotions that none of us would ever want to imagine possible.
Feelings of guilt that they survived but the person next to them did not. Questions about why they survived or why they chose to swap tickets for another stand and they avoided the anguish and despair of the Leppings Lane. Wondering why they turned left or right instead of heading straight down to the central pens. The nightmares. The flashbacks.
Some of those memories are best described here, by those who experienced them – http://www.guardian.co.uk/football/2009/mar/15/hillsborough-disaster-survivors
But Manchester United play on the anniversary of the Munich Air Disaster
They do. As other clubs play on the anniversary of disasters they have experienced. That is their choice, their decision. Since when has what one does determined what another must do? Can it not be that people think differently?
No one disaster is more important than another. But the feelings around it may be. For Liverpool FC and its supporters, our decision and choice is to not play that day. It’s what we believe is right.
So what do we do? Do we ignore all the feelings, emotion, our sense of what we believe is right to play a football match that in the grand scheme of things, isn’t that important?
Or do we do what we choose to – to remember? So if you are sat there thinking “You should play that day”, try and possibly imagine what people have experienced and still experience.
Then magnify it by an infinite number.
Then ask yourself, is it really that important? Many LFC supporters don’t think football is important that day. Some even suggest that if pressed, we forfeit any match if we were expected to play on that day.
And if you still think to yourself “LFC should play on 15th April”, then fine. Just don’t expect us to agree.
And expect us to ask questions and take issue when you think we are so wrong, when you do it so insensitively and when in some cases, you just don’t care about the upset you cause.
We’ve experienced enough to last a lifetime due to that day already.
Very eloquently put and thanks for writing it. A perfect riposte to all those who may question or just not understand what Hillsborough and the 15th April means to LFC and Liverpool itself.
(One slight glitch when I try to share it on Facebook – strangely the article is illustrated on my FB with a big advert to buy a jacket. For now I won’t share it as I don’t think that’s really appropriate. Maybe it’s just me, but it may be the sharing app and worth looking at?)
That will be Facebook searching for an image to use as a thumbnail. It’s nothin to do with TAW blog, just the way Facebook works. Maybe if the article had a picture with it then Facebook would use that, but this one doesn’t.
No point getting irate – the arguments for playing on the day are so thin, they reveal a lack of consideration.
Hopefully, pieces like this are all that are needed for those not just out to cause offence.
Very well put..If people had closure maybe they could move on but they haven’t and they can’t.The club does what it can in holding an annual memorial service to try to ease the anger,grief and sorrow.If it helps just one person get through the day then the club owes that much…What business is it off Davies or the supporters of any other club what Liverpool FC do ??
Paul – you have the option to chose one of 8 thumbnails and also to not include a thumbnail. Hope this helps.
Great article, superbly articulated with an excellent balance.
Excellent, poignant and respectful.
Great article Jay.
I still don’t get it.
You’re written very well and very powerfully but I don’t get it. That’s not me trying to be insensitive or provocative even. I respect that fact you have made that choice and if the authorities and fellow clubs are happy to accommodate LFC it is largely a non issue.
My not understanding does not mean you should infer that I think you’re wrong, I understand grief affects people differently but from the outside looking in, there doesn’t appear to be a compelling reason not to play on that day.
drakerichards (above) does make a pertinent point in that issue doesn’t have closure and I hope it does in light of recent events which MIGHT buy into the argument by the original poster that suggests “he feelings around a Hillsborough may be different to others.
Sometimes you can get ingrained into believing something is right or wrong when in fact it is neither.
Thanks for replying.
Just curious – what is there to get, if as you state the authorities and other clubs are happy to accomodate? Where or how is it an issue for anyone?
There is nothing to get with respect to the fact it’s not an issue and the fact it’s not an issue and has still become an issue is interesting.
The comments came from a non football entity and yet the reaction to them seems a little extreme, well more than a little extreme when you consider they have extended so far as to death threats. So, I don’t get that and I appreciate the reaction of the vocal minority can drown at the rational majority. So I don’t get that.
That said, it’s never a bad thing to discuss such matters rationally and I can understand people very close to the disaster would have no interest in football on that day. What I don’t however understand is people who weren’t involved that day who are so entrenched in the same viewpoint. Yes people react to grief in different ways but this viewpoint seems almost like coordinated grief. That we, as a collective decree this the best way to honour the dead. It’s not that LFC won’t play on that day, it’s the fervour with which it is expressed I don’t get.
Certainly I could understand if LFC said we’ll never play on that day until justice is done. That would serve a purpose and make a positive change.
As said above, at the moment the authorities and it’s members are able to accommodate LFC’s needs. However there is a good chance in the future that it may not be possible to allow for this, for one reason or another and at that stage such a rooted viewpoint will become an issue.
Well put, I for one would rather forfeit a game on the 15th , than ever have to play. Jft96
Lovely article James. As somebody who would struggle to put in to words how I feel on this I read it + felt comforted + even proud. Proud to be part of the Liverpool Football Club family. Good job!
Odd isn’t it how normally smart, sensitive and intelligent folk completely lose the plot when football is on the table?
Davies wasn’t commenting as Alan Davies Comedian/Actor/Stalwart of IQ, he was talking as Alan Davies Arsenal Football Supporter.
All of a sudden it’s not about the death of 96 people, it’s not about how a football club tries to deal with the tragedy, it’s about it not being fair to Chelsea that they have to play on Sunday instead of Liverpool.
It’s about ‘Why does LFC get special treatment when my team doesn’t?’
It’s about ‘Bloody Scousers getting their own way again.’
I’ve never subscribed to the belief that football is a religion. But like religion, football does have its fair share of blinkered, one-eyed bigots, and like religion, it can bring out the worst in people.
And make even a reasonable, smart fella like Davies act like an utter twat.
Exactly…How Alan Davies chooses to acknowledge the anniversary of his mother’s death is his affair as this is ours. If he choose to stay at home with the windows blacked out playing solemn music on a wind up gramophone I would respect his right to do so and wouldn’t be looking to make cheap publicity out of it
I was at Hillsborough. Fortunately in the North Stand and not leppings. My mate was and survived. Worst day of my life.
Every year I can’t stand the thought of watching football on or around this date. Even the 14th is too close for me. It’s still raw.
I’m staying in bed for the semi. I have no interest.
Brave, articulate and sensitive writing. The comments are good too. All those uninitiated in the rawness of feeling should read.
I was there that day and no way could even go to that ground ever again nevermind watching my team play that day, I have a quiet morning then head to the HJC shop, have our little walk round to the memorial and a few messages and a minutes silence, I used to go into the ground but choose not to now for reasons a lot of people can guess, so head back to the shop and spend my time with Gerry. A couple of years ago we was playing Blackburn on the 15th, it did get a little too close for comfort but in the end and thanks to Blackburn Rovers who agreed to a switch of date, think with the help of Mark Hughes. We should never ever play on the 15th IMO but you just know now that a certain game will pop up in the near future and after the mouth called Davies has most probably put idea’s in the Football Leagues heads now.
Oh and anyone remember the following season after the disaster, the football league came out with a great idea to arrange the new league fixtures so we played Sheffield Wednesday away nearest to the anniversary, how insensitive was that, it got moved anyway.
A MESSAGE TO THOSE WHO SAY ‘Why can’t you all just move on, and get over it,’ The Thirst For Truth Burns Eternal, and pain cannot be anaethetised by time when it’s buried beneath a blanket of evil lies..YNWA JF96
It seems to me people can’t wait to have a go or be proven right in their own minds about Hillsborough.We have not just had to fight the Government,The Police and the Press but Public opinion only too happy to allow football allegiances to cloud their opinions of what happened.That is why there was a leak.Public opinion swayed slightly in our favour after the debate.The leak was an attempt to rectify that.There are many reasons for us not to play on the 15th.For me one of the main ones is the continuation of awareness and education to the public outside of Merseyside.Every year they see us fans and staff of the club on tv at the service.Until the truth is out and Justice done we need to do everything in our power to keep that awareness in the public eye.Too many people use Hillsborough for their footballing Agendas.I Was Lucky as were near 20 other friends to come home that day.Others Didn’t come home!We don’t play for them and their families on that day and that is our choice as fans and as a club.
Thanks for putting into words what I could never do. YNWA
No offence Maca lad, but you are an old looking 26 year old!