15th April 1989, Sheffield England. FA Cup Semi Final day. Liverpool vs Nottingham Forest. All that should have been lost that day was the hope of an FA Cup Final place. As it was it was a day that caused 96 people to lose their lives. It has been a long fight for the fans of Liverpool Football Club to clear the names of their fallen, who were blamed for the Hillsborough disaster. A fight which continues some 24 years on.
Today we played Liverpool at the Madejski Stadium. (0-0 Final Score) We observed a minute silence for the 96 who lost their lives at Hillsborough. I thought although time has moved on, the game that we share and the love for our respective clubs shall forever remain. Thankfully there are now safety regulations in place that should prevent such a terrible disaster occurring again. All seater stadiums, Police surveillance, prohibited items. Fireworks and flares for example are not allowed, by stadium rules. Fans found with such items could face a football banning order (stopping them attending any match anywhere in the UK) or even prison.
So “Justice for the 96” sang the Liverpool end. Rightly so.
“Lets all do the conga, cos Maggie is no longer.” OK Macabre but I can see why Liverpool fans might rejoice in the death of a woman who presided over a botched enquiry into the death of their loved ones. Football humour has always been dark.
However. At kick off, a certain section of Liverpool fans let off a huge red smoke flare. Then at various points during the first half let off fireworks. Both prohibited by stadium rules, and endangering the wellbeing of others in their end. Police did nothing as far as I saw, there were no loud bangs in the second half so I assume either the Police did something quietly at half time or simply that there were no more fireworks to be set off.
There are two sets of double standards here as far as I can see. Firstly, if Reading fans even as much as stand up during the game they are told instantly by stewards to sit. Liverpool fans stood throughout. If a Reading fan took a flare into a away ground. They would be looking at a night in a cell. Apparently it is ok for Liverpool fans.
The second set of double standards is the issue I have most problem getting my head around. 96 people died, but they did not die in vein. Because of those people we now have a better game to see, in better equipped and safer venues. A game which can be enjoyed by all, safe in the knowledge that for 99% of the time the only thing that will be hurt at football is pride.
99% because there is always that 1% of people. Morons who don’t have a thought in their head. Don’t sing of Justice for those killed at a football match, whilst standing, running up and down the stands without a care for those around you. Don’t sing of Justice and light a flare, a flare which induce an asthma attack and kill someone. Don’t sing of Justice and let off a firework which could explode and kill one more of your own.