Tuesday, April 15, 2014

April 15, 1989

25 years ago today we witnessed one of  the worst sporting tragedies in history, the FA Cup semi-final at Hillsborough between Liverpool and Nottingham Forest.
96 souls lost their lives that day and it doesn’t matter which team you supported at the time, or now, but this disaster resonated with every football fan in the country.  In fact, everyone in the country, it didn’t matter if you liked football.
I remember watching the events live on the television as it unfolded.  The telly cameras were there in force for the game and nobody actually knew at the time what was happening.  As fans were trying to get out of the Leppings Lane end onto the pitch, it became apparent that something bad was unfolding.  Visions of people lying on the pitch with terrible injuries still run around in my head.
Fans scrambled out of the terraces
The next day, the newspapers were full of awful photographs of people actually being crushed to death – I can still remember the face of the young man on the front cover of The Sun newspaper, crushed against the fence, quite obviously dying.  It was not only a dark day for football, but a terrible, terrible loss for the families and absolutely atrocious that the newspapers would print such pictures.
It hadn’t been long since I had been to the Sheffield Wednesday ground and actually watched from the Leppings Lane end.  Obviously, you can’t help but consider yourself extremely lucky that it didn’t happen while you were there.  It’s just human nature.
So this last weekend, every Premier League game (probably every game actually) began with a minute’s silence.  The games I watched had a perfect one whole minute of absolute silence.  That’s why it’s called a Minute’s Silence.  Growing up, I remember the whole country coming to a complete standstill in November for the Remembrance Day ceremony.  We would listen to the radio and wait in silence until Big Ben rang out.
Liverpool Honour the 96
Yet I’ve noticed in America, it’s called a Moment’s silence.  How long is a moment?  It is apparently not a whole minute as every time I’ve seen or observed this ‘moment’, it lasts from just a few seconds to much less than a minute and I just don’t understand why.  Americans are so very patriotic about everything, yet they cannot keep quiet for a whole minute.
But today, we should remember the Anfield 96, in silence or not.


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