At six minutes past three on April 15 I guess had the same thoughts in my head as about 10,000 others must have had. Twenty years that might never have happened. All the stuff that has made up my life over those two decades would have been rendered null and void. But for a few feet and a whole tonne of luck, I might well have made the 96 dead at Hillsborough into 97. It is one of those grey goose walking over the grave thoughts. I mentioned to my youngest son Courtney that but for those few feet he would never have happened. I don't think he could really get his head around that. Probably best that he didn't. To be honest, I have never been much of a Memorial type of person but for some reason for a few months in the run up to the twentieth anniversay of Hillsborough I had a small nagging voice in my head telling me that I should go to Anfield for the day. Why? I haven't got a clue. No explanation whatsoever. It just felt right somehow. So I went along with my dad whose memories of the day are a little different to mine. He sat and watched the whole thing unravel from the stands, all the time wondering if he still had a son. No way to spend a sunny afternoon in April.
The coverage has of course been huge this year, right down to the Anfield event being screened live on the tele. Some of it has given me a slight insight into how flashbacks work for the soldiers we see at First Base with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. I heard one lad on the radio remembering how he and others had managed to roll a guy who had passed out over the fence. And how he fell from the top of the fence and hit the floor like a side of meat. And then never moved ever again. And eventually someone threw a jacket over his head. This brought everything back to me as I had watched the thing happen from where I was standing a few feet away in the adjoining pen. The difference was that my pen was as sparsely populated as a terrace at an end of season game at a non league stadium. A few feet away the bodies were packed tight enough to kill. If I ever see anyone lying on the floor with their shirt hitched up around their waist, I am imediately taken back to those desperate moments.
At long last it seems like the politicians will finally be forced to release all the information about what happened. Twenty bloody years! maybe we should feel honoured. It took the bastards nearly thirty years to make a show of trying to get to the bottom of Bloody Sunday. It really hit me at Anfield the other day that they picked the wrong bunch of people to try and shut up. It would take a lot to shut up the city of Liverpool. I suppose that was what ultimately made me want to be there. Supporting Liverpool has been a big thing in my life for as far back as I can remember. But before Hillsborough it was more or less about supporting a bloody successful football team. After Hillsborough everything changed. Being there, surviving it, watching it sort of moved everything onto a completely different plane. Without Hillsborough, Istanbul would only have been half the event that it was. Hillsborough was the ultimate act of London giving the north a kicking. Why were the police such complete and utter bastards that day? Maybe because they had been given licence by the government to do absolutely what they pleased during the Miner's Strike. They had been allowed to kick the shit out of anyone in a pair of jeans and a Tee Shirt and nobody said a thing about it. In fact half the country cheered. After all, they were only northern miners. Served the bastards right. 96 Scousers crushed to death in pens? Served the bastards right. Just imagine the fuss there would have been if 96 stray dogs had been packed into a tiny cage and suffocated. My oh my wouldn't there have been wailing and gnashing of teeth from Hampstead and Welling Garden City. 96 Scouse Football fans? Sod 'em. Surely it had to be their own fault. It was the greatest crime aqgainst the North since Peterloo. And they expect us to let bygones be bygones and buy the bloody Sun.
They can all rot in hell first.