Wednesday, 22 April 2015

Hillsborough - Upbeat?

What a few days it has been. What a week, what a year.

We began last week with the sad internet troll trying to belittle us.  We fought it and we rose above it.  We paid our respects at the Memorial Service on Wednesday and the emotions overwhelmed some.  A group of intrepid heroes inspired and humbled us by running from Hillsborough to Anfield over two days.  Then on Sunday it gelled as our community, its football clubs and many others, joined the inaugural Run For The 96 5k in Stanley Park.

Where to start? Well this time last year a group of us had just got home from a walk from Hillsborough to Anfield, We Never Walked Alone. It was an experience that will live long in my memory, a great experience, I am so glad that I was part of it.  Then, like at the weekend, LFC had great expectations only to see them slip away.

More importantly the inquests began  and in that time the families have, through their heartfelt pen portraits, put a name, a face, and a real person in place of the number that before then their loved ones had been known.   

They have listened to evidence and heard reluctant admissions from people who should have had some balls many years ago. It's been a tough year for the families and those who were there on the day and still feel the guilt of survival. The inquests are underway again and it's important that we all take care of what we say and post. 

What I will say is that everyone involved has my 100% support and that will never waiver.

I attended the memorial service at Anfield which as usual was emotional and I was pleased to have Sofie, my daughter, at my side again supporting me.  It was also nice to be accompanied by other great friends that day.  

Other friends attended the memorial in Old Haymarket to pay their respects whilst others paid their respects in other cities both here and all over the world or by simply pulling over in their car or stepping outside of work at 3:06 to reflect. Many of course also Wore Red the 96 to show their support.

It doesn't matter where or how anyone pays their respects. It's that we still do 26 years down the line and we always will as the younger generation like Sofie, not born in 1989, know the significance of what happened that day and will never forget.

Moving on to last weekend when the Hillsborough - Anfield Run team got back to Anfield after their two day run, which as I said at the time I felt humbled as I welcomed them back to Anfield after their amazing effort. Well done to each of you!


Then it was Sunday and the inaugural Run For The 96 5k in Stanley Park. I'm not a runner but I love walking and I decided to be a little different in my approach to the 5k. This would after all be the one and only time I would run a 5k, wouldn't it!?

My plan was to walk from home to the run, I had walked to Anfield from home before and the route I took was exactly 9.6 miles - a total coincidence! 

So on Sunday morning I set off at 7am aiming to get to Stanley Park 9:15 and the start of the 5k.  It was great to have some company on the walk as Andy stepped up his training for the Rock n Roll Marathon by walking there with me and jogging back home! Cheers mate!

The walk was enjoyable and we arrived in Stanley Park bang on time! Straight away despite the vast crowd there were friendly faces and hugs a plenty.  I then found Kenny, Carolyn and the girls waiting patiently on the start line. 


My plan was start with a little jog and then walk the 5k but as I set off, in my walking boots, I had a Forrest Gump moment and I was off! Young Sarah accompanied me around the course and somehow had the breath to tell me stories from start to finish! 


There was something happening in those few hours on Sunday morning. Here I was at a Hillsborough event feeling upbeat, happy even.  I have heard and read much in the few days since.  I certainly wasn't the only one who felt this, it seems everyone there felt the same!  

Well done to Dom Williams and the team for thinking up and seeing through this wonderful event to its successful conclusion.  Well done also Dom for getting through it on your crutches, I hope that you recover from the injury quickly.

As for this being my last 5k I think not. I'll be back every year that I am able, inspired by everyone who took part and this special moment....

Photograph: P. Tichen Photography

See you next year!

Thursday, 16 April 2015

The Hillsborough Memorial - Remembering the 96 #JFT96

The Hillsborough Memorial in Old Haymarket Liverpool marks the 26th Anniversary of the Hillsborough Disaster. Floral tributes placed at the memorial which was commissioned by the Hillsborough Justice Campaign (HJC) and created by local sculptor Tom Murphy show that 26 years on 96 fans who never came home are always remembered.  More photographs on Flickr 

Saturday, 11 April 2015

Is time a healer? The Hillsborough Disaster 26 Years On

It's not something that can ever be erased from my mind and nor should it. This week marks 26 years since fate allowed me to escape the hell of Leppings Lane whilst dealing a fatal blow to 96 fellow fans.

At this time of year my emotions, my guilt, the images and all that goes with that day are at their peak. They are always there, lurking in the back of my subconscious awaiting the slightest trigger to force them to the surface and change what may have been being a fantastic day into one that I can't wait to end.

This last week has been a tough one. Starting with someone trying to tout Hillsborough Memorial tickets, how dare he!

Hillsborough Memorial Tickets are FREE!

This was followed swiftly by the vile, disgusting Facebook pages appearing over the week. I'll not name them, I wouldn't give them the satisfaction of the publicity they clearly crave. The person(s) behind the pages and those that follow them are the lowest of the low. I believe in karma but I hope that the police catch up with them too and that they are suitably punished.

Early Thursday morning I had had enough. I am generally a strong person but knowing the effect the pages were having on me I was concerned at what the vile content would do to the families of those who didn't come home and I felt emotionally drained. I had to do something so I took to Twitter to ask for help from the media to find the scum behind the pages.

Radio City contacted me for which I am grateful (Thank you BBC for your interest!) and I reluctantly agreed to give a short interview. I decided to do this as I really want those behind the pages named, shamed and brought to book. My interview was aired, although I haven't heard it, and I hope that I got the right message across so that people can understand the damage these people do.

At this time of year, and with the inquests continuing, there are enough things keeping Hillsborough and its horror in the forefront of our minds without these faceless morons hiding behind a screen pushing vile abusive words and images and mocking the dead.

I am lucky to have supportive family and friends around me who understand how a little thing can push me down, even after 26 years, and they can help pick me back up by simply being there, giving me space, listening (although I rarely speak of it) and time. I'm sure that some people are not so lucky.

The sands of time are passing and perhaps closure of some description will come. The memories however will linger and 96 Angels will never be forgotten.