Brief views on the incredible solidarity of mersyside in the most tragic circumstances.

Bringing People Together

There are two types of people, the people who can feel and understand the passion involved in football and the people who can’t. Those of you who have ever uttered the phrase ‘it’s only a game’ are most likely in the latter camp. There is the obvious sense of euphoria involved in watching your team score a last minute winner or the magic moment they pick up some silverware however for me it is the sense of community involved in the game which matters the most. Football brings people together and this opportunity to bond with friends by supporting your team through thick and thin, even after a drab one nil defeat away to Scunthorpe, is impossible to find elsewhere. There is of course the ugly side to the game where people lose control of their passion and mistake it as a reason to resort to violence or launch obscenities from the stands however I feel it is far more productive to avoid giving those involved the limelight they so dearly crave. Previously I have discussed how fans have united to form supporter owned clubs in opposition to their issues with the modern game however that seems insignificant when looking at examples of the solidarity of football supporters in the face of much bigger adversity.

A City United

The 15th April 1989 was a terrible day for football. The Hillsborough disaster which saw 96 lives tragically lost because of the avoidable overcrowding of confined pens on the terraces was in no doubt avoidable. To this day there has still not been justice for the families of those who met such sad consequences.  It would be wrong of me to delve into the political debate surrounding Hillsborough because I don’t feel that I could do justice to all those with an emotional connection to the disaster however I would like to discuss how football supporters across the city of Liverpool united to provide support for one and other.

The unity of football supporters across Liverpool first caught my attention during the media build up to the FA Cup semi-final at Wembley last season. It would be the first time Liverpool and Everton had faced each other at the national stadium since the cup final in 1989, shortly after Hillsborough. Kenny Dalglish had spoken openly in the weeks building up to the game about how it was a fitting opportunity for supporters of both clubs to come together and mark the 23rd anniversary of the tragedy. I then watched with admiration 90,000 fans put aside rivalry to impeccability observe a minutes silence in tribute to the victims of that day.

I continued to research how despite the rivalry between the two clubs, the events of 15th April 1989, had united the city and both sets of fans in a campaign for justice for the truth to be revealed surrounding the causes of what happened that day. This unity was perhaps best symbolized by the mile long chain of Everton and Liverpool scarves which connected Anfield to Goodison Park in a tribute thought up of by local taxi drivers. Another example can be found in Liverpool’s first competitive game following Hillsborough, which fittingly came in a Merseyside derby at Anfield. For once there was no ill feeling amongst the sea of red shirts towards their opposition fans, instead two banners were unfurled which summed up the emotions inside the stadium. Prior to kick off Liverpool supporters walked around the pitch holding a banner with the simple message: ‘LFC fans thank EFC fans’, whilst in the away end another banner was on display: ‘The Kop Thanks You We Never Walked Alone’. 23 years on and this statement could not be truer.