Home Sec: Hillsborough docs to be released as soon as possible

Another step has been taken in the 20-year battle for justice for the victims of the Hillsborough disaster in 1989.

Home Secretary Jacqui Smith said in a statement: “The Government is committed to helping those who lost loved ones in the Hillsborough tragedy. That is why I will be working with colleagues in the Ministry of Justice, the Department for Culture, Media and Sport, and the Attorney General’s Office to put out any information that exists that could shed light on the disaster and its aftermath in the public domain as soon as possible.”

Normally those documents would become public after 30 years had passed, but following renewed pressure on Andy Burnham – Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport – the paperwork is to be made available ten years early.

Ninety-six Liverpool fans died on April 15th 1989 – or as a result of injuries sustained on that day – after police opened an exit gate to let thousands of fans into the ground, failing to prevent those thousands of fans from entering two already overcrowded central pens when side pens were relatively empty.

It was an FA Cup semi-final between Liverpool and Nottingham Forest, held in a stadium in Sheffield that didn’t even have a valid safety certificate. Hundreds more fans were injured; hundreds more were severely traumatised psychologically after witnessing and experiencing horrors that could so easily have been prevented.

Not only were grave errors were made in the lead-up to the disaster, but within minutes of the first people losing their lives efforts were already being made by the authorities to cover up the true cause.

Twenty years on there is still evidence that has never been seen by the families of the victims.

Twenty years on and individuals who worked for South Yorkshire police that day still try to deflect the blame.

When Andy Burnham stood at Anfield to make a speech at the 20th memorial service, he got a little taste of just how deep the feelings are amongst Liverpool supporters – and for that matter, supporters of many other clubs – that it was time justice was done, that it was time the truth came out.

Around 30,000 people had assembled at Anfield – and his speech was interrupted as the vast majority of those 30,000 chanted “Justice for the 96”. And this was at a memorial service, not a football match – it’s safe to say this response might have been even louder had it been at an actual game.

Continue reading Home Sec: Hillsborough docs to be released as soon as possible

Charlie says sorry – but still must go

Suspended goalkeeper Charles Itandje has apologised for his disrespectful behaviour during the Hillsborough memorial service on Wednesday – but it really is a case of too little, far too late.

TV footage clearly showed Itandje fooling around during the service, incapable of conducting himself appropriately even for that short amount of time, the only time he’s been on duty in any form at Anfield this season.

The club announced his suspension in a brief statement: “Charles Itandje has now been officially suspended for 14 days by the club while we investigate his conduct during the Hillsborough Memorial Service.”

The club website also said Itandje had told to stay away from Melwood: “On the instructions of team manager Rafa Benitez, the French goalkeeper was told not to attend training yesterday as the club conducts an investigation into his actions during Wednesday’s memorial service at Anfield.”

The player’s apology was through the Liverpool Echo, who he told: “First of all, if my behaviour has caused offence to anyone then I can only apologise.

“I am sorry. I am sorry. I am sorry. A thousand times, I am sorry. To the club, to the fans and especially to the families, I am deeply sorry. It was, of course, never my intention to offend or disrespect anyone.”

It’s difficult to work out what his intention was, but it certainly, clearly, wasn’t to show any respect to the ninety-six fans who died, to their families, and to the countless others who suffered unspeakable traumas that stay with them until this day.

It certainly seems he’s aware now of just why his actions were wrong: “The events at Hillsborough were a tragedy and in no way did I mean to disrespect the memory of what happened 20 years ago. I would never do that. I would like to speak to the families in person to offer my apologies to them because, like I said, I never meant to hurt anyone.”

Itandje’s attitude has been called into question by fans for some time. Allegations have been made that he has over-indulged in the city’s nightlife during his time here, also dragging at least one of the club’s impressionable and once-promising youngsters into a world that is very-much removed from what a top club would expect from its professional sportsmen.

The club don’t stop their players from going out and having a good time – but it isn’t difficult to work out which nights are best spent in front of the TV and early to bed.

The allegations tie in with the reports that Rafa Benítez tried in the last two transfer window to offload the player – who hasn’t even had a place on the bench this season. These allegations first surfaced last season, when his rare performances left a lot to be desired, and included hints at his lateness or absence from training on more than one occasion.

On a handsome wage, a wage he gets whether he plays or not, Itandje has so far exercised his right to refuse any moves elsewhere, choosing instead to pick up that wage for doing very little at all.

Clubs are generally only allowed to fine players a maximum of two weeks’ wages. The fact Liverpool have announced an investigation alongside an immediate two week suspension has led to suggestions that they may be looking at ways to terminate his contract on the grounds of what in normal employment might be termed “gross misconduct”.

Only time will tell if this apology becomes his farewell message, but it’s difficult to envisage a situation where he would ever be welcomed onto the field again by Liverpool fans.

And those younger players said to have been taken in by the Frenchman, said to be risking their own careers by joining him in his frolics, would do well to reconsider their opinions of him if they want a career in football at any club, let alone Liverpool.

King Kenny to come back?

Liverpool fans woke this morning to a piece of news that could see an extremely difficult week end on a high note.

The Liverpool Echo have reported that Kenny Dalglish could be about to make a return to Anfield as part of the team Rafael Benítez is setting up in his quest to turn the football side of operations around at the club.

According to Tony Barrett, Rafa has already raised the idea with the club’s owners Tom Hicks and George Gillett and is desperate to see the move sealed as soon as possible. Informal talks are said to have taken place between the two and it seems that in principle the legend will be happy to come back.

The report says Rafa sees Kenny in a role where he would concentrate in particular on providing advice on youth development, but that as well as spending time at the Academy he’d also be involved at Melwood and Anfield. This news comes after the appointment of Frank McParland to investigate the Academy set-up with a view to improving its value to the club.

Kenny’s status at Liverpool Football Club is such that only those with something to hide would have any concerns about his appointment. He’s never been known to make knee-jerk comments on situations the rest of us might have blown our tops over; when he has been critical he’s always been constructive, he has always stood by that criticism.

Kenny left Anfield in the aftermath of the Hillsborough disaster, needing a break from the pressure that had long-since passed the levels any other football manager is likely to ever face. He’d already gone from a legend on the field to a legend as manager; in 1989 he became a legend as a man.

The Hillsborough disaster saw Liverpool lose 96 fans, with many more injured and permanently traumatised. Kenny went to funerals, visited patients in hospital, spoke with families and helped organise his players to ensure nobody missed out on support from the club.

When Kelvin McKenzie pleaded for help after printing lies, headlined “The Truth”, that would lead to an ongoing 20-year boycott of ‘newspaper’ The Sun, Kenny’s advice was simple: Print the real truth, under a headline, “We Lied” in the same size font. McKenzie said he couldn’t do that – Kenny told him that he couldn’t help him then.

Liverpool won the FA Cup after Hillsborough, and the following season “King Kenny” steered Liverpool to their 18th title.  That was the last time the club won it.

He left the following season after struggling with all that pressure, two days after a 4-4 FA Cup draw with Everton. But with hindsight it is clear the club failed to recognise what had happened, as Kenny later said: “I needed the break, I needed the rest. After two weeks I got what I needed and I’d have been ready to go back, but the phone never rang. No one ever asked me how I was doing or whether I’d reconsider and the club went on and appointed Graeme.”

He’s referring of course to Graeme Souness, once a hero on the field but something far from it as manager. Fans blame Souness for the Liverpool downturn, and even if that was forgivable his decision to sell his heart-surgery story to The Sun will never be forgiven.

So now the club’s owners have a chance to make amends for the huge errors of judgement made 18 years ago by their predecessors. If – as reported – Rafa’s happy to bring Kenny back and Kenny’s happy to come back on the terms Rafa has in mind, then it’s the easiest decision Tom Hicks or George Gillett could ever make as owners of this club.

We look forward to his return.

It’s time we were told: Why?

My youngest daughter looked at me on Thursday lunchtime and said: “I’ve never seen you cry before Dad.”

I was reading one of the papers at the time, one of the many pages about the day before’s service. I was surprised at what she said. “Are you sure?” I asked. She insisted she was right.

I’ve cried time and time again over Hillsborough, something I’m not ashamed to admit. But most of the time there’s an instinctive feeling that the tears have to be hidden. Dig your fingernails into the palms of your hand, bite your bottom lip, try to turn your thoughts to something else – anything but let the tears roll down.

That instinct seems stronger in front of your own children. You’re there to protect them from the monsters under the bed and the bullies at school, to tell them everything’s okay even if it isn’t; you can’t really cry in front of them. So you wait until they aren’t there, until you’re on your own.

But this time, sitting at the table with her, the tears had rolled down my face and my voice was breaking up as I was speaking to her.

“It’s okay dad! I don’t mind you crying. I know why you’re crying.”

And she did know. Continue reading It’s time we were told: Why?

Rest in Peace. The ninety-six

Twenty years ago today ninety-six of our supporters went to see a game of football. They never came home again, their lives cruelly and needlessly taken from them.

Ninety-six who will never be forgotten. Ninety-six who will never walk alone.

Rest in peace.

  • Jon-Paul Gilhooley 10
  • Philip Hammond 14
  • Lee Nicol 14
  • Thomas Anthony Howard 14
  • Paul Brian Murray 14
  • Adam Edward Spearritt 14
  • Kevin Tyrrell 15
  • Peter Andrew Harrison 15
  • Victoria Jane Hicks 15
  • Philip John Steele 15
  • Kevin Daniel Williams 15
  • Kester Roger Marcus Ball 16
  • Nicholas Michael Hewitt 16
  • Martin Kevin Traynor 16
  • Simon Bell 17
  • Keith McGrath 17
  • Carl Darren Hewitt 17
  • Stephen Francis O’Neill 17
  • Steven Joseph Robinson 17
  • Henry Charles Rogers 17
  • Stuart Paul William Thompson 17
  • Graham John Wright 17
  • Carl Brown 18
  • Paul Clark 18
  • John McBrien 18
  • Jonathon Owens 18
  • James Gary Aspinall 18
  • Christopher Barry Devonside 18
  • Gary Philip Jones 18
  • Carl David Lewis 18
  • Colin Wafer 19
  • Colin Mark Ashcroft 19
  • Paul William Carlile 19
  • Gary Christopher Church 19
  • James Philip Delaney 19
  • Sarah Louise Hicks 19
  • David William Mather 19
  • Ian David Whelan 19
  • Stephen Paul Copoc 20
  • Ian Thomas Glover 20
  • Gordon Rodney Horn 20
  • Peter McDonnell 21
  • Paul David Brady 21
  • Thomas Steven Fox 21
  • Marion Hazel McCabe 21
  • Joseph Daniel McCarthy 21
  • Carl William Rimmer 21
  • Peter Francis Tootle 21
  • Tony Bland 22
  • Gary Collins 22
  • David John Benson 22
  • David William Birtle 22
  • Tracey Elizabeth Cox 23
  • William Roy Pemberton 23
  • Colin Andrew Hugh William Sefton 23
  • David Leonard Thomas 23
  • Peter Andrew Burkett 24
  • Derrick George Godwin 24
  • Graham John Roberts 24
  • Richard Jones 25
  • David Steven Brown 25
  • Barry Sidney Bennett 26
  • Andrew Mark Brookes 26
  • Paul Anthony Hewitson 26
  • Paula Ann Smith 26
  • Christopher James Traynor 26
  • Barry Glover 27
  • Gary Harrison 27
  • Christine Anne Jones 27
  • Nicholas Peter Joynes 27
  • Francis Joseph McAllister 27
  • Alan McGlone 28
  • Joseph Clark 29
  • Christopher Edwards 29
  • Alan Johnston 29
  • James Robert Hennessy 29
  • Anthony Peter Kelly 29
  • Martin Kenneth Wild 29
  • Peter Reuben Thompson 30
  • Stephen Francis Harrison 31
  • Eric Hankin 33
  • Vincent Michael Fitzsimmons 34
  • Roy Harry Hamilton 34
  • Patrik John Thompson 35
  • Inger Shah 38
  • Michael David Kelly 38
  • Brian Christopher Mathews 38
  • David George Rimmer 38
  • David Hawley 39
  • Thomas Howard 39
  • Arthur Horrocks 41
  • Eric George Hughes 42
  • Henry Thomas Burke 47
  • Raymond Thomas Chapman 50
  • John Alfred Anderson 62
  • Gerard Bernard Patrick Baron 67

LiverpoolFC.TV – “Forever Young”.

Liverpool bow out of Champions League

Few people really expected anything else to happen to Liverpool last night than for them to exit from this season’s Champions League. A 3-1 defeat at home six days earlier meant they had a mountain to climb going into the game – they had to score three times against the side with the tightest defence in the Premier League this season.

Liverpool have done it before. In fact they did it twice on their way to bringing home their fifth European Cup; against Olympiakos at Anfield and of course Milan in Istanbul. But last night really did seem to be about playing for pride, because overturning that score seemed a tall order. Nobody was even 100% certain if Rafa Benítez would choose his strongest side. All we wanted was for our players to leave Stamford Bridge with some pride.

With the twentieth anniversary of Hillsborough the following day, memories related to the unnecessary loss of ninety-six lives were filling thoughts more than this game was. Not having to play on the anniversary itself was something Liverpool insisted on, and that is as much as they really can insist on. But playing so close to the anniversary means that a game becomes a temporary diversion from what’s really on our minds. That’s not to say it makes any difference to the performance of the professionals on the field; but it is difficult as a supporter to treat the game the same as any other, in many different ways.

Those professionals on the field were determined to show that Liverpool weren’t going out without a fight. The fans that travelled were, as always, determined to show that their support will always be as strong, regardless of what happens on or off the pitch. If anything, adversary strengthens that support, it adds more determination to fight for what we want – success on the field, justice off it.

In the end the game ended 4-4, 5-7 on aggregate, a massive contrast to the low-scoring battles these two sides have had in their previous European meetings. It’s easy to forget that this time four years ago the two sides had never met each other in any of the European competitions. And up until the end of normal time in last season’s semi-final second-leg, neither side had managed more than a single goal in any of those games.

Steven Gerrard had been a sub on Saturday as Liverpool beat Blackburn 4-0, injury keeping him out of the starting line-up. He trained before this match, but didn’t even make the bench. Liverpool did well without him – but how much better would they have done had he been available? No doubt that is a question that some observers will ask whilst suggesting that he could have played, even if only as a sub. But how long might he have been out for had he aggravated that injury after being risked?

Chelsea’s captain was missing too – suspended after being booked at Anfield – and the London side would no doubt be complaining long into the summer had their loss of four goals been enough to see them knocked out. But that would be unfair to Liverpool – and the four goals weren’t enough.

It would also have been unfair to blame it all on Petr Cech – but the Chelsea goalkeeper will not be happy with his performance last night. He looked shaky throughout, a shadow of the goalkeeper who helped Chelsea to their successes under Jose Mourinho. But at times there is too much of a rush to pin blame on a player for the side that conceded, or the officials, rather than just handing some praise to the team that got the goal.

And for the opening goal on 19 minutes, the one that set this game off on a path towards the likelihood of getting its own DVD in the Chelsea official shop, it’s easy to blame Cech. He had a box full of players in front of him as Fabio Aurelio waited by the right touchline to take a free kick, and Cech and everybody else expected Aurelio to float a ball into the box in the hope that a Red shirt would get to it first. Cech tried to keep an eye on what was happening in his box, making sure every one of those Red shirts had a blue one attached to it. What he didn’t keep an eye on was the gap he’d left between himself and the post.

If that was a mistake on Cech’s part, it still takes something special to score in such a situation. And Aurelio produced that something special, aiming perfectly, sending the ball just inside the post with his left foot. As he celebrated he pointed to the bench, as if to acknowledge a pre-arranged tip he’d had about Cech’s positioning at free-kicks, but even with a tip-off it was a perfectly-hit effort that is worthy of a place in any goal-of-the-season list.

Confidence plays a massive part in football, which is a big part of why managers enjoy – or not – their little mind games with each other. Liverpool hadn’t just scored; they’d scored in a way that noticeably knocked Chelsea’s confidence.

Branislav Ivanovic had been Chelsea’s hero in the first leg, scoring twice, and although his two goals would eventually prove to be what separated the two sides, he was the one who really gave Liverpool the belief they could actually come out of this tie victorious. Even European referees tend to ignore a lot of the pushing and pulling that goes on in the penalty area, but they rarely ignore the type of two-armed grip on a player Ivanovic had on Alonso and the Reds were awarded a penalty.

Steven Gerrard has been taking Liverpool’s pens for most of this season, but with him in the stands the responsibility fell to Alonso himself. Memories of Istanbul were flooding back; the image of Alonso, tongue out, about to try and steer a penalty past the massive frame of Dida and give Liverpool their unlikely equalising third goal. Of course Dida saved that pen – but Xabi blasted the rebound into the roof of the net and earned his permanent place in Liverpool folklore.

Xabi had scored a penalty for Spain in the recent international break, and was full of confidence when taking this one. He scored. It was 2-0 to Liverpool. It was 3-3 on aggregate, Chelsea ahead thanks to the away goals rule. One more goal from Liverpool would put them in front overall. And with only 28 minutes gone, one more goal seemed a certainty.

Chelsea were rattled, there’s no doubt at all about that. With the game being played on the eve of the anniversary it was difficult not to compare their situation with that of Liverpool in 1989 on the belated last day of the season. That was a night when Liverpool only had to avoid losing by two clear goals on their own ground to win the league. Liverpool players who talk about it now recall how difficult the game was in terms of how to approach it, how they just weren’t used to the idea of playing to avoid losing, as opposed to playing to win. Liverpool lost 2-0 that night, the second goal coming in the fourth hour of injury time. After what they’d all been through in the weeks before that fixture, nobody in their right mind faulted any of those players that night.

Chelsea’s temporary coach Guus Hiddink could see how rattled his side were, and decided it was time to make a change. Some managers would have made a defensive change, to try to avoid conceding that one more goal Liverpool needed. Hiddink brought on former Liverpool striker Nicolas Anelka, with nine minutes still on the clock for the first half. He knew holding on just wasn’t an option.

Chelsea survived until the end of the half, and then that confidence pendulum swung back their way.

Anelka crossed the ball across the ground towards Drogba, who battle with Skrtel to get a touch on it. Somehow he did, and although it was the slightest touch it was enough to totally deceive Reina. Chelsea had a goal back. Some will call it an own goal, Reina will be happy to see Drogba given the credit.

This goal knocked Liverpool’s confidence as noticeably as Aurelio’s opener had knocked Chelsea’s. It was good work from Drogba to get to the ball and unfortunate for Reina that he’d already started thinking about how he was going to gather the ball and send it forward to Torres for that third goal we needed. It looked like a blunder, and heads went down for a moment. But it made no difference at all to Liverpool’s task, if only they could remember that. They still needed to score three times in all to stay in, and if they did Chelsea would still need two goals in all to knock the Reds out.

Chelsea had also worked out by now that they could get some cheap free-kicks out of this referee. The Spanish official certainly didn’t have the approach of a Premier League official to any contact between players, and Chelsea used this fact to their advantage time and again by drawing a free-kick. By the end of the night they’d had twice the number of free-kicks Liverpool had been given. Within six minutes of scoring their opener, Drogba had seen a free-kick go about as close to the post as possible without actually hitting it. A minute later and he’d won another free-kick. The ball was lofted forward by Chelsea, and Drogba was backing into Jamie Carragher who was standing his ground. As the ball came near the two of them Carragher stepped back a little to get to the ball, which was the prompt for Drogba to hit the deck. Alex stepped up to take this one, and deserves a lot of praise for how well he took it. Reina could do nothing about it, and surely now Liverpool’s hopes had gone. It was 5-3 on aggregate, 2-2 on the night.

But Liverpool weren’t done, and kept fighting to get back into it. Having started the half needing one goal they now needed two, and went all out to get them. Unfortunately this left Liverpool exposed to the counter-attack, and on 76 minutes Lampard capitalised, putting the score to 6-3 on aggregate. With less than quarter of an hour left, and three goals needed once again, Rafa Benítez decided it was time to withdraw Torres and reduce any risk of injury to his prized striker.

But this is Liverpool of course, and Liverpool, particularly of late, seem determined to show as much fight on the field as those looking for justice off it have shown for the last twenty years. Liverpool take setbacks on the chin – and then fight back. Four minutes after going 6-3 down on aggregate Lucas got one back for the Reds. Then two minutes later Kuyt headed home another, it was 6-5 on aggregate and Liverpool had seven minutes plus stoppage time to score the one goal that would send them through.

But it wasn’t to be. With one minute left and Liverpool determined to get that single goal, Lampard got another one back for Chelsea.

In the end time had just run out on this particular fight, because had there been another 20 minutes on the clock there’s little doubt more goals would have come.

After going into the match looking for the chance to restore a bit of pride, Liverpool left the match knowing they’d done far more than that. All Liverpool’s hope for silverware this season now hinge on winning their own league games and hoping Manchester United draw a couple of theirs, which of course means the chances remain quite slim.

And although Ferguson doesn’t like us talking about him, it’s got to be mentioned that as he – no-doubt – celebrated last night he’ll have had that nagging doubt in the back of his mind about how maybe, just maybe, Liverpool’s long fight for league title number nineteen could finally be won this season.

With one point more on the board, plus one game in hand, Ferguson’s side can finish four points above the Reds at the end of the season, even if Liverpool win all their games. It’s not an easy task to win every game from now until the end of the season. But it’s not an easy task for either side. And one side out of the two is currently scoring goals for fun; the other is relying on a teenager to bail them out.

One side has all its main stars queuing up to sign new contracts. The other has its main star allegedly at odds with his manager, having missed out on a high-profile move abroad last summer.

Both sides see winning the league as important – but only one side would see missing out on it now as throwing it away.

Liverpool get a week off now, playing again on Tuesday night against an Arsenal side who have two cup games to play before then. Manchester have two games of their own before their next league match on Wednesday of next week.

This season for Liverpool may well end without any silverware, but there is a strong feeling that fans are witnessing the start of a new era, and events that will be looked back on as pivotal in the club’s future history. Only time will tell if that’s true of course.

In the meantime all thoughts now turn to an event that took place twenty years ago. Anfield will play host, as it has for the past twenty years, to a special service of remembrance for all those who died as a result of the 1989 disaster at the Hillsborough stadium in Sheffield. Save for the inevitable minorities who see it as an opportunity to be exploited with the aim of hurting others, it’s a day when football rivalries are put to one side. It’s a day when decent fans of many other clubs go out of their way to show pass on their condolences and show their respect for what happened, in words if not in person – and that includes fans of Liverpool’s biggest rivals.

All are welcome at Anfield today. Ninety-six candles will be lit, ninety-six names of individuals who lost their lives needlessly. It’s a time to reflect. It’s a time of indescribable sadness. It’s a time when the fight for justice goes on hold for a short time; heads bowed as we pause to remember. But that service serves also as a means of recharging the batteries that power that ongoing fight to make sure the truth finally, once and for all, comes out about how so many people could lose their lives at a football match.

There has always been hope in our hearts – but never as much hope as we have now. The battles continue and the wars will be won.

Justice for the ninety-six.

Rest in Peace. You’ll Never Walk Alone.

Thanks Stephen

Stephen Warnock yesterday made a gesture that will live long in my memory, and I’m sure I speak for countless Liverpool fans who feel very much the same.

As he walked across the Anfield turf, carrying a floral tribute from his club Blackburn Rovers to our ninety-six victims, he was walking through an atmosphere heavy with the kind of emotions that really should never have been present inside any kind of sporting venue.

It’s always a difficult time of year. But this year the anniversary of Hillsborough somehow feels more intense.

Stephen battled back from two broken legs during his time as an Academy player for Liverpool, eventually breaking into the first team right at the beginning of Rafael Benítez’s time as Liverpool boss.

He made 67 appearances for the club but was unable to convince Benítez to make him a regular first-choice, at a time when few players could describe themselves as first-choice. His competition on the left-hand-side of the pitch included John Arne Riise, Fabio Aurelio and Mark Gonzales.

He nearly moved to Blackburn when Liverpool made an offer for Lucas Neill – he’d have been used in part-exchange – but when Lucas chose higher wages and a relegation battle over a move to Anfield that move fell through. But by then Blackburn were very interested in Warnock, and Warnock was craving regular first-team football, so it was only a matter of time before he moved there.

Perhaps if the Champions League “home-grown” quota rules had been in place at the time his career would have gone a different way and he’d have stayed at Anfield, but he is happy at Blackburn.

However, as a Liverpool player from the age of 11, he knows, understands and feels just what the anniversary means.

And the Liverpool supporters know he does.

He walked over to the Kop, and placed the tribute, a “96” made up of red flowers on a background of white flowers, in front of them. The Kop isn’t just the stand; it isn’t just the people in that stand on a particular day. The Kop has been there a long time.

And it knew what it meant that Stephen Warnock had walked over on behalf of his new club to pay tribute. He applauded the Kop, they sang his name, and another special moment had happened in the name of the ninety-six we lost.

Thanks Stephen.

Gerrard on bench against Blackburn

Liverpool need to bounce back from Wednesday’s midweek Champions League defeat against Chelsea with all three points against Blackburn.

To get three points Liverpool need to overcome a Blackburn side managed by former Bolton boss Sam Allardyce. After being sacked very early into his managerial career at Newcastle, and having had more than one run-in with Rafael Benitez in the past, Allardyce will be sure to make that bit more effort to see Liverpool frustrated.

If the Reds are to get three points they’ll almost certainly need to do it without Steven Gerrard. The captain has been suffering from injury this week but it at least on the bench if Rafa feels he needs to call on him.

Agger starts in place of Skrtel who drops to the bench, and Emiliano Insua comes in at left-back. Mascherano returns in midfield after suspension and Yossi Benayoun gets a start.

Ex-Red Stephen Warnock starts for Blackburn.

This is of course Liverpool’s last home game before Wednesday’s 20th anniversary of Hillsborough.

Liverpool: 25 Reina, 17 Arbeloa, 23 Carragher, 5 Agger, 22 Insua, 20 Mascherano, 14 Alonso, 11 Riera, 15 Benayoun, 18 Kuyt, 9 Torres.
Subs: 1 Cavalieri, 2 Dossena, 8 Gerrard, 21 Lucas, 24 Ngog, 31 El Zhar, 37 Skrtel

Blackburn: 1 Robinson, 17 Andrews, 2 Ooijer, 6 Nelsen, 21 Givet, 15 Mokoena, 8 Dunn, 5 Kerimoglu, 3 Warnock, 24 Treacy, 4 Samba.
Subs: 38 Bunn, 10 McCarthy, 11 Grella, 13 Khizanishvili, 19 Villanueva, 29 Olsson, 39 Doran

Referee: Mike Riley

LFC.tv: 7 photos needed for Hillsborough montage

Liverpool’s official website and TV channel are planning to make up a montage featuring the 96 victims of the tragedy at Hillsborough, but need another seven photos in order to complete it.

The full details of LFC.tv’s request for help is posted below – and if you think you can help in any way then please try and find some time. Contact details are in the message below.

If for any reason you can’t get in touch via the details provided below then please post a message to us here – www.anfieldroad.com/contact-us – and we’ll make sure your message gets through to someone at .tv.

Paul Rogers 11 April 2009
LFC TV needs just seven more photos to complete our montage of the 96 victims of the Hillsborough disaster to mark the the 20th anniversary of the darkest day in the club’s history.
On April 15, we aim to feature the faces of all those who died as a result of Hillsborough on both the homepage of the website and the TV channel.

On LFC TV, a photo montage – with one picture following another -will be shown with the name of each individual placed below the photo. The photo montage will be set to an appropriate musical soundtrack.

Thanks to the help of the families and friends, we’ve managed to acquire 89 photos which means we are missing just seven photos.

The photos we are looking for would feature the following seven supporters:

David William Birtle, 22

Raymond Thomas Chapman, 50

Alan Johnston, 29

Joseph Daniel McCarthy, 21

Inger Shah, 38

Peter Reuben Thompson, 30

Martin Kenneth Wild, 29

If you can help us get in touch with any of the families or friends of the seven supporters named above, we would really appreciate it.

If you have a photo of any of the above, you can send it to Hillsborough, LFC TV, Media House, Unit 14, Matchworks II, Speke Road, Liverpool L19 2RF – obviously we will return all pictures sent in – or the photo could be emailed to Hillsborough@liverpoolfc.tv. Whether the picture is emailed in or posted, it is essential that the following information is included:

    The name of the person in the photo
    Your name
    Your Relation to them (Family, Relative or friend)
    Return Address to send photo back (doesn’t apply to email)
    Contact Number

If you can help in any way, it will be much appreciated. If you can’t help, but know someone who can, please pass on this message. If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to get in touch via email Hillsborough@liverpoolfc.tv.

CL Teams: Liverpool v Chelsea

UEFA Champions League, QF 1st leg, Kick-off 7.45pm BST

Yet another Champions League tie for the Reds against Chelsea kicks off with tonight’s first leg at Anfield. This will be the ninth time that the two sides have met in this competition since Rafael Benitez became Liverpool boss. And Chelsea are now on their fourth manager since Rafa arrived.

Rafa has picked what is almost his first-choice side, as much as Rafa has a first-choice side, with Torres and Gerrard part of the front four with Riera and Kuyt.

One choice he would have made differently is as to who lines up alongside Xabi Alonso in midfield. The suspended Mascherano is replaced by Lucas.

Carragher and Skrtel are at the back with Arbeloa and Aurelio as tonight’s full-backs. Yossi Benayoun is on the bench again if needed – as is Andrea Dossena, another of Liverpool’s recent scoring subs.

Liverpool: Reina, Arbeloa, Carragher, Skrtel, Aurelio, Lucas, Alonso, Riera, Kuyt, Gerrard, Torres.
Subs: Cavalieri, Dossena, Hyypia, Agger, Benayoun, Babel, Ngog.

Chelsea: Cech, Ivanovic, Terry, Alex, Ashley Cole, Kalou, Ballack, Essien, Lampard, Malouda, Drogba.
Subs: Hilario, Carvalho, Belletti, Mancienne, Mikel, Deco, Anelka.