Twenty years ago next week a disaster hit Liverpool Football Club that was so serious that even the club’s crest was permanently changed in memory of what happened. A permanent, eternal, flame burns at one end of the Anfield stadium, outside, as part of a memorial that lists the victims of the disaster. One ‘newspaper’ printed lies about what happened, and to this day suffers a strong and sustained boycott from Liverpool fans – and others – who remain disgusted at its coverage.
The disaster was the Hillsborough Disaster. Ninety-six Liverpool fans died. All they did was stand at one end of a football stadium in Sheffield to see their club take part in an FA Cup semi-final.
For younger fans, or fans who’ve started to follow the club as a result of the ‘globalisation’ of the game, it might seem that there’s a hell of a lot to take in. And it might also seem that, surely, if any individual or authority did anything wrong they’ll have been dealt with by now.
Twenty years on and the fight for justice goes on. That’s why the Kop sang “Justice for the 96” for six minutes at the start of an FA Cup game a couple of years back. Six minutes of holding up a mosaic asking for “The Truth”. For all the reputation the Kop has for being the home of the best and most passionate fans in the world, it still takes some serious cause for such a gathering of people to sing for SIX minutes irrespective of what was going on during that match.
The six minutes wasn’t a random number, or an overrun of a planned five minutes. It was for a very significant reason.
Six minutes is significant. So is 15 minutes. Because the 15 minutes was wrong.
Chances are you know this already. To be reading this site you aren’t likely to be new to this.
But sometimes, especially if you’ve not been there from the start, it’s not always easy to pick up all the details of a story. And sometimes it can be embarrassing having to ask for help filling the gaps (although please, don’t be embarrassed, most older Liverpool supporters will gladly fill the gaps in your knowledge in for you).
Maybe you’re not a Liverpool fan but heard the new single aimed at raising awareness of the Hillsborough disaster and wanted to find out more. Maybe you’ve got a mate asking you about what happened and need some help to make sure you don’t get mixed up.
Well for 18 months two Liverpool supporters have worked extremely hard to get a pamphlet together aimed at educating anyone who, for any reason, isn’t 100% sure about what happened.
Nicola McMillan and Jim Sharman have produced an outstanding piece of work which I’d like all supporters to find time to look at. Go to www.hfdinfo.com to see the pamphlet in a PDF format.
This is aimed at anyone who wants to know what happened in the lead-up to the tragedy, during the tragedy itself and in the aftermath.
The online version looks brilliant, but believe it or not the online version isn’t available to everyone. And sometimes a hard copy of a leaflet left in an appropriate place, or just physically handed to someone, has a much greater impact than on-screen. People are too quick to click “next” or to even skip clicking a link in the first place.
To help get the message out, to help others see what is significant about six minutes or 15 minutes, to educate people who believe the second hand version they were given by a S*n reader, there is now an effort being made to turn this information into a fully-fledged registered document, with an ISBN number and 3000 printed copies. But that costs money unfortunately, money that Liverpool supporters could surely raise.
Getting 3000 copies out to MPs, journalists, players, fans groups, club chairmen and others would surely be of great benefit. The organisers also want to see copies in as many UK libraries as possible because it will then become a lasting reference for others who carry out research into what happened for years to come.
A local company called CDP Print Management were kind enough to offer printing at a subsidised rate. Work has already begun on getting hard copies out to people, but there is no reason not to make a donation if you can afford it. That way they can print more copies if there is a demand to do so – but they intend to donate any funds remaining at the end of the exercise to the three Hillsborough campaign groups.
You can contribute using PayPal. You need to log into Pay Pal – www.paypal.co.uk – and then use the “Send Money to a Friend” option.
From there you’ll be asked for an email address for the Pay Pal account you wish to send money to. The address is CONTRIBUTEHFDINFO@GMAIL.COM.
If you can afford to donate, please do so. But if you can afford some time, please try to read the documents, and then try to ensure others do too.