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.

9 thoughts on “Thanks Stephen”

  1. Agreed, at great moment , one that will be remembered by everyone for a very long time.

  2. Just to say that as a Blackburn fan the tribute would have come from all ex-Liverpool players at our club- but as Diouff was ill, then it was down to Stephen Warnock to lay the wreath. Had Mr Friedel still been with us, then he would have had some part to play in this too. Great gesture though-and I believe that our fans left a similar tribute at the Hillsborough memorial before kick off. Good luck for Tuesday

  3. Thank you Stephen for a very nice gesture of respect and remembrance.
    I don’t know how other fans feel but, I do wish that Rafa would stop his war of words with Ferguson. it is unseemly, it is a waste of time and energy. the real game goes on on the field with the players and not the Managers acting like silly children.
    In plain truth Rafa, you are making a fool of yourself, so please stop, show some dignity. Ferguson won’t stop but just leave it alone and let the players do your talking.

  4. To Dave, the Blackburn fan. Thanks for the tribute and especially the impeccable minute’s silence from your lads and lasses.

    I know 99% of fans are respectful with only a tiny minority unable to keep quiet but on TV at least it sounded to me like everyone in the ground was respectful.

    When it really matters everyone can be well behaved.

  5. I was a puddle when watching it – it was a wonderful gesture from Blackburn and from Stephen Warnock. You could tell from the expression on his face and his body language that it meant something to him, too.

    To echo Ray’s thanks to Blackburn fan Dave, it was extremely decent of your fans to respect the minute’s silence on Saturday. It goes to show that despite rivalries between clubs, humanity and honour are still foremost.

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