I have been a football supporter for as long as I can remember – and an Evertonian even longer than that.
As a kid, my Dad always told me that whoever was top of the table at Easter would win the league. If that still holds today, then in a few weeks time Liverpool will be crowned Champions.
This week on Merseyside football fans have gone through every single emotion that the beautiful game can throw at you. At Anfield on Sunday, Liverpool finally overcame Man City 3-2, and then in mid week watched their Manchester rivals totally blow the title with a disappointing performance against relegation bound Sunderland resulting in a 2-2 draw.
After the euphoria of an incredible performance and win over Arsenal less than a fortnight ago, Everton seriously dented their prospects of joining their neighbours in the Champions League next season, falling to a 3-2 defeat at the hands of lowly Crystal Palace.
Amidst all this was the twenty fifth anniversary of a football related tragedy that remains an indelible stain on the English game – Hillsborough.
Far more qualified writers than me have put into words just how much of a catastrophe that totally unnecessary and wholly avoidable horror was. Those that lost loved ones have finally secured a modicum of justice and content through their sterling, relentless campaigning work.
Weather you support Leeds, Blackburn, Burnley or Carlisle, you will admire the work of those families. If you were going to big football matches during the seventies and eighties you will have thought at some point ‘that could have been me’.
It took twenty five years for the 96 who were killed at Hillsborough to get some kind of justice. It took about twenty five weeks before the powers that be recognised that if it was to survive as a sport and as a business football could not go on treating fans like cattle, sub human, cretins.
Today we have 21st century state of the art stadiums, sensible policing and clubs that by and large recognise the need to ‘entertain’ before and after the match even if what you are watching during the ninety minutes of play is not particularly riveting.
All the regeneration, television money and razzamatazz have made football a safer sport to watch in terms of your physical well being. Emotionally, it can still kick you in the guts when you’re least expecting it. And that’s why it’s still the greatest game on the planet.
Justice for the 96. And don’t buy the Sun!