Today will see every traditional 3 pm KO of all football matches put back to 3.07pm as a mark of respect for the 96 Liverpool supporters who went to a football match twenty five years ago and never returned.
As those of us who travelled away following Newcastle United in the 1980s will testify our support came within a whisker of a similar disaster on several occasions. My mind is taken back to a game at Hillsborough in the 83/84 season when I am sure that but for a successful invasion of a vacant paddock adjacent to the away end, some of us in the central section of the Leppings Lane end behind the goal would have suffered at least serious injury. That episode became a comical one as a routed South Yorkshire Police saw their helmets being passed around the away end as they looked on with their piss boiling after having been put into retreat by Mags reluctant to spend a whole football match barely able to breathe with empty terracing available to them.
A possibly worse episode came at White Hart Lane in a an FA Cup game with Tottenham when around 17,000 Mags invaded North London with Spurs and The Met woefully ill-prepared for a swarm of Geordies up the Seven Sisters Road. Talk to anyone who was at that game and they will confirm just how close we came to tragedy.
English football stadiums not to put too fine a point on it were death traps. That had been demonstrated at Valley Parade but in that instance it had proven impossible for the establishment to blame the victims as they did at Hillsborough.
Only now, twenty-five years later after the lies, smears, obfuscation and closing of ranks of the gutter press (DON’T BUY THE SUN), the Police and the Government are the families of the bereaved anywhere near to obtaining justice for the loss of their loved ones.
There is so much cynicism and defeatism in modern society as well as amongst football supporters especially but those behind the Hillsborough Justice Campaign and the Hillsborough Families Support Group should fill us all with pride at their continuing fight for justice. These are ordinary people who have done an extra-ordinary thing and I am filled with admiration for them.
These ordinary people have endured the indifference of the establishment, the insults of the pig-ignorant and the agonies of their own loss to continue their fight for justice and hopefully, now, they are close to achieving that noble goal.
Some of you will be at Stoke today, some of you maybe taking in a non-league game and some will be listening to commentary, down the pub watching a moody beam-back or watching the scores flick up on a TV screen. And some of you will be on the B&Q beat.
I hope all of us take those seven minutes just to reflect upon the great loss and injustice of the Hillsborough disaster but also be filled with admiration and optimism for and by those who have refused to go away and forget one of the great injustices the British Establishment has ever visited upon its own people.