On the 24th anniversary of the Hillsborough tragedy, the city of Liverpool remembered the 96 who died during a service at Anfield, the first since the Hillsborough Independent Panel cleared supporters of blame. In our latest guest post, Christer Eikrem of Live4Liverpool.com offers the reflections of an overseas fan which are sure to strike a chord with Reds followers from this side of the Irish Sea.
This week I wanted to write about Hillsborough. I have never done that before; neither in article form nor on any of the discussion forums around dedicated to Liverpool FC. Not because it’s too close to me and too painful to deal with – I will not pretend that is the case – but because I have never felt it was mine to write about.
I have followed this club of ours from across the North Sea for well over two decades now, and when it comes to discussing the footballing side of the club I know I can write and talk about pretty much anything. But I have stayed clear of Hillsborough.
For me it’s about knowing my place in the tribe. I’m not saying everyone, not directly or indirectly involved, doesn’t have a right to feel and express their empathy or sympathy – by no means am I saying that. That is not for me to judge – in any way, shape or form. I have simply always felt it belongs to the city of Liverpool and the people of Merseyside, and that those of us standing outside should tread very gently. But now the time feels right; hopefully I can manage to put down some meaningful words without them sounding hollow.
There are different ways of losing someone close to you. Many of us have experienced it one way or another. ‘Luckily’ it’s often through natural causes, which makes it easier to accept as part of life. However, losing someone who went to a game of football can probably never be accepted.
What I remember from that day in 1989 is not much. But it has stuck with me. I remember walking through the front door and into the living room, where my dad was watching the television. I don’t know where I had been and done, but if I were to guess I would say playing football in the streets or down at the neighbourhood pitch. I said something to him, but he did not respond. He just stared at the television with clenched jaws and a sort of frowny look on his face; the kind of look he used to have when trying to hide his emotions. But I could see the sadness in his eyes. It was not anger. Children sense these things. I knew he did not want to talk, so I sat down beside him and watched.
I see a football pitch full of people in Liverpool shirts; some of them are lying on the ground. The stands look packed. Too many people gathered in one place, surely. What is happening? Where are Peter Beardsley and John Barnes? One face in particular has stayed with me since that day, and remains the first image I see to this day when I think of Hillsborough. I don’t know his name and I don’t know if he was one of the 96, but he is one of the reasons why LFC became a big part of my life.
That is it. That is all I can remember.
For me, April 15 is about Liverpool fans all over the world forming a circle around those who lost someone or something 24 years ago – be it someone they knew and loved, or maybe a bit of themselves – and make sure their pain and grief is protected and respected. We may not know one another by face or name; but as the day and hour comes and goes, know that we will be there with you in spirit when the clock strikes 3:06pm.
We bow our heads in respect, light our candles from afar and set aside a minute for our brothers and sisters. That is the least we can do. We might not be there to offer you the shoulder you deserve and perhaps need, but we can try to help you by never allowing ourselves to forget.
Republished with kind permission from Live4Liverpool
Everton Chairman Bill Kenwright’s speech at the Anfield service