For readers of this blog who are not football fans I would like to remember today, April 15th 2014, as the twenty-fifth anniversary of the Hillsborough Stadium disaster. On April 15, 1989 ninety-six Liverpool fans died in a tragic human crush at the Hillsborough Stadium in Sheffield during an FA Cup semi-final—more than 400 more were hospitalized with injuries. The causes of the disaster were many, from an antiquated stadium to poor decision-making and communication by Police.
On that sad day in April “The 96” were immortalized in English history and changed English football—and society—forever. After the disaster standing room sections were banished and stadiums in the top tier (the Premier League only started in 1992—in many ways a response to this tragic event) became all-seaters. What also happened—and perhaps more important for English society—was a re-appraisal of football (and fans).
After the Heysel distaster of 1985 English clubs—and Liverpool in particular—were pegged as troublemakers throughout the continent due to the pervasive “hooligan” element in British football. Prime Minister at the time, Margaret Thatcher, made no attempt to dissuade such labels. Indeed, British authorities tried to peg “the 96” as drunkards and troublemakers who had caused the crowd crush by entering the stands without tickets. It was a false accusation; one that the police manufactured so as to shadow their own failures in the disaster. Many subsequent documentaries (Including a well done feature by US sports network ESPN) have focused on the doctored reports of police who were at the stadium the day of the match. Many were edited to cover up criticisms of the police response by their own. It was a shame to disgrace the names of those who died at a football match in the name of politics.
For years Liverpool fans have wanted justice for “the 96” and it has been echoed by football fans across Europe; the scarves sent to Anfield Road for the weekend match against Manchester City are testament to the fact that the Hillsborough disaster was not just a tragedy for Liverpool fans—it was a tragedy for football fans everywhere. The quest to clear the names of “the 96” has forced a new look at the British justice system and the government’s role in the tragedy.
For more in depth writing on the tragedy please see:
So here is a picture of my Liverpool shirt, posted today in honor of “the 96”. I always wanted a Liverpool shirt for my collection because I think their “motto”, if we can call it that, of “You’ll Never Walk Alone” is truly in the spirit of football fandom, whatever team you support. If you’re not convinced, these two YouTube clips of the fans during last weekend’s remembrance of Hillsborough are a good introduction to Liverpool’s spirit (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x3UPeulnY6c and http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZpP5SWH62Bg). I was lucky enough to find this rare long-sleeved shirt online last year, complete with classic Carlsberg sponsor.
The shirt is Liverpool’s centenary shirt with a special embroidery around the crest (According to this site, the embroidered crest and Adidas motif mean this is a player quality shirt)–there are also two embroidered FA Premier League patches on the arms, the first season of the now world-famous league. The fabric is normal for the era, shinier than that of current shirts. In my opinion, this shirt also has the added bonus of being a classic Adidas design from the early nineties, with the three stripes coming across the left shoulder. They just don’t make shirts like they used to.
Remember The 96.
Scarves From Around Europe In Honor of The 96, courtesy of Ultra Style’s Facebook:
A Couple Pictures of My Liverpool Shirt: