This morning; the news headline waiting 27 years finally broke on Warrington: Justice. To anyone; no matter what sport you follow, the words 96 and Justice went hand in hand every year every season. Across Europe the European Elites such as Borussia Dortmund and Celtic regularly displayed, “Justice for the 96” banners. At home in Anfield; a ground traditionally home to Liverpool Football Club, against the thick Merseyside rains the banners never dampened.
In the face of it, the authoritative Thatcher looming over Britain in one of the worst economic recessions to face Britain, football was all what people had. With the news dominated by the mining strikes, the Falklands war and the overarching Northern Ireland saga, the 80’s seemed to be a massive slump in the long history of Britain. But, on a Saturday afternoon at 3:00, people gathered at Anfield, Old Trafford, Maine Road, and Villa Park, to watch their teams play and forget the world. It was the working man’s escape. Here you weren’t one struggling against the odds by 40,000 voices together.
And then one day 96 football fans went to a game and never returned. An innocence was lost, never to be found again.
Yet, it’s not a number, they are people. Jon Paul Gillhooley aged 10 years old, Gerard Baron who played in the 1950 FA Cup Final Steven Brown was waiting to become a father for the first time. On father; Trevor Hicks had to choose to wait with his dying daughter on the pitch or go with his other daughter in the ambulance.
Today, after the supposed, “Truth” by the Sun newspaper and years of campaigning, chanting “Justice for the 96”, the golden sky has been lit. After the 200 day trial, it has been concluded that the 96 were unlawfully killed.
After 27 years; Justice.
While these events on our TV screens played out like a television movie; each year more passing information and today the big dramatic ending, it is easy to distance ourselves from it. To think of it as another time another place. Away though from the storm and golden skies on Merseyside, that could have been anyone. Cork City FC fans (of which I also support across the Country) Cork GAA fans, Munster fans.
Today was not a victory just for Liverpool Football Club and the families of the 96, but for sport itself.
Justice for the 96.
You Will Never Walk Alone.