(Written by Mark Apostolou)
‘Why don’t Liverpool fans just get over it?’
‘What about those killed at Heysel?’
‘The Liverpool fans were to blame for Hillsborough, just a bunch of drunks’
This is a snapshot of some of the sort of bile that has been emanating across comment boxes of the various news media after yesterday’s news that 96 people were unlawfully killed.
We should be shocked by comments such as these, enraged by the sentiment that they convey. However most of us are all too aware of just how deep-seated the ignorance, of some, has set in.
As someone who remembers vividly the aftermath of the 1989 tragedy, returning from a lower league match and hearing the news of the disaster passed from fan to fan, it’s hard to comprehend just how unfeeling some people can be in relation to such a horrific incident.
In some ways the off-handed comments, such as the ones above, are more troubling that those idiotic souls who chant outright insulting cries in the direction of Liverpool fans at various stadiums across the country.
Those displays are of course shocking but for some reason those who make throwaway comments such as those asking Liverpool fans to ‘get over it’ or ‘move on’ are harder to fathom.
Somewhere along the line a significant number of people have forgotten that 96 people died when they went to watch a football match.
Think about that for a moment.
Factor in that all but three of those who perished were under the age of 50 and this number then hits home that much harder.
The next time someone you know makes a comment such as those above, and let’s be honest we all ‘know’ someone who has made erroneous statements about the tragedy, challenge them.
Ask them to explain their way of thinking and make them see just how misguided they are and how hurtful such comments would be to anyone affected by the events, directly or indirectly, of that April day back in 1989.
There are even some who belittle the efforts of the families of those lost at Hillsborough and their ultimate victory on Tuesday after a lengthy inquest.
One can only imagine the additional pain and suffering felt by those who lost loved ones in 1989, who then spent the best part of three decades trying to get to the truth.
These are people who were lied to at every level. Families who had at first suffered the indignity of newspaper portrayals of their sons, daughters, brothers, sisters, husbands and wives, publications who had decided that their deaths were of their own doing.
They were subject to a police cover-up of the highest order backed up by the government of the day, and subsequent governments, which meant that the pursuit for justice was one that lasted a generation.
For some reason the fact that this tragedy occurred at a football match has lessened its value for many, and that’s another factor that’s hard to get your head around.
For instance, if the death of 96 people were related to a train crash can you imagine for one second that anyone would state ‘why don’t they just get over it’ in the direction of grieving family members?
One can only sincerely hope that yesterday’s judgement will help the families of those who died and were injured to feel some sense of justice. Those directly affected by events at Hillsborough will never fully recover from the events that unfolded that day but the fact that a seemingly endless pursuit for justice has reached some element of finality should be applauded.
These families refused to give up and they got to a truth that was so deeply and deliberately hidden.
Again, outside of the context of this catastrophe, these are people who would be universally upheld as beacons of triumph over adversity but for some reason are considered otherwise by many.
I vividly recall to this day the shock and anguish among the fans of the club I follow as they relayed messages to each other about what had transpired in Sheffield. No one there felt anything other than a sense of deep sorrow and dismay.
No one leaving that stadium, traveling home from that game uttered any derogatory statements, there in the immediate heat of the moment there was nothing but real concern for those who had suffered at Hillsborough and genuine heartfelt sadness for those who had died that day.
We were fans who made it back to loving homes that day.
One should never forget that fact.