How Liverpool copes with tragedy…

The anniversary of the Hillsborough disaster is always a pensive, reflective time in Liverpool.

The Hillsborough disaster was a fatal human crush during the semi-final football match between Liverpool and Nottingham Forest at the Hillsborough stadium in Sheffield on the 15th of April, 1989.

With 96 fatalities and 766 injuries, it remains the worst disaster in British sporting history.
It was caused by police negligence and failures by the ambulance service. However it took 28 years before a single person was charged due to numerous inquests that have since been shown to be disgraceful travesties of justice.

The establishment and the media colluded to accuse and blame the victims. Survivors and their families campaigned tirelessly to see the truth recorded properly.

Here in Liverpool The Sun newspaper is no longer bought or sold. Its mendacious reporting almost certainly enabled the initial inquests to clear those responsible of any blame. Outside of Liverpool it tilted the public mood until victims were perceived as hooligans.

The only shining light is the tireless campaigning by the families of both survivors and victims. That said justice has never really been done. There’s a feeling of constantly grinding against the system. It has been exhausting for the campaigners. Many have also been casualties.

This afternoon we remembered with two minutes of silence at 3.06. Flags were hung at halfmast. The bells of the Town Hall rang 96 times. As every year, the streets were eerily silent. Everybody – red and blue – comes together to mark this collective scar.

Lessons have been learnt, changes have been made, safety in stadiums has been increased. It can seem hollow, though – PM Boris Johnson described the city as ‘wallowing in victim status’.

People like him made closure impossible. The city is as angry as it is sad. If anything tragedy made Scousers understand the power of togetherness. The silence is a powerful, annual reminder that we’re a family.

You’ll never really walk alone here – and I’m a little bit more hopeful about a golden light every year.

I’ve included links to both of the best known versions of You’ll Never Walk Alone here – the first is to Gerry and the Pacemakers’ famous arrangement. It’s the one that always gets played and is traditionally associated with LFC.

The second is to the finale of Carousel (from 1956) – sung by Barbara Ruick and Shirley Jones. I love this arrangement because it’s so raw and the two women duet to carry the message of the musical. It seems appropriate that an arrangement sung by women is heard when so many of the campaigners for justice were the wives and mothers of victims.

One last note off topic – however you’re coping with the lockdown, remember you’re stronger than you think. Most of all, though, we’re stronger together. Keep in touch.

If you want more of a conversation, come and join the Sophie’s Voice community on Facebook for more cheery content during this difficult period. Or visit Instagram if you want to see my commitment to ‘keeping it real’ – by using my children as Insta-editors. It may be a massive mistake but it’s funny.

We’ll fight this together. With the help of a very young suburban Valkyrie, apparently.

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