The first thing that always causes the pit of my stomach to hollow out when I read down the list of names of those that died at Hillsborough, twenty-one years ago today, is the ages. About two-thirds of the names are kids in their teens, although the youngest – Jon-Paul Gilhooley at just 10 – is of a similar age to mine in 1989.
Then there are the other young people in their twenties and thirties, some attending with friends this time, others who went with family members. The more middle-aged in their forties and fifties, maybe parents taking their kids to the game, all the way up to the Granddads: John Alfred Anderson at 62 and Gerard Bernard Patrick Baron, aged 67. An Anfield crowd today will be a similar mix of ages, from the youngsters seeing it for the first time to the oldies who’ve seen it all before and can tell you of the days before Shankly. A crowd at most other football grounds will be the same.
Now I know it is no more tragic for someone to die at the age of 10 than it is to go at 67. Both are mourned equally by those they leave behind. But I would like you to ponder what would have happened if, say, over 30 young music fans had died at a concert because of errors in policing and there had been no inquiry, not much of an apology and a headline in the national tabloid press that blamed the teeny-boppers for the deaths.
A year since I wrote this and, although it is heartening to read news of an independent panel to review the confidential files relevant to the disaster and to see that South Yorkshire police have agreed to co-operate, the campaign goes on.
Today of all days, but on any day: don’t buy the Sun.
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