HILLSBOROUGH: THE FINAL MEMORIAL SERVICE AT ANFIELD

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Twenty seven years ago, 96 football fans went to an FA Cup semi-final and never came home. Today’s anniversary of the Hillsborough disaster will be marked by the final memorial service to be held at Anfield. Coming, as it does, in the year that will mark the conclusion of the Hillsborough inquests, the decision is a big one. By Alan O’Hare.

Those of us who were not at Hillsborough, but remember the events of April 15th 1989, all have our stories of where we were. They’re tales that don’t matter, though. Not really.

What memories matter today, are the ones of those who lost their lives at Hillsborough on that fateful Saturday afternoon. What matters today, are the thoughts and feelings of those who were left behind by their loved ones. And what else matters today, are the heavy hearts of those football fans who were there, but survived with their lives. Just.

Some of them still go the game. Some of them haven’t set foot inside a football ground since. However, they all carry the events of that day with them. And they always will. Today will see the final Hillsborough memorial service to be held at Anfield – and it’s a decision that has been greeted with mixed emotions. We asked a Liverpool FC fan who was at Hillsborough for their thoughts on the final service. Thank you, John…

“For weeks before the date of April 15th, I was always a right misery. Once I had been to Anfield, though, I could always feel the dark clouds move. Nothing really to do with the actual service, it was just that I would feel better in and around the Anfield area… and I originally found the memorial service a great way to deviate the stresses that the time of year would bring.

Over the last few years, I’ve just become increasingly angry around this time: angry at the day-trippers who come just to sit as close to the players as possible, angry at the pontificating of certain speakers and… just, angry. I’ve been so angry in the past, that for years I would exit the ground after the names had been read out. I even booed Andy Burnham one year and cheered him the next…

I’m glad this year will be the last memorial service to be held at Anfield. Too much in-fighting has seen to that. Today, I’m going for the first time with my mate who I was with on 15/4/89. Next year, I will do something different. Many thoughts go out to the 96, the families and the survivors who are still struggling to this day.”

 – John Joynt

#JFT96

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