Saturday, April 16, 2011

Hillsborough, and the Liverpool Family.




King Kenny in his interview on the eve of the Hillsborough anniversary yesterday had this to say, “It's been so long there are a generation of our fans who were not born when Hillsborough happened but they are perfectly aware of what happened. I'm sure it will be in the forefront of their minds as well."

I belong to the generation Kenny is talking about. What he probably wants to convey is that Hillsborough connects all Liverpool fans alike irrespective of who you are or your age. Being tucked away here in Calcutta, thousands of miles away from Merseyside, I believe even strongly, Kenny is talking about the people, irrespective of age and distance, and how important Hillsborough will always be for a Liverpool fan.

April has generally been a happy month of the year for me. The final exams of school got over in March, this was the time to let your guard down. The summer vacations were around the corner. Plus my first girlfriend and one of the best persons I have known, had her birthday in April :P , Jokes apart, in all seriousness, for majority of my life, esp in school, I have wanted to be in April and its generally been a happy time.

But 15th April of every year brings a strange combination feeling of immense sadness at the occurrences up at Sheffield on that wonderful spring day in 1989 and its aftermath, as well as happiness and pride of being part of this incredible Liverpool family.

This day epitomizes the reason this football club is so special to the reds all over the world. On this day, I don’t care if we end up being relegated, I don’t care if we don’t win the Premiership for another 22 years, all I care about is the victims’ families who define Liverpool club to get the mere consolation of justice, more than 2 decades on.

Liverpool football club has always been more than just football to me, and this day affirms that belief. We become fans, not just for the enjoyment, for the goals, and highlights or the banter. We become fans to become a part of this wonderful institution, and therefore its no wonder that a club that hasnt won the league for 2 decades and had that one Champions League triumph in 2005, is never short of new generation fans, never ceases to be big. Find me another club like that, who’s failed for so long, yet the fan base has grown , the love for it grown, and the pride of supporting the club amongst old and new fans remaining firmly intact.

It feels so good to see the ex players tweet or talk about the day. Xabi Alonso, Arbeloa, Ryan Babel, Michael Owen, even Cesc Fabregas cutting across club loyalties. It feels wonderful to be able to watch the service free on the LFC.tv channel, and thank you for opening up every year to all the non-members around the world.

So made up for our Rafa Bentiez, for the standing ovation, for the tears he shed. Managers, a lot like players move around all the time and fair play to them. But it is heart-warming to see a man who was removed less than a year ago from the club he loved, back amongst his own people – the fans of the football club. My posts are never without clich├ęs, and here’s the customary one then – You took Rafa out of Liverpool, but try taking Liverpool out of Rafa, Or try taking Rafa out of us.  Thanks, forever grateful. Top man.



I really want to write about King Kenny on this topic, but I very well know I can’t do justice at all to it. One of the oldest memories is reading up on Hillsborough and how Kenny and Marina Dalglish conducted themselves and supported the families impeccably. It was probably too much for him to take as he quit as manager soon after, but he is back now, and what a wonderful person to have in charge of something you treasure most. It’s come a full circle for us on the touchline, it’s time to replicate it in the courtroom.



Hillsborough is not a yearly formality, it teaches you lessons of life. For anyone following the progress and efforts of the families in getting justice, it is an eye opener and wake up call. Fighting the establishment, all for love. Hillsborough and Liverpool FC have taught me to see things in perspective, and go beyond the beautiful game. Hillsborough gets us all together, like Munich does for United, Ibrox does for Rangers and Heysel for Juve. It goes beyond the 90 minutes.

No matter what I have done over the past few years, April 15th has always halted me for sometime. Whether I am happy or sad, in Calcutta, Pune anywhere, it’s a both sad and happy day. More than watching a United-Liverpool game at Anfield, I hope I can make my debut in the stands of the sacred stadium on some April 15th, and witness the memorial service in person. By then, I am also hoping the truth will be ‘officially’ out.

Walk on, walk on. With hope in your heart. And You'll Never Walk Alone.

Cheers,
A very very proud Liverpool F.C. supporter.