Great idea! Its now 10.24am and I have woken up with a lovely hangover
Yet last night I was a mess....went to a friends place and had a lovely dinner, chat and a few drinks. Then headed off to catch a taxi......I knew what was building up inside! I had no intenetion of getting a taxi straight away. So off to the pub where I took two sips of a pint then its was straight outside.....balling my eyes out!
Its 17 years and Im 12,000 miles away now! You would think its would get easier.....but its the opposite! The last few years have gotten harder and harder to deal with this day....the reason is the internet. You see up until about 4 years ago I never 'surfed' the web........after Hillsborough I moved to London.....April 15 meant nothing to anyone.......then I moved to Oz 8 years later....again April 15 meant nothing to anyone. So in effect I had 'blocked' the day from my mind!
Then i got access to the net....all of a sudden I was reading accounts of that day from people who where probably just 10-20 feet away from me in that pen. It was amazing....for about 14 years I had bottled it all up, had nobody to speak who would understand and yet here before my eyes where stories that I could have literally wrote myself!
When I say its getting harder I probably just mean I get more emotional! Im doing now what I should have been doing 15 years ago....letting it all out! It feels better but I still think I have some way to go.....fuck I just wish I was in Liverpool and could speak face to face and give someone a hug who understands! But this will pass and I will get on with my life until the same time next year
I feel so much better for having a good cry last night! Does all this make sense to anyone or do I need some professional help ?
Here is a post of mine from last year.......
THE FLAG !
This was going to be my best season as a Liverpool supporter. I was 18 years old, just got my 3rd season ticket in a row and had just started my first ‘proper’ job. So for the first time ever I had some extra cash to spend on following the Reds. The year…….1988!
September came and all the lads from our estate met up at The Gate (our local in St Helens). There where about 20 of us. Fifteen reds and five bitters! The pre season banter was always good and this year was no exception! In fact we had all just come back from holiday together in Ibiza , so looking tanned and cash in pocket the reds headed off to Anfield for the first home game of the season……..Liverpool 1-0 Manchester United !!! “I told you this was gonna be a good season” I joked with the lads as we left the Kop
That season was great! Barnes, Beardsley and Aldridge setting the league alight and with my new found income I had been to several away games as well! Come April it was time for our next big away game. For the second year running we had drawn Forest in the semi final of the cup. Now after the humiliation of the previous years FA cup final loss to Wimbledon I was really up for us in the FA Cup this year. (As the European ban was still in place!)
So to make the game a bit more special I decided I was going make a flag for the first time. Off to the market, where I bought two big pieces of red and white material. My mum got the sewing out and produced this massive red/white/red tricolor. In the centre was a ‘LIVERPOOL – THE MIGHTY REDS’ flag that I had bought from one of the scallies at a previous game outside the Kop. It was my pride and joy!
So the Saturday morning came and all the boys head down to where the coach was picking us up. Butties and a six pack each for the journey !!. I had a problem though, all my mates had Leppings Lane terrace tickets but I had a ticket for the seats in the Leppings Lane stand. “There’s no way I’m sitting down for a semi…….I have never sat down for any match” I told my mate Alan. Problem solved halfway there when I managed to swap my ticket (plus 6 quid!) for a Leppings Lane terrace ticket……..YES!!!!!! “This is gonna be a great day” I remember thinking. Cashed up, Lynxed up, team on top of the league, heading of to a FA cup semi final, brand new massive flag to make my presence felt and I have just swapped tickets to be by the side of all my mates. “Nothing can go wrong…..3-1 I reckon”
We arrive about 1km from the ground and started our walk to the turnstiles. Got there about 2.30pm and it was a bit chockers outside. The fifteen of us tried to stay together but it was a waste of time. “Lets go inside and we’ll catch up with them in there” I said to my only remaining mate Nick. “We have arranged to meet up behind the goal and I wanna get my flag up on the fence”.
In we go and through the central tunnel that lead underneath the stand. “How come it’s so packed in here Branno and the other two sections are empty” asked Nick. “Dunno mate! There’s a fence at the tunnel entrance so they’ll close that soon and send everyone round the other sides” I told Nick. I had been to the semi the year before at Hillsborough and this had happened.
I tried to make my way to the fence but it was useless. “Oh forget it mate this is too much hassle, we cant get through” I shouted to Nick whilst trying to worm my way back to the tunnel. “If we go back out the tunnel and turn right. There is another entrance by the corner flag. That way we can make our way sort of back to the middle. Hopefully it won’t be as packed”. I distinctly remember the time we finally got out of the pen…..2.49pm!
Off we went and sure enough the pen to the left as you look from behind the goal was pretty empty. We looked out for the other lads behind the goal but couldn’t make any of them out, it was just a sea of heads. Finally 3pm comes around at the atmosphere is fever pitch as the game kicks off. Nick and I are stood on some railings trying to get a better view.
This also gave us a better view of the middle pen. Now, I started to really suspect something wasn’t right when it was noticeable that most of the crowd in the middle where more concerned about ‘getting a bit more space’ than actually following the game. This was very evident when Beardsley hit the cross bar at the Kop end. Normally in unison all the supporters would jump up in the air, heads in hands at such a close effort……not this time! They couldn’t !
“It must be packed Branno, some of them at the front are trying to get out” Nick said to me. Then we noticed fans climbing up into the stand behind. “Let’s get up there” I said to Nick. At the time this was purely to get a better view of the game. What I got was a ‘better’ view of what was happening below on the terraces.
It has been well documented as to what happened in that next hour. One memory that sticks in my mind is the sight of two legs standing up in the air…..in the middle of the pen. It was like the guy was doing a handstand. “God help him” is all I could think. At the time you couldn’t really take in what was happening. Rumors filled the stand of ‘3 have died…..ten have died…..fifteen have died.’ “Yeah right!” I kept in thinking. “It’s a bloody football match, they have probably just passed out or something”.
Then you start to believe what you are hearing and then the panic sets in ‘Where are the lads Nick?.......they said they where gonna meet us behind the goal didn’t they”. The look on Nicks face is something I had never seen before, his eyes where filling up and that of course set me off! After the game had been ‘officially’ cancelled we left the stand. The atmosphere behind the stand was surreal. Anger, disbelief, confusion and frustration. We headed up to the “Currys’ store down the road where we joined the queue for a telephone. It was only when we got inside the store that it finally hit home. They had rows of televisions showing ‘Grandstand’.
Its weird, you can witness 96 people die in front of you and then have a load of fellow supporters tell you people have died and you don’t really believe them. Yet I was bloody there went it happened and yet I still only really believed it when I saw it on television !!!
I finally got to make a call. My mum’s line was constantly engaged so I thought I would ring Alan’s mum so she could pass the word around. As the phone was ringing the thought came into my head “Sht! I don’t even know if Alans is alright. What the feck do I say to his mother”. Thankfully Alan had already called her and told her all the group was OK but they couldn’t find Nick and I !!!!
Back to the coach and we gratefully caught up with lads! Hugs where exchanged and we boarded. Then came the next bit of reality, we waited and waited on the coach. Finally some 2 hours later the coach driver reluctantly headed back for St Helens……minus 8 passengers ! Halfway back Nick tapped me on the shoulder “Do you still want this” he asked. Stuffed inside jacket was the flag I had made. “Nothing can wrong” are the words that I remembered !
Only a handful of us went to the replay at Old Trafford, 3-1 after all! I was stood in the Stretford End and thought about leaving my flag there! But decided better of it “I’ll take it to the Cup Final”
On the day I actually forgot to take my flag but nevertheless we won a very emotional Cup final. I carried on going to games but minus the flag. Until the last game of the season against Arsenal and ‘that’ goal scored by Michael Thomas. In the film Fever Pitch you see some real footage of the Kop that night. In this you can clearly see ‘my flag’ waiving proudly! After the game I threw the flag into my wardrobe in disgust!
The year later we where all on holiday again in Tenerife. We rarely talked about Hillsborough but the holiday was a good opportunity to get a lot off our chests, and we did! At the end of the holiday I declared to my mates “I’m going move to London and try and get a better job, after last year I reckon we are all lucky sods, so why not?”. Alan stood up “but what about your season ticket Branno?” I just turned around and said “Mate, football used to be a matter of life and death! Now I have seen the death the life looks a much better option “
I spent 7 years in London going to the odd game and then had the opportunity to move to Australia which I took. Then last year one of my best friends with whom I shared a house with in London rang and told me he was going to move to Melbourne. He arrived a few weeks later week and we headed off for a beer. “Hey mate! I’ve got a present for you” Lyndon said all excited. I looked down to his bag “It’s either a carton of B&H or a bottle of Jamesons” I thought. “Get a load of this!
Bet you thought you’d never see this again!” he smiled and passed me a carrier bag.
Lyndon had taken over my room when I had left London for Australia some seven years previously. When clearing his room out he noticed this ‘red and white’ thing hiding on the wardrobe floor. “Sorry mate! It’s got a few foot prints on it” he laughed. “I thought I’d bring it with me as a reminder of back home”………the flag had found me again some 15 years and 12,000 miles later!!!!
I then proceeded to tell Lyndon the story of this flag and its history as I have just told you! “Jesus mate I’m so sorry! I bet you never wanted to see that flag again” he muttered in embarrassment. “It’s never brought you any luck”. I put my pint down, smiled and leant across “Oh yes it did mate! I’m still here aren’t I?”
The flag now has pride of place in the spare room of my house, reunited along with the ticket stub of that day. When I have kids they will be told this story too and the flag/ticket will be passed on to them. Another generation of reds who will be able to educate their mates on what happened that day. Let’s hope Justice doesn’t take that long!
The subject of Hillsborough is a powerful topic held close to the hearts of all fellow Reds. It’s a subject that rarely goes away and why should it? In light of recent provocation by certain opposition supporters, its ironic to point who we played our last game against before Hillsborough?........MILLWALL AWAY!
I dedicate this to all our fallen reds, who like me headed of to Sheffield that day with all their hopes and dreams still ahead of them. May they RIP in the knowledge that that they will never be forgotten and the battle for JUSTICE continues.