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Brentford Fans tribute to the 96

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The Tenacious Kennedy:

Here's a touching tribute written by the editor of Brentford Fanzine 'Thorne in the Side' about the club's visit to Anfield in the round prior to Hillsborough, and his subsequent pilgrimages to lay flowers at the memorial.   Thanks very much to Brentford Fan for sending this in....

‘Holding their heads up high’- Justice for the 96...

Thorne in the Side went back up to Anfield over  Christmas to lay a copy of this article, a Brentford pennant and red roses at the memorial on behalf of all readers and Bees fans.  [See photo below]

For those of us around that season, it was one hell of a ride.

Many actually thought it cost us promotion that year but when you survey the best memory whilst watching Brentford, apart from Peterboro’ away in 1992, either the fifth round victory at Blackburn or the game three weeks later at Anfield comes a close second.

Brentford had already done the unimaginable by knocking out Manchester City who at the time were just one point behind Chelsea sitting pretty in third position of the second tier, a month later did the impossible by beating Blackburn Rovers at Ewood Park a team who had gone nine home games unbeaten and were themselves on a formidable run of results and then we were drawn with the cream of the crop, the current champions of England, the FA cup finalists of the previous year, second in the old First Division and the best supported club in the country – Liverpool.

Brentford appeared unbeatable at the time. In fact half the Bees support prayed for the balls of Norwich, Wimbledon, West Ham or Forest to be plucked from the velvet bag to play at Griffin Park in the Quarter Finals, and with that a real chance of progressing to the next round - I made no secret that a trip to Anfield would be my Cup Final and for the first time in my life and in fact the ‘only’ time in my life I was rewarded with the tie that I craved for.

To those of you that are a lot younger than me, this was when football was real football. Anfield was the Holy Grail, 42,000 passionate delirious scousers would virtually suck the ball into the net from behind the all terraced Kop and blow it back into the goal from the two sides that ran along the pitch. This was ‘The’ Liverpool team of Liverpool teams, European stars, International geniuses, Liverpool legends. I can still recount their team today, Grobbellaar, Ablett, Staunton, Nicol, Whelan, Gillespie, Beardsley, Aldridge, Houghton, Barnes and McMahon. Only Ian Rush was missing, and they even had King Kenny managing from the side-lines.

We lost 4-0. We all kid ourselves that ‘if’ Cadette had put that chance away in the ninth minute we could have gone on and won it, realistically it would have meant that we would have lost 4-1, or possibly by even more if the mighty reds had been a tad annoyed that a visitor had not read the script and had the audacity of popping one in in front of the baying Kop.

It rained all day, but 8,000 fans from West London and their swarm of inflatable Bees sung and cheered and laughed and cried, even had their time to mock the best with the ‘Loads of Loads of Money’ taunts normally reserved only for top flight opposition fans and still the Liverpool public applauded not only our efforts on the pitch but stayed behind to clap the support at the other end.

It was probably the proudest day of my life supporting Brentford, and possibly one of the happiest. The saddest in my personal footballing history didn’t come from relegation but happened just four weeks later when the unthinkable happened.

I have a soft spot for Liverpool as a City. My best pal comes from Wavertree, an Evertonian and I spent many weekends going out on the town, watching painful defeats each time at Prenton Park [Goodison?] with him and sharing beers and football conversation with his mates. I have always said that I wouldn’t want to be an outsider in Liverpool but once you are accepted, they treat you with warmth and open arms.

Many a time have I been the centre of curious attention, not just because my car still had four hub caps (well for a day at least) or the fact that I wore clothes that caught up with them six months later but for the only fact that I supported Brentford home and away.

They had ‘once met this scally’ that went to Tranmere on the odd occasion but when you either supported the team in red or the other lot in blue, to find a rare breed that amazingly went everywhere with an unfashionable minnow like Brentford was just plain weird?

And it wasn’t ridicule. They genuinely warmed and respected the fact that I did. Football is religion in their land and just like one of them being a Protestant or a Catholic; here was this strange lad from London who could have worshiped the church of Jediism but even stranger the fact that I didn’t support Arsenal, Tottenham or Chelsea.

Almost thirty years on, my mate’s friends still always know who Brentford are playing and how we’ve got on each week!

Brentford were playing Bristol Rovers on 15th April 1989, four weeks earlier we had been at Anfield.  We won 2-1 that afternoon and I can remember walking from Griffin Park with three points towards our quest for promotion but no-one was talking or shouting about our nearest rivals scores, just mixed and mumbled messages about people dying at Hillsborough.

First it was two people, then reports came back that four had passed away. Further up Brook Road someone shouted ‘F***ing Hell ten people are dead?’ We all thought for a few minutes that this had been the worst breakout of football hooliganism ever, shame that for the next twenty three years The Sun, Police and Politicians were still clinging on and suggesting the same story.

I didn’t know anyone involved at the time, only the eerie fact that most probably many of the 96 had been in the same crowd as me generously applauding my team off the greatest football stage of British club football weeks earlier – not sure I go along with the thought now but it did enter my mind that ‘if’ we had caused the biggest upset in modern day history, it could well have been us that afternoon at Hillsborough.

Wouldn’t have happened to us though, we were well behaved, didn’t drink before matches, certainly had respect for our fellow supporters and wouldn’t have dreamt of stealing from the dead like those murderous Liverpool fans had done… shame on them. We all knew different though – in fact the supporters of all 92 football clubs in England knew different, for once the dark days of trouble at football blew away and fans from all teams united on that day and to a certain extent forever, and supported the 96 and their families to receive the justice that they and every other football supporter deserved.

If it hit me hard, I cannot even imagine what the City of Liverpool was going through on the days that followed. Brentford were playing at Sheffield United the week after, another coincidence – just three miles away from where 96 football fans like you and me eventually lost their lives. My family decided to take a big floral tribute to Anfield in the morning prior to going to Bramwell Lane where there was to be the first of many memorial services at the stadium.
The queues went twice around the ground but on seeing our red and white flowers hanging down from a Brentford FC scarf, families ushered us in and I cannot recall the amount of hands we shook that morning.

That day was the most emotional experience I have ever encountered, if any of you experienced the public out pouring of grief for Princess Diane when she tragically passed away, this was replicated in one city 96 times. The Brass band played ‘You’ll Never Walk Alone’, ‘Abide with Me’, the penalty box at the Kop end was a shrine of flowers, scarves and mementoes. We placed our tribute on the steps halfway up the Kop, got on our way to Sheffield but the game and result itself was insignificant.

Three days after Hillsborough, The Sun newspaper printed on its front page ‘The Truth’ and told of how South Yorkshire police attempted to save people but were beaten away by their own supporters, urinated on and how football fans stole from the dead and for twenty three years since that fateful day, Liverpool fans have been ridiculed, lied to and have had to endure other club’s supporters taunt them some in vitriol and a few in sick humour despite the proud families and the Liverpool public knowing different.

A good friend and colleague of mine at work was there that day. A Liverpool season ticket holder who has supported the club as a boy stood on the Leppings Lane terrace from one of the side pens and watched the whole disaster unfold – a memory that has caused him to have breakdowns and counselling for many years after.

‘I don’t think that if it had been any other City in the country we would be where we are today. People just wouldn’t and didn’t give up on Merseyside – and they won’t rest until justice has been done.’ He said.

Days after that scandalous headline in The Sun, The Hillsborough Justice Campaign set up to bring to the table the actual truth behind the lies of The South Yorkshire Police. Their wish from day one was to have an independent panel re-look at the evidence and discuss what exactly went on with access to every single piece of paper and document – they campaigned and campaigned. The breakthrough came once it was agreed by law that should 100,000 people sign the petition, the government had no choice but to release the papers and to have a motion within the House of Commons.

Now it were facts coming out and not opinion and cover up’s as the hundreds of documents came into the public domain, and finally on 12th September 2012 a press conference was held announcing that the verdict of ‘Accidental Death’ was now to be over turned and a totally independent group would re-open the case.  [Note that the Independent Panel reported on the 12th Sept, which led to the original inquest verdicts being quashed in December]

‘It’s no longer grief now the findings have come out, just anger. You cannot bring back the dead but you can give those that died, their families, Liverpool supporters and football fans in general justice.

I want to see verdicts of unlawful death or manslaughter now… I want to see those people be made accountable not only for their negligence but for covering it up to save themselves. All we ever wanted was justice and the truth – and that those people at the top who hid it all from the public and families face manslaughter charges. The damage has been done, as I say you can’t bring them back but we’ve been labelled ‘murderers’ for twenty three years – let’s get these people made accountable for their actions and lies’’ he continued.

‘’Jack Straw was the first Labour Home Secretary since 1989, a big football fan, someone the Liverpool public put their trust in – he said that he ‘would look into it’ but claimed that after he did ‘he didn’t see any cause to re-open the case’ he needs to come to the table...Thatcher for her part of the cover up.  Chief Inspector Duckenfield the man who opened the gate and then blamed the supporters - he retired through ill health on a massive pension, let’s have him in the dock to face trial for the lies and negligence.

Norman Bettison who was a Chief Inspector at the time who’s conveniently just announced his retirement just before allegations of him admitting to ‘concocting stories about drunk fans’- I want his pension stopped and to stand in court, the FA and I guess Graham Kelly, the man who refused to switch the game to Old Trafford despite the stadium being available but instead insisted on playing at a ground without a safety certificate- let’s have him prosecuted and  then there’s Kelvin MacKenzie the Editor of the Sun. An apology 23 years later is not enough, what goes around comes around – I’d just like to see him be made to stand in the centre circle at Anfield at the next home game.’’ He added.

So for football fans everywhere and especially those that went off one Saturday afternoon to watch a game of football but never came home, justice is a step closer. Brentford supporters will never forget our day at Anfield nor should we ever forget those that perished a few weeks later. Good Luck to our friends in Merseyside in finally getting the respect they deserve.

The Tenacious Kennedy:

--- Quote from: That Kennedy moment on January 30, 2013, 05:36:57 pm ---Brentford could have won that game - you gave it a real go, and I think you went close a few times before we got into gear that day.

Wonder where the semi would have been played if you had got through to play Forest...

--- End quote ---

Geographically, I suppose it might have been Brentford vs Forest at Villa Park and Norwich vs Everton at Hillsborough, though Everton might have got the Kop end

Hillsborough was a disaster waiting to happen.  Without changes,  someone was going to die there sooner or later.  It was only chance that deaths never happened earlier.

Good effort by Brentford Fan.  I also noticed that Brentford were promoting the justice single on their website. 

Good luck in your replay against Chelsea...maybe you can teach them a thing or too

Very nice, much appreciated Brentford Fan.

Good luck for the remainder of the season.


Very touching!

Brentford is a friendly club, situated near Hounslow :)



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