For Liverpool FC fans, today is significant for reasons that have nothing to do with Manchester City FC and a potential league-deciding bout.
The Liverpool club paid tribute to the lives lost 25 years ago this weekend in the tragic Hillsborough disaster.
On April 15th, 1989, fans had been eagerly waiting to get into the Hillsborough stadium to watch the FA Cup semi-final between Liverpool and Nottingham Forest. When the gates opened, hundreds of fans flooded into the arena. There was simply not enough room for all of those enthusiastic bodies and hundreds were crushed in the ensuing frenzy.
As fans poured onto the field to avoid being trampled, it was clear something had gone terribly wrong. At 3:06 pm, the referee announced that the game would be abandoned.
When it was all settled, authorities learned that 96 Liverpool fans had been killed and 766 persons had been injured. The number “96” has since held a somber and significant meaning for the Reds.
Tribute was paid to the loss in the form of 7 minute match delays across the Premier League this weekend. At the FA Cup semi-finals, 96 empty seats were draped with Liverpool scarves. At Anfield 96 empty seats were decorated with a single red rose.
— FIFA.com (@FIFAcom) April 12, 2014
— 102 Great Goals (@102greatgoals) April 13, 2014
A minute’s silence ahead of the LFC v City clash honored those who never returned home from an away trip to support their team.
This weekend brings with it a mixture of emotions. While it’s possible that this game could signal the possibility of a league title for the Reds, it’s also a time to remember that there are more important things than football games and trophies.
The Hillsborough disaster forever changed the face of modern football, ensuring that English stadiums would be redesigned to seat fans in a manner that is as safe as possible. There are no standing spaces allowed in the upper levels of English football at present.
Some feel that the adjustments that eliminated all standing were the result of a gross overreaction. In recent years, there has been a push for “safe standing” in Premier League football.
Regardless of how Barclay’s Premier League fans feel about the issue of standing during games, it must be said that the world of British football is safer to enjoy largely because of the horrific events that occurred all those years ago.
Image via Wikimedia Commons