At 3:07pm this Saturday we will all get a painful but timely reminder that whatever the predicament the Cobblers find themselves in by the end of a football match in the grand scheme of things won’t actually be all that important. Almost 25 years ago, 96 football supporters left their homes to go and support their teams but never came back.
The Football League is joining the Premier League, FA Cup and all other levels of football this weekend by moving their kick off times to seven minutes past their scheduled start time to pay respect to the families and individuals affected by the Hillsborough disaster in 1989.
I wasn’t even aware of the tragedy when it happened and had actually only just started to show any sort of interest in football at the tender age of four and a half but whenever I read an article or watch a documentary about it I can’t help but be deeply saddened.
I’ve been going to matches with my Dad since the early 90’s and never once did I ever imagine that I wouldn’t come home with him too. That was the reality of Hillsborough – families were torn apart, husbands and wives lost their life partners and the game that they loved was suddenly put deeply into perspective.
I’m not in any way qualified to lead an all out attack on the simply appalling cover ups and lies published by a certain newspaper that I cannot even name out of disgust for their coverage at the time – I leave that to the excellent JFT96 campaign who are doing a sterling job of never giving up the fight of achieving some sort of justice for the innocent souls who lost their lives. But what I do feel comfortable in saying is that maybe in the seven minutes between our usual kick off time and the scheduled one on Saturday we can remember how much of a privilege we have to watch our football clubs each and every week.
The Cobblers are of course in danger of losing league status and the Burton game is the first of five cup finals in the coming weeks. But the majority of us will be fit and healthy enough to come back in August no matter what division we’re in. That’s the beauty of football – when all is said and done, we go back because we love our clubs no matter what. On April 15th 1989, 96 loyal supporters couldn’t go back again and I hope this weekend’s set of memorials across the country can not only serves as a reminder to all fans that there’s always another week or another season but also serves as another tribute to our fallen brothers of the game and to those who will not give up the fight for their justice.