I’m writing this on Armistice Day. The day where many of us will have been wearing a poppy. Tomorrow is Remembrance Sunday. A sad day for people all over the world as they look back and remember loved ones who lost their lives fighting for the amount of freedom we still enjoy.
On Armistice Day in 1992, the Bland family were thinking of a loved one that hadn’t yet passed away. To all intents and purposes he’d passed away long before, three and a half years before. The loved one was Tony Bland. He had been one of the victims of the disaster at Hillsborough, the disaster which had claimed 95 lives. Unfortunately Tony didn’t die straight away. His family saw him live the years following the disaster in a coma, in what was eventually described as a “persistent vegetative state”.
His family fought for the right to disconnect a tube that was being used to feed him, to keep him alive artificially. In that November of 1992 the Bland family got a decision, on November 19th, that they could disconnect that feeding tube. The High Court gave the decision, but it was sent to appeal. Finally, after almost four years, the House of Lords allowed the tube to be disconnected, the final decision on the matter. That was in February 1993. Tony passed away on March 3rd 1993, becoming the 96th victim of that awful disaster that had taken place on April 15th 1989.
You can read more about it here: BBC On This Day, including a video of the news item on the BBC on November 19th 2002.
Tony Bland was one of us. He was just 18 when he arrived at Hillsborough expecting to see Liverpool play Nottingham Forest in the FA Cup Final. The 96 people who died as a result of what is widely accepted as incompetence by the South Yorkshire Police were all just Reds like us. They went to have a big day out watching a big game of football. They didn’t deserve to die, they did nothing wrong. But to some, their deaths weren’t enough.
South Yorkshire Police wanted to deflect the blame away from themselves. So they fabricated some despicable lies. Those lies were passed to the press. More than one newspaper decided to go with the lies. Some papers mentioned the lies in passing, perhaps realising that these stories were too far-fetched to mention in anything more than passing. Perhaps realising that the victims of the disaster deserved more dignity than to be subjected to such a level of disgusting lies.
Most Reds know that one paper in particular had great pleasure in taking those lies and making them front-page news. It wasn’t the only one, but even after it became clear that it had printed lies it wouldn’t apologise. Seventeen years later it STILL hasn’t apologised. Seventeen years later and its then editor STILL finds it funny. Seventeen years later a boycott of that newspaper by Reds of the world and people of Liverpool is STILL in place.
The “newspaper” was of course, The Sun, or The S*n as it has since become known. The lies, in their words, were, “Some fans picked pockets of victims; some fans urinated on the brave cops; some fans beat up PC giving kiss of life.” Complete and utter bollocks. Totally false. And all this was under an even larger headline screaming that this bullshit was “THE TRUTH”.
I personally find it hard to look back at April 15th 1989. It still upsets me as much as it did back then. The emotions I feel over the sadness that was April 15th are strong. The emotions I feel over the way that South Yorkshire Police got away with their incompetence are strong too. That emotion is anger, and that’s the same emotion I feel every time I see the S*n logo.
The boycott is against the S*n. People choose themselves whether they spread that boycott to associated products from the same company as the S*n. People choose themselves whether they spread that boycott to other outlets used by the then editor of The S*n – Kelvin Mackenzie. Personally I won’t touch anything that Mackenzie touches. Especially when I read a recent interview with him where he found it amusing to talk about his past lies. Liverpool FC and their fans aren’t Mackenzie’s only victims.
Those who wear their poppies this weekend are remembering people who in many cases died a long time ago. It’s a pledge that began after World War I that we would never forget those who died for our good. The pledge is passed on from father to son and mother to daughter, the hope is that we’ll never forget.
In a similar way, we must try to ensure that we’ll never forget what happened in England on April 15th 1989. We lost 96 of our fellow supporters because the Police didn’t know how to deal with a situation. We lost 96 of our fellow supporters because the FA didn’t know how to allocate tickets in a way that was fair. We lost 96 of our fellow supporters and thanks to the role of the press in the aftermath we probably lost any chance of justice for our 96.
Ninety-six fellow Reds. Someone’s brother or sister, nephew or niece, son or daughter. Real people. Bad enough they lost their lives but for their mates who tried to save them to be accused of such disgusting actions is something that may be unforgivable. For the current editor of The S*n to continue to ignore their disgraceful headlines of 17 years ago may also be unforgivable too.
For the owner of a so-called Liverpool website to knowingly take money from advertising The S*n is definitely unforgivable. He knows why we boycott the S*n. He knows how that publication sickens all decent Liverpool supporters. He hates us so much though that he does not care. And anyone who still visits Koptalk and posts on its forums doesn’t care enough either.
His pathetic attempts at claiming that we are using Hillsborough as part of some plan to get rid of a rival site is just that – pathetic. We aren’t a rival. We just want our club back. We’ve nearly done it, but not quite. Liverpool FC can’t be associated with a site that pretends to be aimed at Liverpool fans yet carries an advert screaming “The S*n – We love it”. We hate it. We despise it. We boycott it. Time any last few remaining Reds did the same with Koptalk.
Boycott The S*n Loving Koptalk.coN. Now.
And never, never forget the ninety-six.