On what has been a very emotional day here in Liverpool, our neighbours from across the park received some news today which closes one chapter and opens another. I felt it fitting to write a small piece to show my support personally, and also to demonstrate our support as Evertonians for the victims, the families and the friends of the 96 victims of the Hillsborough disaster.
Every other weekend along with thousands of football fans right across the country I make journeys the length and breadth of England in the car, on the train, on a minibus, all with my mates to watch players I love represent the team I love play the game I love. Up to now, I have come home. The only harm I have come to is being gutted because we haven't played well, or been beaten. All being well, that's the only harm I will ever suffer as an Evertonian.
In the middle of April in 1989, two FA Cup Semi Finals were taking place. Our boys travelled to Villa Park in Birmingham to see us beat Norwich City. At the same time, Liverpudlians travelled across the Pennines to Hillsborough to cheer their team on against Nottingham Forest. No one knew how different their journeys home would be. For some, there would be no journey home.
Everyone knows what happened that afternoon - there is no need for me to go into it. On Merseyside, everyone has known for years what went on at Hillsborough. To have the authorities come out and say what they said went on is nothing short of a disgrace.
Today, the Independent Panel released half a million pages of complete contradiction of "official" accounts of that fateful day. Liverpool fans exonerated of any guilt, any blame, worrying if they did anything wrong. Chapter closed. The truth, the whole truth, now fully exposed for the world to see. Now, another chapter opens. Someone has to be held accountable for this. The South Yorkshire Police for not policing the turnstiles adequately, and subsequently opening the concertina exit gate to relieve the build up of people outside the ground causing a surge of fans forward. Before anyone even thinks to mention the Liverpool fans for rushing through the gate ask yourself this - Everton are playing in a semi final. It is about to kick off. There's a massive crowd of people queuing to get in. Someone opens an exit gate in front of you to let you in. What would you do? I'm telling you now, I was in Standard Liege when their stewards did the same thing. I went through the gate.
How about the Police for altering 164 police statements to deflect any blame laying at their feet towards the Liverpool fans? Isn't that perverting the course of Justice?? The Sheffield "creditable" press agency for creating complete and utter far fetched tripe for Kelvin MacKenzie of the Sun to use this on the front page under the heading "The Truth." By the way, today MacKenzie issued an apology to the families and victims ..... during the two minutes of silence in memory of the 96. Classless.
I'm not going to go on and on. You should be getting my point by now. However, the point of this article is to praise the people of this city, blue and red. The sense of pride I have felt this week as being born and bred a Scouser I cannot put into words. I don't like Liverpool FC. I never have. That's how I've been brought up. I drink with lads who do, play football with lads who do, work with lads who do. We have banter, some of it has venom. But it's banter.
On that day in April, Evertonians came home from a semi final of the best cup competition in the world knowing they were on the march to Wembley again. Some of their mates didn't make it. In troubled times, the city of Liverpool sticks together, looks out for each other. It always has. That's what we do.
Everyone should go to a football match. No one deserves not to return home from one.
Justice for the 96.