Following reports earlier that Liverpool have banned the tabloid The Sun from Anfield and their training grounds at Melwood over their biased and false reporting over the Hillsborough disaster in 1989, there has been a call from Everton fans for the Toffees to follow suit.
Everton have stood beside Liverpool from day one as the tragedy at Hillsborough unfolded, through the aftermath of the calamity, the horrific years that followed until justice was finally done last year with the verdict returned that the 96 supporters who died were “unlawfully killed due to grossly negligent failures by police and ambulance services to fulfil their duty of care to the supporters”.
The Sun, more commonly known as ‘The S*n’ across Merseyside, were much maligned for their reporting in which they blamed the stampede on drunken fans.
“On 19 April, four days after the disaster, Kelvin MacKenzie, editor of The Sun, ordered "The Truth" as the front page headline, followed by three sub-headlines: "Some fans picked pockets of victims", "Some fans urinated on the brave cops" and "Some fans beat up PC giving kiss of life". Mackenzie reportedly spent two hours deciding on which headline to run; his original instinct being for "You Scum" before eventually deciding on "The Truth".”
Immediately after the disaster, then-Everton manager Colin Harvey said -
"We are not a divided city. There are Evertonians and Liverpudlians in the same family.”
It is impossible in a city like Liverpool where the two teams have such a storied yet friendly rivalry for one side to grieve without the other caring. In the days after, Labour leader Neil Kinnock visited Anfield where the pitch and goal at the Kop stand was covered with thousands and thousands of flowers, and he commented -
"You only have to look here to see there’s almost as much blue as red."
Peter Lupson in the book Across The Park, noted an amazing gesture known as ‘The Mile of Scarves’ -
The bonds between Everton and Liverpool were much in evidence in the immediate aftermath of Hillsborough, but there was no symbol of their unity more powerful than 'The Mile of Scarves'.
The first scarf was tied to the gates of Goodison Park by Everton star Ian Snodin and from there the chain continued out of Bullens Road, over Walton Road, across Stanley Park and through the Bill Shankly Memorial Gates at Anfield to the Kop. On Saturday 22 April a moving ceremony led by Archbishop Worlock and Bishop Sheppard was held at Anfield for the tying of the final scarf to the Kop. It was attended by thousands, including the players of Everton, Liverpool and Tranmere Rovers.
Here is Royal Blue Mersey writer Darren Melling’s own recollection of the tragic days that followed - ‘Remembering the 96’.
In more recent years, Everton chairman Bill Kenwright was invited to speak at the annual Hillsborough Memorial in 2013, and received multiple rounds of applause as he promised to stand beside the Reds in their search for justice.
In 2014, fans of Everton stood beside Liverpool fans as the city marked the 25th anniversary of the disaster.
More than 20,000 people attended a service at Anfield, including present and former members of both teams.
The families of the victims were also in attendance, with the fresh inquests into their relatives’ deaths adjourned for the week in order for them to attend.
The number ‘96’ was spelt out on the pitch using donated scarves from football clubs across the world. There were also 96 seats left free and draped with scarves donated from the 91 other sides in the Premier League and Football League.
In front of a packed Kop, including fans in Liverpool and Everton shirts, stood a newly commissioned ring-shaped sculpture –- known as the 'Band of Life' - adorned with the names of each of the victims on its inside next to 96 beaming lights.
A few hundred metres away at Goodison Park, fans – again wearing shirts of both clubs - gathered to view the service on big screens.
Ahead of the 224th edition of the Merseyside Derby in February 2015, Everton and Liverpool were united once more to unveil a plaque outside Goodison Park in honour of the 96 who died at Hillsborough. Kenwright and Margaret Aspinall, Chair of the Hillsborough Family Support Group were present at the ceremony outside the Park End stand as well as other Support Group family members.
Even current Reds manager Juergen Klopp, who is in his first full season managing the Anfield side, noted in the lead-up to December’s Derby the Evertonian response to Hillsborough -
“Both clubs showed character how they reacted to Hillsborough, and the way both clubs came together is the best story I've ever heard."
With so much history holding the two clubs together, it only makes sense that the leadership at Everton follow suit the decision made by the Liverpool officials and the Total Eclipse of The S*n campaign to ban the publication.
Everton fans are overwhelmingly for a similar ban from Goodison Park and USM Finch Farm for the paper, and have made their feelings very clear on social media. Responses to a tweet we made ranged from “YES!”, “Without a doubt” to “surprised we haven’t already with the social conscience of the club” and others that used much more colourful language.
Liverpool have banned S*n journalists from Anfield and Melwood over their coverage of the Hillsborough disaster, should Everton follow suit?— Royal Blue Mersey (@RBMersey) February 10, 2017
So as the Blue Union so eloquently put it - “over to you, #EFC”