A Momentous Day

For football; for Liverpool; for the families of the 96 fans who died in the Hillsborough disaster April 15th 1989. FINALLY………JUSTICE.

John Anderson 62-Colin Ashcroft 19-James Aspinall 18-Kester Ball 16-Gerard Baron 67-Simon Bell 17-Barry Bennett 26-David Benson 22-David Birtle 22-Tony Bland 22- Paul Brady 21-Andrew Brookes 26-Carl Brown 18-David Brown 25-Henry Burke 47-Peter Biurkett 24-Paul Carlile 19-Raymond Chapman 50-Gary Church 19-Joseph Clark 29-Paul Clark 18-Gary Collins 22-Stephen Copoc 20-Tracey Cox 23-James Delaney 19-Christopher Devonside 18-Christopher Edwards 29-Vincent Fitzsimmons 34-Thomas Fox 21-JonPaul Gilhooley 10-Barry Glover 27-Ian Glover 20-Derrick Godwin 24-Roy Hamilton 33-Philip Hammond 14-Eric Hankin 33-Gary Harrison 27-Peter Harrison 15-Stephen Harrison 31-David Hawley 39-James Hennessey 29-Paul Hewitson 26-Carl Hewitt 17-Nicholas Hewitt 16-Sarah Hicks 19-Victoria Hicks 15-Gordon Horn 20-Arthur Horrocks 41-Thomas Howard 39-Thomas A Howard 14-Eric Hughes 42-Alan Johnston 29-Christine Jones 27-Gary Jones 18-Richard Jones 25-Nicholas Joynes 27-Anthony Kelly 29-Michael Kelly 38-Carl Lewis 18-David Mather 19-Brian Matthews 38-Francis McAllister 27-John McBrien 18-Marian McCabe 21-Joseph McCarthy 21-Peter McDonnell 21-Alan McGlone 28-Keith McGrath 17-Paul Murray 14-Lee Nicol 14-Stephen O’Neill 17-Jonathon Owens 18-William Pemberton 23-Carl Rimmer 21-David Rimmer 38-Graham Roberts 24-Stephen Robinson 17-Henry Rogers 17-Colin Sefton 23-Inger Shah 38-Paula Smith 26-Adam Spearritt 14-Philip Steele 15-David Thomas 23-Patrick Thompson 35-Peter Thompson 30-Stuart Thompson 17-Peter Tootle 21-Christopher Traynor 26-Martin Traynor 16-Kevin Tyrrell 15-Colin Wafer 19-Ian Whelan 19-Martin Wild 29-Kevin Williams 15-Graham Wright 17.



Rodney Marsh Cleans Stoke City Boots

photo credit : Vitanee Oliver
photo credit : Vitanee Oliver

My daughter, a Photojournalism student at Staffs Uni, had the opportunity to photograph a footballing legend earlier this week. These are her pictures.

Rodney Marsh Cleans Stoke City Boots.


Time for Justice – 25 years on

25 years ago today 96 football fans died at Hillsborough Stadium in Sheffield whilst watching their beloved Liverpool FC.

There is currently an inquest into their deaths and bereaved families are reliving still painful and raw memories.

Someone’s father, someone’s mother, someone’s daughter, someone’s husband, someone’s son, someone’s brother, someone’s wife, someone’s grandchild, someone’s sister, someone’s teacher, someone’s colleague, someone’s friend, someone’s hero, someone’s inspiration, someone’s light, someone’s life  ………

Justice for the 96.


Photo: BBC


I’ve just spent the weekend in Islington and Highbury, London, for a family celebration. This afternoon the North London derby between Arsenal and Tottenham Hotspur kicked off at 4pm; this morning I walked around the Highbury streets, home of the Emirates stadium, experiencing the home game atmosphere. Here are some of my pictures. (Arsenal 1-0 Spurs)London 131

London 114London 127London 132London 112London 133London 138


The struggle for justice continues

April 15th 1989 was a dark day for Liverpool; it was a dark day for English football; it was a dark day for Britain.

In a neutral football stadium in Sheffield, in Northern England, two longstanding and proud clubs, Liverpool FC and Nottingham Forest FC, were scheduled to play a semi-final of the FACup, the largest and most prestigious prize in English football. The match kicked off at 3pm and was halted at 3.06pm. Within these few short minutes 96 men, women and children had had the life squeezed out of them in a filled-to-double-capacity standing room only “pen”. A further 766 sustained injuries. They were all Liverpool supporters. This awful tragedy has been well-documented here in England and a comprehensive account is available here.  It remains the most serious disaster in British sporting history.1989+Hillsborough+disaster

In September 2012 the truth about the Hillsborough disaster was finally made public: until this time the public had been duped by the systematic lying and deceit of the South Yorkshire Police, and insulted by the hysterical and sensationalist press especially The Sun newspaper.

The Wikipedia entry (which I’ve linked to above) explains everything, but is a long read. In short, and in my opinion, these are the bones of the matter –

  • The stadium was not fit for purpose, and should never have been used for such a huge match. Problems had come to light before and been dismissed.
  • From the time the stadium was opened to fans until the kick-off, the police acted irresponsibly,wrongly, negligently and without due regard for human safety.
  • The police prevented scores of ambulances on standby outside the stadium from entering to help the injured.
  • 41 of the 96 fatalities may have been avoided if the victims had received prompt medical attention. Only 14 of the 96 made it to hospital.
  • 79 of the 96 were aged 30 or under, the youngest just 10 years old.
  • 164 police questioned in the aftermath later systematically and fraudulently changed their statements so that responsibility for the tragedy was put squarely on the shoulders of the Liverpool fans.
  • Many survivors have continued to suffer severe emotional and psychological effects.
  • The lies were upheld by the authorities for 23 years. Shame on you all.

During those 23 years a group of people known as the Hillsborough Family Support Group, made  up of bereaved family members, survivors and other football supporters, has worked tirelessly to ensure that the truth was told and justice was done for the victims. It has cost thousands of pounds to keep the pressure on and pay the fees of legal experts. It is still unclear whether individual inquests into the deaths of the 96 will ever happen.

This week in the UK a song will be released to raise money for the justice campaign. It’s a cover of the 1989 Hollies hit “He Ain’t Heavy He’s My Brother” and is performed by an all-star cast of Liverpudlians, other concerned singers and sporting stars including:-

Sir Paul McCartney, Robbie Williams, Mel C (of The Spice Girls), Kenny Dalgliesh, Holly Johnson, Gerry Marsden, Alan Hansen, Ricky Tomlinson, Rebecca Ferguson, Beverley Knight, Paloma Faith, Peter Hooton (of The Farm) and John Bishop.

It is available as a download from iTunes.

Update 23rd. December 2012 :- I’m pleased to report that “He Ain’t Heavy, He’s My Brother” has been the biggest selling single of this week and is no.1 in the chart. Having the no.1 spot at Christmas is highly sought after – as there will be no new chart next week because of the holidays, the top spot is guaranteed for two whole weeks. The sale of the track has raised almost half a million pounds for the Hillsborough family fund, but more importantly it has shown that this is still a high profile case and the British public really does care about the Justice campaign.

Follow this link to an excellent new article on The Critique Archives http://wp.me/p1mmS-mf which explains exactly why the Football Association and Sheffield Wednesday Football Club, owner of the Hillsborough Stadium, must each accept their share of the blame along with South Yorkshire Police.

Runners Up

Summer Season is over. I’m pleased to report that my netball team Reed Silverside secured the runner-up spot and we have a reason to attend the end of year presentation dinner for the third year running. Not bad for the oldest team in the league: 2 players in their fifties; 3 players in their forties; 2 players in their thirties; 1 player in her teens. Thanks to Reeds the Butchers of Braunton for their continuing support over the last four years, and also to Reed Chillcheater of Braunton who have agreed to a new sponsorship deal for the next year.

North Devon Netball League, England.

Work That Body

OR ….. 7 Reasons Why Sport Is Ace

Our lives seem to be saturated with sport at the moment – Euros, Wimbledon, Tour de France, Golf, London Olympics – which is great for people like me, but tedious for others. While I understand that not everyone wants to have all the minutiae of sporting victories and disappointments thrust forward for their attention, I just wanted to stand up for sport and its positive aspects. So I gave it a bit of thought and came up with the following seven reasons why sport is ace:-

1. It gives some of us a focus in life

OK, so you are focussed on your education or your job or your family. Or you’re involved in campaigns and pressure groups and that’s what directs your life. Not everyone has the opportunity or confidence or ability (for whatever reason) to do that stuff, but sport gives them something special. Maybe it’s THE thing – what they shine at, what people will finally notice them for, what raises their self-esteem, the thing they want to get up for every morning, the thing they aspire to. Just because it doesn’t necessarily float your boat, it might be the only thing that enables some people to be active and engaged in the world.

2. It helps maintain a healthy heart

And lungs, and other body parts. It gets our bodies moving and working as they were meant to. That means our energy levels are increased and so we’ll feel like doing other stuff like gardening or playing with the children which are fun and rewarding in many different ways. Our muscle tone and strength will improve, we’ll reduce body fat and look healthy and rosy-cheeked. And who knows what that might lead to!

3. It’s Inspirational

Most successful sportspeople were inspired by some other sportspeople, and they will go on to inspire more in the future. Bradley Wiggins (allez!Wiggo) was inspired by Chris Boardman;  Paula Radcliffe is inspired by Mo Farah; how many youngsters have been inspired by David Beckham? For me, few are more inspirational than South African “Bladerunner” Oscar Pistorius; born with no bones below his knees,  his motivation has been so immense that he will be competing against able-bodied athletes at the forthcoming Olympic Games, and aims to get to the semi-finals of the 400m. Top 24 in the world! Good luck to you,Oscar; you are ace! We are (or could be) stimulated to a higher level of activity and achievement by watching the performance of others, and this is a positive thing.

4. It promotes teamsmanship

(I know that’s not a real word because it now has a red squiggly line under it, but I like it) Learning to work in a team is an important life skill; we all have different things to offer and that’s what makes the world go round ……(what?? really? not love?). Team sports develop our capacity for cooperation; we learn to listen to others’ ideas and strategies, bring them into play, evaluate their worthiness, appreciate each member’s contribution , give and receive praise and encouragement, and all in a supportive environment. Even individual athletes have a team – the Tour de France winner has a team of riders and technical support, Becky Adlington has a coach and possibly nutritionist, mentor and “keeper of the shoes”. As some dish-faced rich guy* once said, “We’re all in this together” (but that’s another story).

5. It gets kids off the street

(Or, in the case of my son and his mates, on the street in a skateboarding stylee). No-one really likes to see groups of teens hanging around, seemingly aimlessly, smoking or shrieking at the tops of their voices just trying to provoke a response (which is what’s going on next to my house right now). Personally, I would love to see those kids getting energetic – riding bmx, skating, playing footie or tennis, learning to surf; and I bet they’d enjoy it too if they gave it a chance. Better to be part of something than apart from everything.

6. Endorphins and serotonin

These are the hormones that make us feel good; they wrap us in a cuddly soft blanket of contentment. Now who wouldn’t want that?? They are released into our bloodstreams after we do physical exercise giving us a sense of power, euphoria and, yes, happiness (they’re also released after eating spicy food, during floatation and having an orgasm but I’ll leave those for another post).  When we feel relaxed and happy we function better with other people, are less grouchy, have fewer violent tendencies, can ward off anxiety, sleep better and feel less stressed. Sounds like good news all round. Hooray for the hormones!

7. Winning feels good

Winning feels great! Winning is bloody marvellous!  You trained for it; you made sacrifices along the way; you worked out your tactics (or maybe your megamoney sponsor paid someone to work them out for you); you gritted your teeth; you persevered; you did it! The elation of winning is second to none – at least for the time immediately after your victory – if you are winning as part of a team, it’s manyfold.  GROUP HUG!

Of course, it’s not all about the winning, is it? It’s the taking part…..

My netball team. 2011 Winter League runners-up and Summer League winners!

                                                                                                                               (*David Cameron)