April 29, 2014 at 10:00 am Leave a comment

Sport thrives on rivalries, it is what raises some games to mean more than others. Sadly any fan will tell you that most local derbies rarely live up to expectation in terms of a great spectacle, as the emotions tend to take over. However the pain of losing a local derby is greater than any other game.

When it comes to football every rival team has songs that they sing to put their arch rivals down. So there should be no holy than thou attitude taken on this issue. There are however lines that fans should never cross, and that is bringing into their songs or chants any tragedies that have affected the other club; completely off limits should be Hillsborough, Heysel, the fire Bradford and the Munich air disaster to name a few.

Those fans who were at games around England, Scotland and Wales on the 15th of April 1989, will remember news coming through at the ground that they were at, that the FA Cup semi final at Hillsborough between Liverpool and Nottingham Forest had been abandoned; there were no mobile phones in those days so the news came via radios in the ground. Most fans, if they are honest, simply thought the rivalry had spilled over into a fight between fans. It was only when news of fans having died started to filter through that attitudes started to change. Post game very few fans at the game this writer attended went to the pub, we all headed home to gain more news on what had happened; very few pubs had big screen televisions then. We then did not move from in front of our televisions as the enormity of what had happened unfolded. I am sure that every fan, from every club, who had been on the terraces as they were then, hemmed in with a large crowd, swaying as one, and being carried back and forth with the emotion of the game, knew that it could so easily have been them, and not those poor Liverpool fans who went to a game and never returned.

This was where rivalry became irrelevant, it was the brotherhood of football that meant something. Every fan knowing it could have been them and their fans, and relieved that it wasn’t; but sharing in the grief of those affected.

Anyone who was a fan at that time will know that such things are not joked about. More importantly the memorial erected  is there so that we never forget those poor souls. It is there as a reminder of how it could so easily have been any of us.

If, as is alleged, a person who purports to be a Chelsea fan spat at the Hillsborough memorial on the weekend following Chelsea’s victory at Anfield, that person’s actions are unforgivable. They are not a football fan. One thing is for sure they would not have been watching football 25 years ago. If this did happen, other Chelsea fans will know who the individual is, and they should make the club aware of their identity, as this individual has damaged the reputation of the club. It is then for the club to decide what it feels is the appropriate action, but surely fans of most clubs would not want such an individual wearing their colours in the future.

This person, not a fan, they crossed the unwritten line. They showed a lack of respect, and they need to be reminded of that fact for the sake of the game, Chelsea football Club, and more importantly the families of those who lost a loved one.

(For the record this writer is neither a Liverpool or a Chelsea fan).


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