Tuesday, 18 October 2011

Victory for Hillsborough victims....at last

A slightly different entry today as I celebrate the verdict of the Government to ensure the release of all files and details of the horrific Hillsborough tragedy which occurred twenty two years ago.
Ninety-six unsuspecting football fan's died, 766 were injured. A human tradegy didn't really sum up the scale of the disaster.

All the injured and dead were Liverpool fan's, something which rocked the City and the whole Country, and still to this day, the families of the deceased and the injured still seek the answers they feel they are entitled to.

The Hillsborough disaster was and still is the deadliest stadium tradegy in British history, and one of the worst in International football, coming just four years after the infamous Heysel accident, also involving Liverpool.
Heysel though was a completely different set of circumstances and it has been proved that at a time of football hooliganism, Liverpool fan's were at fault for the Belgian incident.

This time however they were most certainly not, and although the authorities pointed the finger at the fan's of England's most decorated club, there were so many differing statements that this will cease to be the case.
The ground of Sheffield Wednesday was being used for the F.A Cup semi final between Liverpool and their rival's Nottingham Forest, the game was abandoned after just six minutes due to the severity of the happenings in the Leppings Lane end of the ground.

The stall wart sport programme of the time, Grandstand, cut to live pictures as the bedlam ensued, showing harrowing images of the human crush. The country watched as football fan's, just going to watch their team in a showpiece semi-final, clambering over anything and anyone to sustain their life.

As the happenings unfolded, supporters were seen ferrying their fellow supporters on advertising boards being used as makeshift stretchers, up to but not beyond a line of police which had been assembled along the half way line to stop Liverpool supporters from getting to the Nottingham Forest fan's at the other end of the ground. This was clearly not the case as people of all ages died amidst, in my opinion, severe police negligence at the dealing of the situation.

The facts are staggering, ninety-four people died on the day. People of ages ranging between ten and sixty seven. Seven hundred and sixty six more people were injured, of which three hundred were hospitalised.
Four day's on the toll rose another one victim, a 14 year old boy, attached to a life support machine, gave up the fight and the total stood at ninety five dead.
It was nearly four years after the fact that the death toll reached its final number as twenty two year old Tony Bland was taken off of life support after showing no sign of improvement and remained in a vegetative state.
Seventy nine of the victims were aged thirty or younger, the youngest of the victims was ten year old Jon-Paul Gilhooley, the cousin of Liverpool's current captain Steven Gerrard.

Out of forty four ambulances that were in attendance that day, only one was let in to care for the injured and dying.
Accusations were quick to emerge, in the era of football hooliganism the English tabloid The Sun was first to brandish generalisations of the fan's that had been in attendance, nearly all of which has since been proved to be un-found. This publication of false information still berates Liverpudlians and many of which still boycott the purchasing of the paper to this day, and will do for a long time to come.
Following the tradegy an inquest now widely known as the Lord Taylor enquiry was published. This was a more in depth look into the factors that contributed to the deaths and injuries of so many innocent people.
This report dismissed many of the conspiracies surrounding police accounts of the day, contradicting stories and reports were put to bed by the ground-breaking Lord Taylor.

As a direct product of the enquiry, the fences and stadium security measures were scrutinised and in lew of this the fences were torn down and standing terraces were no longer standard in England.

The Coroner Dr Stefan Popper, had declared that all victims were dead or brain dead by 3.15 p.m on the day of the match, just nine minutes after the game had been abandoned.
One of the victims mother's, Anne Williams, who's son, via witness statements was still showing signs of life at 4.00 p.m the same day was angered at the coroner's decision, which was clearly a flawed decision by the professional commissioned with the dealing of the bodies. Her case against the 'cut-off' signalled by Dr Popper was rejected in 2009.

The on-going fight for the truth and answers rages on, twenty-two years after the fact. Yesterday the case for the files to be released as public information was heard in the House of Commons after an e-petition in favour of this rose 139,000 signatures.
The unanimous decision was upheld by the entire room and the files will get to see the light of day, and the families of all the victims will finally get some answers, whether they are the answers they are hoping for, time will only tell.

All the families want is the truth, and if people are held responsible then so be it, but this is not why they have pushed for the information to be released. They just want answers, the true answers....and who can blame them....

Wednesday, 12 October 2011

International break is over......now back to the REAL football....

The farce which is International football has now been and gone, the time to reflect on the last round of games in the Premier League is almost over and we can look forward to best league in the world returning to the forefront this weekend and it promises to be a cracker!!!!!
Last time round it was 'Derby' weekend as the teams from North London clashed whilst the Merseyside battle also played out in equally controversial fashion.

In the game at White Hart Lane the droves of Spurs fans witnessed their side get one over on the old enemy, Arsenal struggling for any kind of result, and in truth they didn't deserve anything as the pressure continues to mount on Arsene Wenger.
They really are in trouble, lacklustre defense and for all their endeavour, a pretty toothless attack as well, truly worrying times for the Gunners this year having already lost four games, a tally that almost counts a team out of the title race in any other season.

This season I can see it being less than this, and Arsenal certainly are not going to be in the running for the silverware.
They welcome a team, that is struggling just as much in Sunderland, to the Emirates on Sunday looking to give their season a bit of stability, something they dearly need. Sunderland have been poor recently and I can only see one outcome, an Arsenal win.

The victors of the North London derby, Tottenham, travel up to the North East to face an in-form Newcastle who have been in great form and boast the best defensive record in the league, and you would never have thought that October!!!!

Record's aside, Newcastle have not been tested. They faced Arsenal on the opening day, and we all know it's not the test it was and ended a draw, apart from that only Villa proved to be a real test and that game also ended up a draw.
Spurs had the morale boosting victory over the old foe and in an attacking capacity they look potent with Defoe looking like he enjoys the partnership with Adebayor. The Togo front man is in a race to be fit and I think if he makes the game, then Tottenham will nick it.

The other derby last week, the awe-inspiring Merseyside affair, always seems to produce talking points, good and bad and this one was no different.
It was pretty even up until Rodwell was wrongly shown red for a great tackle on Luis Suarez on 23 minutes, after this a few crunching tackles were flying around and the visitors emerged with the points as Andy Carroll got off the mark for the season and Suarez himself notched to round off the 2-0 win for the red's.

Everton battled hard but were unable to keep them at bay, and they can take heart from their performance.
This week they travel to Chelsea and will hope they can show the same commitment and desire and at least take something out of the game in London.

Chelsea had travelled to Bolton for their last game and it was not the tough game we have all come to expect from the home side as Chelsea brushed them aside with under-fire Frank Lampard netting a hat-trick. Bolton were hap-hazard and deserved to be punished, the fixtures haven't been kind to Owen Coyle and his men and the table shows it.

Manchester City host Aston Villa in a game that sees plenty of ex Villains taking to the field for City. Both teams enjoyed wins last time out and obviously both cannot this time and you would have to be silly to not think that home advantage and having the best squad in the country, that City are not going to win this one.

Two of the league's new boys go head to head as Norwich take on the Swans Saturday afternoon. Norwich have started well for a team that was immediately relegation cannon fodder from the 13th August. They have however battled and played some nice football and enjoyed some good results.
Swansea were renowned for playing the best football in the Championship last year and this year they haven't changed their philosophy and why should they?!
Gradually they will pick up points and home form will be key, but I see them notching an away win here. I feel their brand of football is great and it twins their attitude for success and passion and I think it'll be to much for Norwich, tight Swansea win here for me.

The other promoted side Q.P.R see Blackburn come to town and surely Rangers fans must fancy their side to get all three points in this one. Blackburn under the guidance of Steve Kean look completely lost and well out of their depth, Q.P.R have had a cash injection which will add fuel to those players pulling on the hooped shirt, and I can really only see one winner, Q.P.R fairly easily here I think.

Fulham travel up to Stoke as they look to build on their 6-0 thumping of Q.P.R last week. A first hat-trick in the Premier league for Fulham, with Andrew Johnson's name along side it, will no doubt give the Cottagers confidence going into this game and they'll need it, Stoke will be smarting from their defeat to Swansea last week and are very tough to beat at the Britannia Stadium, so in this game I think it'll end up all square.


The penultimate game is West Brom vs Wolves which for many would have seen it's own six pointer stamp put right over the top of it but both these sides have started pretty well and Wolves especially are playing some great football whilst being quite robust at the back also. West Brom have also been playing well and the table gives me a slightly false impression of both of these sides. As for the outcome of this one I will have to say.....draw.

Now last but by no means least......the champions Manchester Untied travel to their fiercest rivals Liverpool in the Saturday lunchtime offering.
This is the biggest game in both sides calender and one both sets of players and supporters instantly look for, this game is bigger than either sides derby games would you believe!!!
Liverpool went to Everton and got themselves three points two weeks ago and they will take that as a building block for this game. Add to that the imminent return of their Captain Fantastic, Steven Gerrard, this could have all the ingredients of a blockbuster.

United battled through an awkward victory at home against Norwich where they won 2-0, it wasn't the most convincing win for Alex Ferguson's side but it was still a win, something that champions do.
Rooney was missing until late in that game but I'm sure he'll start against Liverpool, and after his petulant kick out in England's Euro Qualifier ending in a red card for Rooney, I'm sure he'll get a warm reception from the ever loving Kopites.

Massive game and probably the hardest to predict, I'll plump for home win, narrow victory for Liverpool, mostly due to home advantage and the return of Gerrard. But United haven't been playing particularly well and it could take them a little while to get back in the old routine.......

For any of you out there that fancy a flutter, my selections for this weekend is a treble, home wins for Manchester City, Q.P.R and Liverpool......