Wednesday, 29 August 2007

Respect At Anfield

A while back I criticised Liverpool fan's for their behaviour at this year's European Cup Final in Athens. Today I am happy to say that they have redeemed themselves.

The Liverpool and Everton rivalry is one of the more friendly ones in British football. Beating each other on the the pitch is for some the be all and end all of their season but once the final whistle blows there seems to be a (possibly grudging) mutual admiration for each other. This was summed up perfectly following the tragic consequences of the Hillsborough Disaster in 1989 - the loss of 96 Liverpool fans was felt just as deeply by their rivals as it was themselves. It seemed fitting that they played each other in that years final, with both sets of fans singing "Merseyside" together throughout the game.

This week, due another tragic event, the fans have again shown great solidarity. Following the senseless murder of 11 year old Rhys Jones ( an Everton fan) - shot dead as he returned home from football training - Everton themselves and their fans paid their respects on Saturday with a minutes applause for the young lad. Last night Liverpool fans showed their solidarity. At Liverpool fans' request Everton's theme tune Johnny Todd (better known as the theme from Z-Cars) was played before the teams came out at Anfield. Members of the Jones family received an emotional standing ovation as they stood on the pitch in their Everton strip. It's a cliché I know, but as the tune played over the speakers - something most probably thought would never happen at that ground - the respectful silence was deafening. The applause afterwards definitely was. As I listened live on the radio I couldn't help but think back to the time Portsmouth fan's showed how low they could stoop by ruining a minutes silence for club stalwart Ted Bates OBE - yet they make claims to be the best supporters in the land. Hopefully a few would have hung their heads in shame last night.

It some ways it was a little surreal. It was the type of occasion usually reserved to remember a deceased player or respected figure. Yet this was for an 11 year old boy, probably never even heard of by the vast majority until his untimely death. I guess this was a way for 40,000 people to show not just their support for Rhys' family but also their disgust for what happened - maybe just maybe this could be the trigger for everyday people to finally stand up against the gun thugs destroying our communities. Clearly the government has no serious intention of tackling the problem.

The video above is a fans eye view of last nights event . Not the best visual quality ever but just listening to it made the hairs on the back of my neck stand on end.

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