On Hillsborough and other football tragedies
Posted by John Beech on April 15, 2011
Today has rightly been a day of remembrance for the victims of what can only be described as the Hillsborough tragedy. Part of the reason for the scale of remembrance and the depth of emotion today is the continuing unanswered questions, well posed by David Conn in The Guardian (1).
I suspect that at least part of the reason is also the power of social media such as Twitter (2, and also 3). Of course, it’s the fact that it’s the anniversary of Hillsborough that determines the poignancy and scale of remembrance.
It often strikes me though that we are actually not very good at remembering the tragedies that have befallen football, except perhaps when we are reminded by an anniversary. Perhaps we should be more mindful of the scale of previous football tragedies:
- 1902 Ibrox – 25 fans died
- 1946 Bolton – 33 fans died
- 1971 Ibrox – 66 fans died
- 1985 Bradford – 56 fans died
- 1985 Heysel – 39 people died
- 1988 Kathmandu – 93 people died
- 1989 Hillsborough – 96 fans died
- 1992 Bastia – 18 fans died
- 2001 Johannesburg – 43 fans died
- 2001 Accra – 127 people died
- 2010 Kampala – over 70 people died in two bombing attacks on cafés where fans were watching the World Cup on television
And of course that is nothing like a definitive list. But I wonder how well we remember all of those events, let alone show our respects to the victims. Similarly, the Munich Air Disaster of 1955, when 23 people were killed, is very much in our collective memory, but the Turin Air Disaster, where 31 people died, is rarely recalled in the UK.
All I’m saying really is let’s try and be better at remembering on days which are not anniversaries, and let’s not all but forget some simply because they did not happen in this country. (I’m thinking particularly of Kampala – only last year, and the victims were not accidental deaths; they were murdered.)
To borrow from John Donne, the death of any fan watching a game or any player travelling to do their job diminishes us.