Hillsborough and Boston put sport into perspective


hillsboroughThis week saw the 24th anniversary of the Hillsborough disaster in which 96 football fans lost their lives, it was also the first remembrance since the truth came out about the cover up by South Yorkshire Police, the Westminster government of the time and the late Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, who died last week and whose funeral it is tomorrow.

Individuals connected to Liverpool and to the Hillsborough disaster will write better than I ever could, their emotion would ooze out through their words as it touched their lives in unimaginable ways. I could never do it justice.

But all I can say is that in the week that we remember Hillsborough, we have had politicians clammer to laud Margaret Thatcher as a great leader, how she saved Britain etc – totally ignoring her part in the Hillsborough cover-up. The fact that they are trying to paint her in a light that is ‘holier than thou’ in the same status of Winston Churchill is deplorable.

Those families who were affected by the Hillsborough disaster and who had to deal with certain sections the media, the state and even the police discrediting their loved ones, spitting on their graves with their cover-ups are now in my opinion seeing another cover-up, a re-writing of history by the British Political fraternity.

I will not get into the nitty-gritty of how Thatcher ruined Scotland, safe to say Scotland is still suffering from her years in power and under David Cameron it looks as though Scotland is being subjected to Thatcherism Part Two, albeit a less masculine version under Cameron.

With the families of the Hillsborough victims gaining that relief from finally seeing the truth made public, the truth they knew which was there all along, the fact that no one will be held accountable for it – criminally – is another disgrace. The fact that serving Police officers at the time – high-ranking ones at that – can falsify evidence and commit fraud then escape scot-free because they are no longer in the service is deplorable, is cowardly and is a disgrace to our justice system.

So while the millionaire Tory Party lauds and celebrates Thatcher’s legacy, those who were at the sharp end of her politics be it in Scotland or the North of England will not. Many will protest – whether in London or in their local areas – either way her legacy will be stained by Hillsborough, by the miners strikes, with her collusion with Rupert Murdoch in the Wapping strikes and much much more.

Those of us who grew up in the 1980s and who remember Hillsborough etc will never forget the hurt that Thatcher and her cronies brought on the families of those who died.


Explosion at Boston marathonThis week, also saw the Boston Marathon take place. An annual event that sees tens of thousands of runners taking to the streets to raise money for charity, to test themselves in a sport that dates back to the days of Ancient Greece and for others to just take in the occasion. Sadly, terror reigned down on the Massachusetts city as two bombs ripped through spectators cheering on the runners, family and friends.

It is one of those ‘where were you moments’ just like Hillsborough and the attack on the Twin Towers – you will never forget where you were and what you were doing when you heard the news. In terms of Hillsborough, I was watching the end of what was Football Focus back then, as well as the news in my parent’s house in Erskine. As for September 11th attacks, I was decorating my flat with my late Grandpa and my mum, when we heard it over the radio.

martin-richard-facebookYesterday’s terror attack, will always see me remembering back to the moment when I heard the news, as I was holding my sleeping 16 month old son in my arms. Three innocent people have lost their lives already and many hundreds more have been injured physically and thousands mentally scarred for life. Within those three who died, was an eight year old boy who was at the marathon cheering on his father, waiting for him to finish, with his mum and sister beside him.

Whatever the motive for the attacks, whether it was home-grown or whether it was foreign terrorists, the real horror is families torn apart by disaster once again at a sporting event. An event that is supposed to be fun, about the atmosphere and the camaraderie. However, when everyone thinks of the Boston marathon from now on, they will forever remember yesterday’s cowardly attacks.

My father, ran the half marathon in Glasgow last year, helping to raise funds for Yorkhill Children’s Hospital through our charity page, as a way to thank them for taking care of my son who contracted viral meningitis when he was four weeks old. A moment in my life where not only did I feel helpless, but in having to hear my son scream in pain as he was getting tests conducted and blood taken. Screams that felt like a knife going through my heart. A moment of my life where I can honestly and openly say I cried uncontrollably over. 

My father was joined by thousands of other runners raising money for other needy charities and those scenes in Glasgow last year can be mirrored over in Boston as well as every other major city that holds a marathon. So I can imagine the families on the sidelines waiting with bated breath over their father, son, mother or daughter crossing that line, congratulating them over their achievement. Sadly this year’s Boston marathon, turned from a moment of celebration and of charity to a moment of horror and loved ones who were longing to see their family and friends cross the finishing line, had to deal with the horrors of what such attacks bring  upon them.

As a father I would never want to imagine what Martin William Richard’s father is going through, a son taken from him so early in his life. As the phrase goes – No Parent Should Have To Bury Their Child -sadly for Mr Richard, he has to do just that and help his daughter and wife recover from their serious injuries and the loss of their brother and son also.

And from one father to another, my heart and my thoughts go out to him at this heartbreaking moment. Just as it does for the other two innocents killed in this cowardly attack and those who were injured and maimed.

It is not the first time and sadly I doubt it will be the last time that sporting events will be targeted in this cowardly fashion, but one thing is certain, the petty squabbles, the pitiful whataboutery and the faux pas outrage that exists in our game and in other sports across the world pales into insignificance to the horrors that we witnessed in Boston and to the Hillsborough disaster.

Everyone at Scotzine passes on their condolences to the family of eight year old Martin William Richard, to the family of 29-year-old Krystle Campbell and to all those hundreds injured and the thousands that have no visible scars.


About Author


Andy Muirhead is the Editor of Scotzine and the Scottish Football fanzine FITBA. He is the Scottish Football columnist for The Morning Star and has written for a number of other publications including ESPN, Huffington Post UK, BT Life's a Pitch and has had his work featured in the Daily Record, The Scotsman and the Daily Mail.

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