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john davies
notes from a small vicar
from a parish
in Liverpool, UK

    Thursday, April 15, 2004
    Hillsborough 3.06
     
    I feel tremendous respect for the parents of the Hillsborough victims, almost awe. They were so strong at a time when their world was collapsing. The parents saw the players as a means to revive their children. They never blamed us when the child remained unresponsive, still reliant for life on a bedside machine of lights and tubes. We did what we could, but I didn't expect to be a miracle worker. It was incredible when those two boys came round while we were at the hospital. It was difficult walking past parents whose child was still in a coma. As those two revived, people expected more and more to awake left, right and centre like a nice film where everyone recovers, opens their eyes and say, 'Hi, how are you doing?' But life is not like a Hollywood movie.

    - John Barnes, on the website of The Hillsborough Justice Campaign.

    Fifteen years on and still there's a lull in the city's rush at 3.06pm as many remember those who set out that sunny Saturday morning to watch a football match, and came back dead. Fifteen years on and still there's anger about the powerful protecting themselves and the influential misleading the people, there's still newsagents who won't stock the Sun, making a principled stance at their own expense against that tabloid's terrible smears against the people of this city. Fifteen years on and still people who were there suffer mental torment, physical pain.

    At 3.06pm on April 15, 1989 the referee blew the whistle on the Hillsborough game, Liverpool-Notts Forest, as people spilled over the Leppings Lane metal cages, out of the crush onto the pitch to try to save each others lives. I was at the other semi-final, Everton-Norwich, Villa Park, and it was later in the game that the news started filtering through to us that our friends and relatives were involved in something unprecedented, something awful. At home people stopped everything they were doing to listen to the incoming news; for hours afterwards mothers and wives and sisters and brothers and girlfriends and granddads stood by open curtains waiting for their loved ones to - please God - return. In the days before mobile phones it took hours before those at Hillsborough could tell anyone at home what was going on.

    At 3.06pm today all was quiet at Anfield at the annual service of remembrance. Just down the road here, traffic seemed slower and thinner for a short time. My imagination perhaps; but I know many in this city, in their small ways, kept vigil this afternoon. Though some will keep on fighting for it, the powerful will keep resisting, so there may never be justice for the families of those who died. But there will always be solidarity.