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Pete Wylie, formerly of The Mighty Wah! and best known for his 1998 track 'Heart As Big As Liverpool' - which has been adopted as an anthem by fans of Liverpool FC - examines the city's ongoing fight for justice on behalf of victims of the Hillsborough tragedy.



Forget football. This is not about football. On April 15, 1989, a shocking tragedy occurred. Yes,it was at a football ground - Hillsborough, the home of Sheffield Wednesday, and the neutral ground chosen for the FA Cup semi-final between Liverpool and Nottingham Forest.

But this is not about football. This is about justice. And it still matters.



That fateful Saturday, my mates had got me a ticket for the game, but my girl was pregnant with my daughter Mersey, and so I stayed at home to help out. There was no live TV of the game, just radio, and reports on TV sports shows like 'Grandstand'.

So when images from Hillsborough were shown on BBC1, you knew something was wrong. At first, you feared idiot violence, and the shame that brings on your team. But quickly it became clear that this was something different, and altogether worse.

Those shocking images of my fellow Reds, that horror, will never leave me. Nor will the fear I felt for friends and family, and beyond. And waiting for news all day was terrible - this was pre-mobiles, remember. So when finally around 8pm I got through to my family, and the news that they were on the way home, and safe, the relief was enormous. But ninety-six other people never went home from that game.

Those 96 innocent people were killed, just because they went to support their team, and they, as well as those left behind, have never had justice. But these horrors, on a scale unknown to my generation, also brought amazingly beautiful things.

The response from the people of Liverpool was magnificent, as was the response from most of the rest of the country, as people's usual allegiances fell away.

Musician friends of mine responded immediately. The first Hillsborough benefit I went to was at the Hacienda (in Manchester). Happy Mondays were the first of my mates to act directly, and thanks go to Nathan McGough for that. I went onstage with them, and a strong friendship grew stronger with each fantastic song.

And then we in Liverpool did our frist Hillsborough show. The Mission headlined - Leeds boys BTW - Lee Mavers, the mighty La, and an Evertonian, played too. And my hero Mick Jones, king of The Clash, and QPR, came up and played alongside me.

This was a great example of how the importance of the response went beyond partisan ties. It was all about the people - the human story (same this week - goodwill from all corners, from Celtic to Chelsea and more).

But more than any musician, the real hero of the awful aftermath was King Kenny Dalglish (then Liverpool manager). He was already a god to us - but he became a saint in the following months, attending funeral after funeral, and giving his time to the families wherever possible.

Of course, there can't be a hero without villains, and while South Yorkshire police may have been the villains on the day, in the awful days after, one 'man', and one publication took the villainous role in a way so despicable that they can NEVER be forgiven. A twat of the highest order, Kelvin McKenzie and his filthy shitsheet, The S*n (even now I can’t bring myself to write the name of that so-called newspaper) made such horrific, cruel,and false front page claims about Liverpool supporters (which ugly fans of some rival teams still celebrate) that the campaign against him and his rag is even stronger now than it was then. As if the grief, the horror, the sadness wasn't enough…

To compound the cruelty, it emerged that this anti-Scouse propaganda had been given to McKenzie by the hated Thatcher's Tory government, with their blessing (NEVER trust a Tory).

And the problem is, morons believed that crap. Jeez - some still do! So the legacy of those tabloid lies was to obstruct the search for the truth, to hurt the heartbroken families and friends and fans, and to engender generally negative attitude to Liverpool, which is only now starting to change back to the warmth we received in the preceding decades.

So this week we marked the 20th anniversary of the Hillsborough tragedy. It's been an opportunity to look back, and to look forward. Back to the truth, the detail of that terrible day, and the awful aftermath. Forward to the long-hoped for justice for the ninety-six. A chance to remind people that this remains unresolved. A chance to get the media, and the public, to look again at this important case. And to be honest, the response has been mostly magnificent.

I went to the service at Anfield, which was attended by about 35,000 people - what an amazing day. Thanks to everyone, here in the hometown, and those beyond. I am humbled.

Afterwards, I went to the reception for the families. I spent time with Peter Carney, who was there that terrible day, and who is still fighting via the Hillsborough Justice Campaign. He introduced me to Anne Williams, still fighting for justice for her son Kevin, 15. She's taken her case for a new inquiry as far as the European Court Of Human
Rights, and she ain't stopping there! And later, I went out with Jenni Hicks, who lost her two daughters at Hillsborough, and who is now part of the Hillsborough Family Support Group.

These are three of the most positive people I have ever met! And it is incredibly humbling to see how amazing, how determined, how beautiful they are after all the crap they've had to deal with. I - and many others like me - will do anything possible to publicise their situation. I hope you'll take another look too. Because, like I said, this is not about Liverpool, or even football. It's about a miscarriage of justice. And it must be resolved as soon as possible.

Footnote 1:
There was an official public inquiry, but it was inadequate, mistaken, and biased. There were the legal niceties of course, but no one was ever held to account, no apologies have been made. And the guilty have been let off the hook [so far]. Gordon Brown this week ruled out a further inquiry, although kudos to Andy Burnham for at least trying to do something useful here.

Footnote 2:
I'm further humbled by the use of my song to honour the ninety-six - and there's even a banner using the lyrics.

'Heart As Big As Liverpool'

When all the lights go out forever
Somewhere near the end of time
The noise will pass and the dust will settle
And you'll be on my mind

Now you won't find it hard to understand
Though it's so hard to explain
The who and what and how and why and wherefore
You kept me sane
You kept me sane

'Cos you were there for me
Oh, and you set me free
To be what I want to be
With dignity

Heart as big as my hometown
Lay me down by water cool
Heart as big as the city
Heart as big as LIVERPOOL

Well I'll come running from the other side
When I hear you call my name
And if somebody wants to point the finger
I'll take the blame
I'll take the blame (I'll do the same)

'Cos you were there for me
Oh, and you set me free
To be what I want to be
With dignity

Heart as big as my hometown
Lay me down by water cool
Heart as big as the city
Heart as big as LIVERPOOL

And I am not alone
And I am not alone
And I am not alone
And I am not alone

And I am not alone (You are not alone)
And I am not alone (You are not alone)
And I am not alone (You are not alone)
And I am not alone (You are not alone)

You are not alone

Heart as big as my hometown
Lay me down by water cool
Heart as big as the city
Heart as big as LIVERPOOL

Heart as big as my hometown
Lay me down by the water cool
Heart as big as the city
LIVERPOOL

(And you are not alone)
And I am not alone!


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