Sunday 12 April 2009

It was 20 years ago that Popguns had to delay the release of 'Landslide'

I'm going to see Grimsby play Notts County tomorrow. Only my second game of the season, and I've probably been averaging about two games a season for the last five or six years now, such is my continuing apathy towards Football in the Modern Era.

I used to go to every home and away game from the age of about 15 until I was 19. These were good times to be a Town fan, of course. The horrible mid- to late-80s gave way to Alan Buckley's wonderful brand of passing and movement, and players like Shaun Cunnington, Gary Childs, Dave Gilbert and the moustachioed John Cockerill were busy waltzing around Fourth and then Third Division opponents on a weekly basis. Even Keith Alexander looked good playing for a Buckley team.

There's been much ruminating on the 20th anniversary of Hillsborough over the weekend. I've just finished watching the repeat of Match of the Day, and it was strange to see Alan Hansen talking about it and appearing genuinely upset. In a time when hyperbole regarding the emotions around football is so common, it was a rare thing to see someone struggling for words to display how he felt.

Anyway, on the day of the Hillsborough disaster I was stood watching Town draw 1-1 will Hereford. You could spread your arms out either side of you and you'd still not bump into someone else in the Pontoon that day, so it was a very strange feeling indeed to be in a ground with two and a half thousand other people, whilst an hour up the road people were being crushed to death.

Town's already antiquated electronic scoreboard kept flashing up how many people had been reported dead. It still only got to about 12 by the time the final whistle went on a match that no-one was taking any interest in at all. So, it wasn't until I got home and my Dad was glued to the telly (he hates football, but loves a disaster) that I found out the full extent of what had happened.

They say that Hillsborough turned football into what it is today. I'm not sure that's much of a fitting tribute to the people who died, really. But then I'm not really sure about much in football these days.

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