IT’S not quite 2005, when we had Istanbul to look back on, or 2001 when we won five trophies in an amazing twelve months, or 1990, or 1986, or 1977… but looking back at the year that was, 2012 has still had – for better and for worse – some big moments in the history of Liverpool Football Club.
What was the biggest of the year?
We might say that winning our first trophy at the new Wembley in February was most important, or maybe it was the departure of a legend from the manager’s seat and the dawn of a new era?
When we look back on 2012 in the history of Liverpool FC however, one event, and one date, will stand out on the calendar and be most prominent in the record books.
At around lunchtime on 12th September 2012, the Hillsborough Independent Panel published a detailed 395 page report on the Hillsborough disaster in 1989. The Panel had spoken to witnesses, interviewed those connected with the tragedy and collected 450,000 pages of evidence before reaching and publishing their final, clear and unambiguous conclusion – we were right all along. The truth had been covered up, lies had been told, fans had been smeared and the bereaved families had been systematically betrayed by the people that were supposed to protect them.
Above all, the report was so clear, and so direct in its conclusions, that even those of us who had known the truth all along were shocked by how plainly they put the words in black and white. The dozens of police statements that were changed to cover up their negligence. The smears and the filth that were spread about the dead fans, so eagerly gobbled up by filthy tabloid press. The testing for alcohol levels in the blood of the dead children. The 3.15pm cut-off time that the families knew was rubbish. And the slimy, despicable way that the establishment figures proceeded merrily with the cover up, sleeping comfortably in their beds for 23 years.
The Panel’s report brought Hillsborough back into the limelight, and exposed the sheer hell of the ordeal that the families have been through in their relentless pursuit of justice for the whole world to see. Finally, the public could see – even if they could never understand – the pain that the grieving loved ones had endured, spending 23 years having doors slammed in their face, being accused of hysteria and melodrama whilst being told to forget about it and move on with their lives. They had been right all along, and they had never given up. Now, their moment of utter vindication had arrived.
None of us as fans should underplay the significance of this event in our club’s history. Being a Liverpool supporter is about being part of something bigger than just a football club – it’s about being part of a community of fans that are different to any other. Our knowledge of the game, our history, our respect for other teams and their fans and our understanding of the need to stand by, and stand up for, our own are what keep us together as fans of the greatest football team in the world.
For that reason, and no other reason, the moment that the truth was finally revealed stands head and shoulders above all others as my biggest moment of 2012 for Liverpool FC. Because in every year, games are won and lost, seasons come and go, trophies are won and managers leave as a matter of course. But we should never forget the things that keep us together, and bind us as a community of people that understand what it means to never walk alone.
2012 brought the truth to light in such a way that no-one again will ever doubt it. I only hope that 2013 will tie up the loose ends, and finally deliver justice for the 96.
Find me on Twitter @rossco1981