At 3.06pm today, silence will be kept in the cities of Nottingham, Sheffield and Liverpool to mark the twentieth anniversary of the Hillsborough Disaster where 96 Liverpool supporters lost their lives for simply going to watch a football match. For a preview of the day from the BBC news pages see http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/england/7999279.stm. On this morning’s Thought for the Day slot on BBC Radio 4, the Anglican Bishop of Liverpool, James Jones, spoke about the raw sense of loss and grief that is still very tangible in Liverpool as he prepares for this afternoon’s memorial service. A few years ago one of my favourite bands of the day wrote a song about the tragedy of Hillsborough and they were very clear about where the blame for this lay. The song was entitled South Yorkshire Mass Murderer and singled out the Senior Police officer running operations for that day, with lyrics including “There’s nothing I could ever say that could really take the pain away”.But today is not a day for blame but a day to remember and commemorate the lives of those lost. But that sense of raw grief and emptiness is what many people will feel today- players, supporters, survivors, relatives and friends of those who lost their lives. Sometimes as Christians we feel there is so little we can say or do in the face of what seems unjust, genuine tragedy- but when can pray. To see the names and faces of those lost in the disaster to help you pray for them by name click here http://www.liverpoolfc.tv/news/drilldown/N163964090414-2356.htm
Today the great hymn abide with me will be sung at Anfield and our prayer today surely is that the 96 will indeed be abiding in and with God as they are remembered . their deaths changed the face of football and, like the eternal flame burning outside the stadium at Anfield, their memories will never fade.