It’s now thirty-five years since the Heysel Stadium disaster in which thirty-nine fans, mostly Juventus supporters, lost their lives at a football match against Liverpool when a wall dividing the fans of the two teams collapsed following a series of clashes.
This banner, which says ‘In memory and friendship’, is one of a number that have been made and displayed by fans over the years to express their regret and solidarity about what happened that night, and to go some way to healing the wounds between and within the two clubs and sets of fans. The banner pictured above was made by Liverpool supporters, including Peter Carney, Alf Langley & Billy Merritt. It was created from a Football Arts Initiative project which sought to help heal wounds. This second one is, I’m told, by Peter Sampara in which me brings together the two teams’ colours , national flags, team emblems and YNWA. (My thanks to Peter Carney for some of the background information on the banners.)
To mark the twenty-fifth anniversary of the tragedy, the club unveiled a plague at Anfield:
And in 2014, when the teams met again, there was another display of ‘friendship’ :
The recurring use of Italian symbolises the effort to reach out and show both empathy and solidarity. Liverpool fans are often attacked by their detractors for only seeing themselves as victims but the evidence clearly shows otherwise.
This isn’t the place to go over the events of that night and there are many accounts of it online. One of the more remarkable is Laurent Mauvignier’s (2008) novel In The Crowd (translated by Shawn Whiteside) which takes a somewhat oblique look at the events and aftermath of that day. It makes for very harrowing and uncomfortable reading but very worthwhile in helping us understand the complexity of emotions and contexts of that time.
In Memoria e Amicizia –In Memory and Friendship
Sergio Bastino Mazzino
Luciano Rocco Papaluca
Jean Michel Walla
Riposare in Pace – Rest in Peace