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Football does matter

This time of the year brings around two significant events for football fans all over the world - the FA Cup semi finals and the anniversary of the Hillsborough tragedy.

For the first time in many years the semi final has become an area of concern to every single Evertonian and has, for me at least, further brought into focus the travesty of errors that was semi final day in 1989. Today has always been a day on which I reflect on what football means to me and if it really is worth all the stresses and trials we are so used too. Indeed, are these footballing trials truly stresses we feel or are they merely annoyances and temporary disappointments sparingly laced with happy times. What could be more life changing than the events at Hillsborough? Conceding a last minute winner in a derby would feel catastrophic but not in the same stratosphere....... yes, we all know this to be true but it doesn't stop us feeling like our world has ended, when in reality it just adds another layer to our personality and makes us the Evertonians we are.

If football didn’t matter then 96 football fans would still be with us today, to them on their way to the stadium a semi final was all that mattered.

Saying football doesn't matter is an easy thing to say around mid-April and is a cliché banded about the media far too often when searching for the right words to print or broadcast. The truth is football does matter, but other things simply matter more - today's anniversary quite rightly brings these parts of life to the forefront of the mind for your own quiet consideration.

If football didn't matter then 96 football fans would still be with us today, to them on their way to the stadium a semi final was all that mattered.

If football didn't matter then the huge wave of sympathy for their families from fans all over the world would not have been so overwhelming - these people died because football is important and the tragedy sent shockwaves around the world because fans can relate to other fans no matter who they support and no matter in which part of the world and in what language they sing their anthems.

As an 8 year old in 1989 I struggle to remember the tragedy at Hillsborough, any memories I do have may well be the numerous clips of footage and articles I have seen whilst trying to understand and imagine what was going through everyone's minds as events unfolded. What I do remember vividly is one of (if not the very next) Everton home games that followed, or more significantly the fact I didn't go. I saw my dad getting set for the match with his trusty Everton scarf (he found it in the Wembley urinals during the Merseyside Milk Cup final in 1984 but that's another story?!) and I couldn't work out why I wasn't going with him. I can remember the sombre mood and questioning his reasons but obviously it wasn't until much later I realised he wanted to go alone to show his respects in the safe knowledge that his family of blues were safe at home.

There's nothing left for me to say about Hillsborough that more proficient writers haven't said before and I couldn't begin to try and do the campaign for justice any further credit or give it any more evidence of the support that it knows it has from all football fans, particularly Evertonians. There is a frightening realisation this tragedy could so easily have involved our own friends and family, and it was down to sheer luck that it did not.

Football does matter and goes some way towards moulding us into the people we are, but our friends and family are much more important than that.

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