Campaigns - boycott to minute's silence
Since forming, as a proactive collection of Hillsborough families, survivors and supporters in Feb 1998, the Campaign has struggled to bring Hillsborough and the continued lack of justice back into the public domain on many occassions.
Many people are aware that all clubs now observe a minutes silence on 15th April following the group's letter campaign. In this section you can read on this and other successes the group has acheived, as well as ongoing activites.
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In February 1999, in response to a ground-swell of opinion, the Hillsborough Justice Campaign, wrote to all football clubs in the English and Scottish leagues requesting that they observe a minute's silence at the game they were to play on or nearest to 15th April (the tenth anniversary of the Hillsborough Disaster). At the same time the group contacted the Chief Executives of the English and Scottish FA's and the Premier League asking them to endorse the request. Tony Banks, the then Minister for Sport was also informed.
The rationale behind the request was that by observing a minute's silence, football clubs all over the country would be giving their supporters the opportunity to show a mark of respect to the dead of Hillsborough. It would also offer a gesture of support to bereaved families and survivors whom would derive a tremendous source of comfort.
The response was overwhelming. Both the FA and the Premier League instructed ALL clubs to observe a minute's silence. The following are extracts from the two organisations:
"I am writing to confirm that the Football Association has informed the participating clubs that there will be a minute's silence prior to each of the F.A Cup Semi-final ties on 11th April 1999. The Football Association believes that it is particularly significant that a tribute should be paid at the F.A. Cup Semi-final."
(David Davies, Executive Director, The Football Association)
"In remembrance of all those who lost their lives on that fateful day and as a mark of respect to everyone else who has suffered as a result of the events at Hillsborough , we are asking all our clubs to observe one minute's silence at their games over the weekend of 17th and 18th April. The whole of football will be united in grief and sadness as we remember the terrible events of ten years ago."
(Mike Foster, Acting Chief Executive of the FA Premier League)
However, even more pleasing from the campaigns' point of view was the fact that most clubs responded positively to the request of their own accord and prior to the instructions of the two organisations.
Sadly the one major club that ignored the request was Liverpool. This was in keeping with their policy of ignoring the Justice Campaign. Although they did hold a minute's silence it was in response to the F.A.'s instruction.
Likewise, Sheffield Wednesday responded negatively. Their reply to the request was terse:
"I am in receipt of your recent communication regarding the 10th Anniversary of the HillsboroughDisaster. As you may be aware it has been agreed that a memorial should be erected to coincide with the 10th Anniversary and the visit of Liverpool Football Club to Hillsborough on 8th May 1999. At the present time all matters are under discussion with the relevant parties and firm suggestions for the anniversary have not yet been finalised. Yours sincerely GRAHAM H. MACKRELL Company Secretary"
They obviously did not have the courage to refuse outright. It is also worth noting that this virtual refusal was sent by Graham Mackrell who had refused to allow families to place flowers at the spot where their loved ones died.
In any event the minutes' silence was observed by all teams (even the begrudgers) and this was warmly welcomed by all concerned. The HJC again contacted the Football Association this year (2000) requesting that a minutes, silence be observed. Again the response was positive. It has been agreed that there will be a minute's silence before the start of matches on the anniversary.
David Davies, FA executive director stated:
"The Hillsborough Tragedy shocked football throughout the world. The sheer horror of what happened will never be forgotten. We believe that fans will want to show their respect to those who died in such terrible circumstances."
The Hillsborough Justice Campaign believes that the Minute's silence should be an annual gesture on the part of football to acknowledge the dead of Hillsborough . We believe that we have paved the way for that to be the case.