Beau­ti­ful game

Kapi-Mana News - - FEATURE -

‘‘I sat down next to this cop­per who was just in floods of tears and I started cry­ing my eyes out too, it wasn’t a good thing to go through for a 19-year-old.’’

A friend of Fearon’s found him and led him out through Hills­bor­ough’s main stand. He says he saw a po­lice­man on horse­back and got an­gry, but his friend dragged him away. Af­ter walking ‘‘many, many miles’’ into Sh­effield he rang his re­lieved mum – his house was full of fam­ily as they thought he might have died.

In the days fol­low­ing, Fearon talked with po­lice, who he said were fair. He didn’t want any part of law­suits be­ing dis­cussed and, to this day, re­fuses to blame po­lice en­tirely for what oc­curred.

‘‘It was aw­ful and ap­palling. One of my good mates, a bloody good foot­baller, died, but I didn’t think it was any­one’s fault. It was a se­ries of events that led to a tragedy.

‘‘ There weren’t enough turn­stiles, many of us ar­rived too late, they opened the gates and peo­ple piled in – it was just a num­ber of things. What saved me that day was my years in the Kop.’’

While he at­tended memo­ri­als, his at­ten­dance at games fell away. He did see Liver­pool’s ‘‘bat­ter­ing’’ of For­est in the re­played match and then vic­tory in the FA Cup fi­nal at a ‘‘sub­dued’’ Wem­b­ley in 1989. But he was un­able to sing LFC’s an­them, You’ll Never Walk Alone, for many years. The first two years af­ter the dis­as­ter, he sought so­lace in al­co­hol.

Fearon says get­ting rid of stand­ing room in UK foot­ball sta­di­ums, ‘‘ was the death of at­mos­phere’’ and, with bet­ter man­age­ment, it should have a place in mod­ern grounds.

Through the years there have been in­quiries, with sur­vivors’ fam­i­lies want­ing po­lice cul­pa­bil­ity and al­leged cover- ups brought into the light. None were more damn­ing than the Hills­bor­ough In­de­pen­dent Panel, which de­clared in Septem­ber last year that no Reds fans were cul­pa­ble, that lack of con­trol from po­lice was to blame and that up to 41 of the 96 who died could have sur­vived if the emer­gency re­sponse was bet­ter co-or­di­nated.

Fearon says it’s only in the past few years that he’s been able to talk about what hap­pened that day. He blanked much of it from his me­mory but can now re­mem­ber a num­ber of tiny de­tails. He re­cently opened up to his cousin in Lon­don, who was car­ry­ing out a school project on Hills­bor­ough and found the ex­pe­ri­ence cathar­tic.

He still does not like to see footage of the dis­as­ter but says it was the likely rea­son he fol­lowed the ca­reer path he did.

‘‘It prob­a­bly led to me be­com­ing a nurse. To see peo­ple just feet away from you and not be able to do any­thing [like CPR], I just felt help­less.’’

Since mov­ing to New Zealand in 2007, Fearon has been heav­ily in­volved in Porirua’s West­ern Sub­urbs club and says foot­ball re­mains ‘‘a re­li­gion’’ for him.

A Welling­ton Phoenix fan as well, his big­gest foot­balling ar­dour is re­served for the Reds.

He will con­tinue to go through the ups and plenty of downs that come with sup­port­ing the mighty Liver­pool FC and has even set up a Face­book page for fans – search for Welling­ton Liver­pool FC Sup­port­ers Club – so he doesn’t have to suf­fer alone.

April 15, 1989 is part of his makeup.

‘‘ What hap­pened at Hills­bor­ough will never shake my pas­sion, it shaped who I am.

‘‘Some of the best ex­pe­ri­ences of my life have been be­cause of foot­ball and Liver­pool.’’

For­ever red: Whitby’s Danny Fearon has Liver­pool FC in his veins and like many LFC-mad dads, will be pass­ing the ba­ton to at least one of his kids, if the bed­room wall poster is any­thing to go by.

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