Mark this date in your memory. Sunday January 6 2013.
For football fans, more importantly, Liverpool fans it was the day the hand of god played another role in the fight for justice. As I write social media sites are awash with a new wave of criticism for Liverpool striker Luis Suarez following his decisive handball that let to Liverpool’s second goal and ultimately the match winner in a 2-1 victory over Blue Square Conference side, Mansfield Town in the third round of the FA Cup.
Suarez is widely known for all the wrong reasons. Some justified and others perhaps not. His reputation precedes him with distinction the world over..
However today the real hand of god came from within Mansfield Town football club from Nottinghamshire. As a gesture of respect to the victims and families the club kept 96 seats at today’s match empty. Upon each seat lay the names of all 96 victims that perished on April 15th 1989 in the FA Cup semi final between Liverpool and Nottingham Forest at Hillsborough.
For almost 24 years there has been a fight to set the story straight. It was only late last year that an independent panel quashed the original verdicts that the deaths from Hillsborough were accidental, in turn paving the way for a fresh enquiry.
As a result justice shall be a step closer, which will, for many show there is light at the end of the tunnel in a long fight through the courts.
The spotlight on today’s match should not be on Daniel Sturridge scoring his first goal for his new club. Nor should it be all about the handball, or “hand of god” by Suarez.
What today proved is that a kind and gentle gesture from one football club to the families and victims of the 96 should be the real talking point. For many that is the real hand of god that was played out at Mansfield Town FC.