The Last Word: Mum's dying wish shames Chelsea stance
Hillsborough victim's mother seeks one last victory in her virtuous fight against a cover-up
Sunday 04 November 2012
It takes a mother's love, and the terrifying certainties of terminal cancer, to cut through the cant and hypocrisy. Anne Williams does not want to know how long she has to live – she merely wants to live long enough to see her son given posthumous justice.
The political opportunists, conspiracy theorists and assorted hysterics who seek cheap publicity and bogus legitimacy through football's access to the national consciousness are shamed by the dignity of the Hillsborough campaigner, who has just been moved to a hospice in Southport.
Anne wants her final days to be spent with friends and family. Those friends are petitioning the Attorney General to bring forward the new inquest on Kevin, the 15-year-old son whose death at the 1989 FA Cup semi-final has consumed her life, so she can have closure.
That is an issue worth rallying around, at a time when perspective has been lost and emotions inflamed beyond reason by moral and intellectual anarchy. The dynamics of the debate must change before the process of alienation is complete. When football eats itself, we all suffer indigestion.
Instead of bullying the Football Association on the race issue, the political equivalent of seal clubbing, the Prime Minister might care to put his Big Society into action by helping to grant the last wish of a brave, inspirational woman.
Chelsea's persecution complex appears to be out of control. Compare the response of a rogue club to slights, real or imagined, with Anne's tenacity in taking her 23-year fight for justice to the European Court of Human Rights. She refused to be dim-inished by rejection, and was rewarded by the unravelling of an institutionally sanctioned cover-up.
The speedy resolution of her son's case has infinitely more importance than the posturing of such an innately divisive figure as Peter Herbert, chair of the Society of Black Lawyers. This fringe activist, prime mover in the ill-conceived, stillborn black footballers' union, has involved the police in football's affairs without a shred of independent evidence.
The Metropolitan Police face a crisis of human and financial resources so severe they are selling off New Scotland Yard. Yet they are being dragged needlessly into an arena which encourages politically correct expedience rather than mature reflection. Coincidentally, on the night Chelsea confirmed their decision to pursue Mark Clattenburg, I met three litigation lawyers at a social function. They were aghast at the apparent flimsiness of the case.
Football's climate of overreaction, first fostered externally on social media such as Twitter, has reached a tipping point. Anne reminds us of what we should be prioritising, instead of being hypnotised by the mutation of a game that cannot be saved from itself: "Kevin was a little boy who went to a football match and never came home."
He was one of 41 of the 96 victims who should have lived; his mother continues to resist the official verdict that he died from traumatic asphyxia 45 minutes after the coroner dictated life was an impossibility. Lack of care denied him a future. That is injustice. That is worth howling at the moon for.
Instead, too many – and I include my trade in this – are behaving like the Tricoteuses, the hags who knitted in the shadow of the guillotine during France's Great Terror. There is a lust for blood. The face of football is contorted by theatrical rage or thoughtless spite. Sky's coverage should be rebranded: welcome to Simpleton Sunday, presented by Jeremy Kyle. Today's debate: which referee deserves a death threat?
Perspective comes from a single word: "Mum". It was Kevin's last.
Anne Williams insists: "I'll keep on fighting – I've been doing it for long enough – but I'm not an idiot and know how serious this is. I just hope I get the chance to see justice for my beautiful son, and for the 96."
To help, sign this petition: www.epetitions.direct.gov.uk/petitions/40925
Gove is selling children short
The five-ringed Olympic circus has moved on. Only the clowns appear to remain.
The Education Secretary, Michael Gove, has sanctioned a rule change, which comes into force today, that is likely to encourage schools to sell off playing fields.
We are accustomed to his wilful ignorance and breathtaking arrogance, but his response to the 150,000 people who signed an online petition protesting at his plans to allow schools to reduce the size of their playing fields beggared belief. "I admire their passion, but they are wrong," he said.
Let them eat cake. Or burgers and chips. Heaven forfend that children should wish to indulge in something as proletarian as physical activity or competitive sport.
This, remember, is a Government who have allowed schools to ignore a target that they should offer at least two hours' PE a week.
Gove scrapped a scheme which was successfully sustaining school sport through links with local clubs. More than 30 playing fields have been sold off in two years, despite a pledge in the coalition agreement to protect them.
Behind the painted smiles of the Olympic photo-opportunities there was the smug certainty that sport had served its political purpose.
It cannot fend for itself because too many governing bodies are supine and unfit for purpose. How sad and predictable.
Over and out
Liverpool's Brendan Rodgers insists diving is not cheating. His defence for such nonsense is that every professional footballer is adept at the dark art of simulation. That quote, from a young, intelligent and apparently principled manager, is why football is beyond redemption.
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