HE’S NOT COMING HOME

You’ll never walk alone’ is the message expressed on the red scarf which hangs on the wall above Christian’s bed.

The dawn breaks on a grey Saturday morning in mid-April and a fifteen year old boy awakens from his sleep in high expectation to the sudden shriek of an alarm.

The ticket for the football match he will go to today nestles propped up against a table lamp on a bedside cabinet next to his bed.

His mother knocks the door, enters the bedroom to draw back the curtains and bring a hot cup of tea which he is slow to drink.

Cheddar cheese and pickle sandwiches dressed with water cress are prepared and wrapped in silver foil on the kitchen table.

It’s time to take a shower and hurry up a little because he must meet his friends and catch the coach at ten o’clock  for the two hour journey from Liverpool to Sheffield.

The drizzle when they left Sefton had turned to bright sunshine by the time the coach had reached the outskirts of Sheffield city.

Christian was going to watch his first ever live football match and what a match to pick!  The FA Cup Semi Final between Liverpool and Nottingham Forest.

He adorned the red shirt of Liverpool with the number nine on his back and the name of ‘Rush’.

His four friends dressed similarly.  7 for Beardsley. 8 for Aldridge.  10 for Barnes.  11 for Macmahon.

For all intents and purposes these five young Liverpudlians were the Liverpool forward line for the match that day.

It was a one mile walk from the coach park to the Hillsborough stadium which would normally take twenty minutes but for some reason on this particular day took much longer.

All Christian could take in was a sea of red and vociferous voices along the road and it was more of a march than a walk or a stroll.

Christian had finished his sandwiches on the coach journey and did as his friends did and stop to buy a hot dog along the way before getting within the proximity of the stadium.

The presence of police on horses was everywhere.  To Christian, it was a little overwhelming and intimidating.

He, however, went with the flow and presented his ticket at the turnstiles at about ten to two.

It was still a little over an hour to the kick-off.  The crowd was gathering and the atmosphere was building but the signs were beginning to manifest that all was not well.

Christian stood in one of the two central pens at the Leppings Lane end of the Hillsborough stadium and joined in the singing of the traditional football songs.  ‘You’ll never walk alone’ was followed by ‘We hate Nottingham Forest’ and ‘Two Cathredals’.

‘In our Liverpool homes, if you want a cathredal, we’ve got one to spare.  In our Liverpool homes’.

In the sudden chaos that then followed a few minutes before kick-off, Christian became separated from his friends.

The two teams came out of the tunnel and the match began as scheduled at three o’clock.

It is unknown whether Christian saw any of the five minutes thirty seconds which were played before the match was abandoned by the referee once it was realized something was not right at the Leppings Lane end of the stadium where the twenty five thousand Liverpool supporters were gathered.

The match was not broadcast live on English television but was being recorded for viewing on ‘Match of the Day’ later that evening.

Christian’s Mother had gone shopping to the Arndale Shopping Centre in Liverpool city centre that afternoon and was drawn to the shop window of an electronics store at around four o’clock as a small crowd had gathered to watch the breaking news of what was happening at the Hillsboorugh stadium.

Nobody then knew the implications of what they were viewing.

There was no way to immediately reach her son at that stadium in an age a generation before social media, internet and the mobile phone had become commonplace.

Several hours later, a mother trying to stay calm took a landline phone call from the distressed friend of Christian who simply said ‘He’s Not Coming Home’.

The world now knows that he was unlawfully killed that day.  It was no accident.

The red scarf still hangs above Christian’s bed. ‘You’ll never Walk Alone’

The ticket stub has been retrieved and preserved.

An autographed framed picture of Ian Rush is stationed  on the bedside table.

The bedroom is not a shrine.  His Mother would not allow that.

It is a living soul to remember a son who left his bedroom that morning in such high expectation and never came home.

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