Remembering Anne Williams And Her Fight For Justice

Anne Williams died on Thursday, 24 years after the Hillsborough disaster in which she lost her son, Kevin. Paul Little pays respect to a woman who helped to reveal the truth...

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On Thursday, Anne Williams, one of the driving forces of the Hillsborough justice campaign, passed away, 24 years after her 15-year-old son Kevin was killed in the horrific crushes on the Leppings Lane End terrace in Sheffield in April 1989.

For 24 years, she fought for the truth about what happened that day and for justice. She fought against those who told her to let it go, to accept her son's fate, to accept that he and 95 others died in a terrible accident. She fought against an Establishment view that assured her that her son was dead by 3.15 pm and that there was nothing anyone could have done for him.

She was told to stop asking awkward questions and looking for people to blame - especially anyone who had a professional duty of care to Liverpool fans on April 15, 1989. Most terribly, most hurtfully, she was told that her son lost his life largely because of the actions of the fans he went with to watch the FA Cup semi-final that day.

It is a humbling thought. Twenty-four years. It's hard to conceive in many ways. Many reading this may not even have been born.

For fans like me, who gratefully accept the escapism the game offers, the major memories of my lifetime are often pinned to great football and sporting occasions. World Cups, European Championships, titles and trophy wins. Twenty-four years. Consider all that has passed in that time. Six World Cups. Six European Championships. Think how long we have to wait between each of these tournaments. It often seems an eternity.

And think how much the game itself and the manner in which we watch it have changed over those long years. All-seater stadia, the Premier League, the massive TV deals, wall-to-wall live football, the Champions League - all of this came about while Anne Williams was searching for the truth.

In that time, Sir Alex Ferguson has won all of his 12 Premier League titles with Manchester United. Jack Walker's Blackburn Rovers rose and fell. Arsene Wenger came to Arsenal, transformed them, won his three league titles, four FA Cups and suffered a seven-year trophy drought.

Anne Williams was fighting for her son for 14 years before Roman Abramovich came to London and changed the face of English football. Liverpool FC, who her son was so excited to see that day in Yorkshire, have had six different managers in that time while Manchester City have sunk as far as the third tier of the English game and come back to become super-rich champions. Consider that the career of the Premier League's greatest veteran Ryan Giggs' has played out over the course of Anne Williams' struggle - he made his professional debut some seven months after Kevin had the life squeezed out of him.

Anne Williams died on Thursday having played a key part in exposing the truth about one of the most heinous scandals in British history. She died having helped exonerate from guilt those who died and those who were injured and vilified on that day 24 years ago. She died having exposed the cover-ups and propaganda designed to divert attention away from those who were responsible for the disaster. And she died have smashed the lie that nothing could have been done to help save the lives of victims after the 3.15pm cut-off time designed to protect the guilty from blame.

Twenty-four years is a long time. A very long time. One can only hope that her achievements were of some comfort to her as she passed.

Paul Little

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