A group of Liverpool FC fans is planning to walk a mile for each life lost in the Hillsborough disaster from Sheffield to Anfield to raise funds in the fight for justice.
The Reds’ Rose Walkers, who will also be joined by former Liverpool players Neil Mellor and Dominic Matteo, aim to take in nine football grounds as part of their journey in a relay effort which begins Friday 14th December and ends at Anfield the next day shortly before Liverpool’s home match against Aston Villa.
Speaking to JMU Journalism, co-organiser Cherie Brewster revealed she has been overwhelmed with the response from the public so far.
She added: “It’s just happened so quickly. When the Independent Panel’s report was released in September we saw it as an opportunity to raise funds for the causes associated with the disaster i.e. the Hillsborough Justice Campaign (HJC) and Hillsborough Family Support Group (HFSG).”
Although living in Stockton-on-Tees, Brewster has been a Liverpool supporter for over 40 years and explained how the idea came about. She said: “It was essentially prompted by the report from the Hillsborough Independent Panel.
“We wanted to take on a challenge which would honour the 96 and would pay tribute to the long, arduous struggle of their families and friends for truth and justice. Everyone was so inspired by the dignity and fortitude that the families of the victims have displayed for 23 years we felt it was time to show our support in a way that only the ‘Liverpool family’ knows how.”
Since the original plans were released last month, participation has now swelled from eight to 12 people, with former rugby league star Bobbie Goulding and his two sons offering their support to the group.
Brewster explained the walk is to be split into 16 stages of approximately six miles with a different group of three or four walkers on each stage out of the core team of 12: “We would like to have included as many people who wanted to do it but logistical and time constraints precluded that,” explained Brewster.
Fellow organiser Mike Wilson, 47, of Halifax has added motivation having survived the crush on the Leppings Lane terrace with his dad David. He told JMU Journalism: “I once stood looking at the Hillsborough Memorial wondering if things had happened ever so slightly different. My dad’s name, my name or, God forbid, both of our names could be there.
“For me what came out was the proof rather than the truth, because we knew the truth already.”
Having gained the support of the HJC and HFSG, Brewster feels that the Hillsborough disaster has now been acknowledged as “a wider issue” since September’s report. She added: “Anyone could have been affected. This walk gives us a chance to tap into fans of other football clubs and hopefully they can show their support by raising ‘£96 for The 96′, the main method of our fundraising.”
Having been pledged over £4,000 in donations so far, the Reds’ Rose Walkers have not set a particular figure they aim to raise but Brewster herself feels £15,000 is “a realistic target”.
For more information on the £96 for The 96 and the Reds’ Rose Walk, visit https://www.fromthekop.com.