Hello again! It’s been a while, writes David Agnew – somewhat sheepishly. Sadly, my illness deteriorated and I became unable to write. In fact I became unable to do much. Every time I came to write I just closed down. That could be anything from a shopping list, to a simple instant message.
Life had taken a turn, for the worse. I just wanted to say to the world “That’s it! I’ve had enough” and just quietly disappear. When you feel like that, you set yourself on a dangerous path, which has a short length and a rather sudden end. I wouldn’t advise approaching that path, as it takes a lot of strength and courage to turn back from it. The recovery from that dark path is long and rough. Thoughts fill your very being and consume you. It really is terrifying. Fortunately the new season was just around the corner and I threw myself into it with optimism. Maybe this would save me? Maybe. Maybe not.
‘It is worth a try though,’ I told by morbidly sullen self. Sadly, it wasn’t the solution.
I look out, every home game, on to the lush turf of Sincil Bank and smile. Thank goodness we do not play in a soulless bowl. Thank goodness for a traditional ground, improved in line with the Taylor report, and not so much traditional performances. I can’t remember the last time we have been so unsuccessful at home. I long for the days when we were fantastic. Thing is, I don’t think we’ve ever had a really great Home record (Graham Taylor’s 75/76 season aside) yet I am prepared to be corrected.
No, the football did not help me recover. A recommendation of a book did. This book, written by a local author (well Sheffield is local for me) James Crookes, got me out of bed, slapped me around the face and screamed at me. This masterpiece called “Do They Know It’s Christmas Yet?” explained what would happen if two siblings accidentally time travelled to 1984 and through this accidental journey, caused something not to happen. Before the siblings are accidentally sent back to this time they ask each other where they would like to go back to.
This got me thinking. Shortly after I finished the book. I didn’t just finish it, I devoured it, I saw our esteemed editor’s article in defence of the Steve (Boo Hiss, he’s behind you) Tilson’s era.
This got me thinking harder. Harder then I’ve thought for a jolly long time. “If I could go back to a time in the past, where would I go, and what would I tinker with?”
Of course being a football fan, temptation would be there to go to Valley Parade on 11th May 1985 or to fix it that Liverpool would play Nottingham Forest ar Old Trafford, instead of Hillsborough, for the FA Cup Semi Final in 1989. I mean, who wouldn’t want to stop those tragedies. Yet, the one rule with time travel is that it is sadly so regrettable that one person couldn’t change those events. Sooner or later they would have still happened, such was the dilapidated and wreckless conditions of many a stadia.
Would I go back and stop the police dog, biting a Torquay player on the final Saturday of 1987? Not likely, as I am petrified of big police dogs.
What would I change? I have to say, I would only change one thing. If I went back, I’d like to assume the position of someone in authority in Sheffield and get the authorities to admit their mistakes, following hat fateful April afternoon of 1988. Although it would be a difficult thing to try and achieve, it would prevent so many years of additional suffering and hurt, after being lied to for so long. It wouldn’t take the pain nor grief away from the families that lost people, but it wouldn’t have meant them having to go through another 25+ years to get to the truth.
Once I’d have achieved that, I would have made it my business to hear three people again. James Alexander Gordon, reading the football results. Brian Johnston to describe a beautiful summer’s afternoon and Richie Benaud giving some expert analysis on what Dickie Bird was signalling, irately at.
Some of you may question why I have written this article. Good, I’m glad, as it means you’re still awake! I just wanted to say that for some the past is where they’d like to be, all rose tinted, with Vicars on bicycles and old people tending to their Begonias, which are indeed lovely flowers. Yet, for others the past is painful, full of trauma and upset. It’s a place that prevents them from living in the present for fear that the trauma is still out there, threatening them at that very moment. One book and one article has helped me realise that while the past has its fair share of darkness, there is much lightness to find….even at the most darkest of times. Lightness gives hope. That’s what unites us as fans of this great club. Hope. Long may it shine.
To James and Gary, thank-you for reminding me that the past isn’t all bad.
Until next time.
Up The Imps.
If you have been affected by anything in this article, or you wish to talk to someone about anything that is upsetting you, you can contact the Samaritans 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. You can call 116 123 (free from any phone).