THE BLOG

If You Can't Shut Up for 60 Seconds, Don't Bother Attending a Football Match

14/04/2014 12:49 BST | Updated 13/06/2014 10:59 BST

It's been an extremely interesting weekend of football in England. The FA Cup semi-finals have been given a good shaking up by the presence of some unexpected names, victories for Fulham and Cardiff have given new life to the Premier League relegation battle, and the promotion and play-off dogfights in the Football League have either been resolved, in the case of Wolves, or kept in play, in the case of Burnley.

However, the main feature of the weekend has been one tinged with great sadness. As you are all probably, and certainly should be aware, this weekend marks the 25th Anniversary of the Hillsborough tragedy, when 96 football fans - their allegiance is irrelevant - lost their lives, due to the negligence of the authorities who were supposed to protect them, at an FA Cup Semi-Final in 1989.

Tributes have been extensive. From television features to minute silences, football and the media has done many things to try and commemorate those who died while trying to pursue a simple hobby they loved. But it doesn't seem quite enough has been done to raise awareness, which seems very strange given just how much Hillsborough has been in the news in recent months.

A couple of days ago, a friend of mine pointed out to me what he thought was a "funny typo" on the BBC Sport website. Look, he said, they've got all the kick-off times wrong, they all say 15.07, that's a bit weird isn't it? I had to point out that all games were kicking off seven minutes late to mark the fact that the Forest-Liverpool game at Hillsborough was called off after six minutes due to the deaths of fans in the crowd. 96 of them, in fact. He admitted he had no idea that the anniversary was this weekend.

But it's one thing to be unaware, another to be downright ignorant. That is the charge that must be levelled against some fans in regard to the weekend's commemorations.

I'm a Middlesbrough fan, and so spent last Saturday glued to the radio, listening to our clash with Burnley at Turf Moor. Before the delayed kick-off, they tried to hold a minute's silence. However, it was disrupted and eventually cut short, as a group of Boro fans refused to keep quiet, instead shouting, whistling and chanting, in some perverted attempt to grab fifteen minutes of fame. It marked the only time I have been ashamed to support Middlesbrough Football Club.

These people weren't accidentally oblivious to the sad occasion, they were deliberately trying to disrupt a memorial to fellow football fans who were killed trying to indulge a harmless passion, just as they were on Saturday. Football doesn't need people like that.

I think that clubs, not only Boro but all clubs whose fans tried to disrupt the memorials, should work to identify those people involved, and deliver sanctions. Not a life ban, but a short-term ban, maybe four or five games, just to send a message. After all, if you lack the mental capacity to keep quiet for a sixty second stretch, who really shouldn't be allowed to leave the house anyway.