"In the end, it's not the years in your life that count, it's the life in your years." - Abraham Lincoln

Posted on April 16, 2016 by Sioux under Green Door
1 Comment

 

A home from home, and a place I have visited every year, bar 2, for the last 10 years is Spionkop Lodge near Winterton in Natal. The SA LFC Gauteng Supporters Club meet at the Lodge and travel to the top of Spionkop in order to remember the 96 football fans that went to watch a football game on 15 April 1989…..and never got to go home.

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JFT 96
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Bench and memorial stone

Many football grounds in England in the Premier League and Football League have one terrace or stand in their stadia named “Kop” or “Spion Kop” because of the steep nature of the terracing. This was the result of the sports editor for the Liverpool Echo, naming the football field’s terrace after the hillside, “because the steepness of the spectator stands resembled the hills of Spioenkop”. In 1904, another journalist had noted that “the silhouette of fans standing on the steep banks looked like the soldiers on top of the hill at Spioenkop”. It was 22 years later that the stand at Anfield officially took on the name. The name of the Anfield terrace has its roots in KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa, at a place where more than 300 soldiers of the Lancashire Regiment fell, many of whom came from Liverpool.

A bench that stands on the verandah at Spionkop Lodge,  designed and paid for by a handful of LFC supporters, is iconic in its design in many ways – firstly a seating place, based on the outcome of reports following the Hillsborough disaster, which declared all stadiums now had to be seated only, no standing. Secondly the 2 eternal flames on each side – one in memory of the Liverpool Football Club fans who died at Heysel and the other for The 96. Lastly, 96 slats make up the bench – one for each person that went to watch a football game at Hillsborough on 15 April 1989, and never went home.

The marble plaque on the wall above the bench bears the names of the 96 victims of the Hillsborough Disaster.

Ties between the hill and the football club are still kept alive by the South African Liverpool FC Supporters Club, who gather at Spioenkop on 15 April every year to remember the 96 fans who had lost their lives at the Hillsborough disaster in 1989. South African supporters also needed a place to go, to remember the 96. The obvious choice was, of course, Spioenkop.

 

JFT96 – YNWA

 

One response to “JFT96 – YNWA”

  1. Carol Thomas says:

    Hi Sioux, this was the most memorable, emotional weekends we have had in a long time. The history of the Hillsborough disaster and Spion Kop was absolutely awe-inspiring.
    God willing we will be back next year

    Thank you
    Carol and Jomo

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