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Ricky Tomlinson starred as Jim Royle in the Christmas Day special of The Royle Family (photo: Dave Evans)

So what did you watch on the box this Christmas Day past? Television was pretty garbage overall I have to say.

The BBC viewing figures for its festive schedule were reportedly 20% down on last year, so it’s going to be a long time until we see people tune into one single programme topping the much liked Only Fools and Horses or national treasure The Morecambe & Wise Show, which attracted 28 million viewers in Christmas 1977.

One programme I did watch, however, was one made right here in the North West. An hour-long Christmas Day special of The Royle Family.

The drama was aired on BBC 1 at 9pm during Christmas Day in 2009 and, according to Wikepedia, attracted viewing figures of 10.2 million.

The Royle Family is made by Jellylegs Productions for the BBC on behalf Granada Television and is written by Craig Cash and Caroline Aherne.

Both writers have connections to the region with Cash being from Stockport and Aherne having been raised in Wythenshawe, Manchester.

For the one off Christmas Day special, titled ‘The Golden Egg Cup’, the cast, which includes Cash and Aherne with other North West born actors Ricky Tomlinson, Sue Johnston and Ralf Little, together with the production crew for the drama, spent two weeks filming in one of the three sound stages located within The Pie Factory based at Media City UK in Salford Quays.

The Pie Factory is owned and managed by Peel Media and was opened in January 2007. The facilities were used for the making of the last Christmas Day special of The Royle Family in 2008, titled ‘The New Sofa’.

The former cavernous warehouses now accommodate three sound stages taking up over 15,000 sq ft and also incorporate a full costume department, make up rooms, dressing rooms, green rooms and office space.

Sinead Greenaway, CEO of the Peel Media group, said: “It is the second year running that The Royle Family Christmas special has been shot at The Pie Factory and we were overjoyed to welcome the cast and crew back. The facilities provided a great space for the production to build the renowned set for a show that has become a highlight in the Christmas viewing calendar.”

The Royle Family might not be to liking of everyone but it’s fantastic to see a drama, made in the North West and using local talent, occupying arguably the best prime time viewing slot.

But even more impressive is the availability of facilities currently within the region to make programmes of this calibre, ones that collect BAFTA awards as The Royle Family has done in the past.

Five days prior to The Royle Family being aired, another comedy drama was being broadcast on rival channel ITV1.

Using the same Media City UK facility, The Fattest Man in Britain, written again by Caroline Aherne but with Jeff Pope on this occasion, was made early last year.

Greenaway added: “The Pie Factory sound stage used for The Fattest Man in Britain is a fantastic space for production companies and advertising agencies, because it has its own private entrance, green room, dressing room and make-up room. We are delighted that the crew decided to film here.”

The one-off 90 minute drama, inspired by a true story, attracted plenty of media coverage with actor Timothy Spall being seen twice his normal size on the Salford set in the lead role of Georgie Godwin, dubbed “eighth wonder of the world.”

The Fattest Man in Britain also starred Oldham-born Bobby Ball of Cannon and Ball fame, as Godwin’s agent and sidekick, Morris Morrissey.

Music by Manchester-based artist Badly Drawn Boy was also used in the drama, which certainly was a high profile production for The Pie Factory so lets hope for more of the same this year.

The Pie Factory forms part of the £500m Media City UK complex, which will be home to around 5,000 workers, students, residents and visitors when the first phase opens.

The BBC will move nearly 2,500 staff to Media City UK from 2011 onwards, including five departments currently based in London. The keys to the first of three buildings for the BBC were handed over in mid-October last year.

For more details on Media City visit the Place North West website

Welcome to WordPress.com where you can access my thoughts, reviews and insight into the encounters with those crossing my path…

(photo: Joel Anderson)

(photo: Joel Anderson)

So negativity falls on Liverpool’s shoulders again today.

Not long after Building Design mentioned two of the city’s buildings were being nominated for its Carbuncle Cup this year, the architect magazine announced Merseytravel’s Pier Head Ferry Terminal – submitted into the ‘competition’ by a David Swift – was the ‘winner’.

The editor of the magazine, Amanda Baillieu, wrote on Building Design’s website that the winner had to be a “building that shows how bad architecture and bad planning can combine to produce something truly awful — a building so ugly it can turn human flesh to stone or at the very least make grown men cry.”

She said Building Design columnist and critic Owen Hatherley, its buildings editor Ellis Woodman, and architect Sean Griffiths of Fat “were split between the Nottingham and Liverpool buildings”.

So why Hamilton Architects’ Ferry Terminal? Baillieu writes that “given the damage inflicted by the ferry terminal on what is a Unesco world heritage site, it was the more worthy recipient.”

Personally, I still think Building Design’s “runner up” should have been voted in first place and going by the above picture many must agree. It’s hideous.

The Amenity building was designed as part of University of Nottingham’s first phase expansion of its Jubilee Campus by London-based architects Make.

Originally, the university appointed another London-based architect practice, Hopkins Architects, to deliver a masterplan and a number of relatively low-rise, timber-clad buildings.

Hopkins’ masterplan comprised a subtle grid-iron arrangement running north and south against a background of small man-made lakes. But not all of it was implemented, and in the second major stage of the site’s development the university commissioned another masterplan, this time by Make.

The new layout, which was granted outline planning permission in 2005, was substantially different to the plans by Hopkins. It included three buildings with the Amenity building being one and International House and the Gateway buildings being the other two.

Baillieu continued by saying that the judges felt the Ferry Terminal and Make’s campus are “very much of a type in that they are both in thrall to some horribly misconceived idea of the avant–garde.”

One Park West has been nominated for 'Carbuncle' prize

One Park West has been nominated for 'Carbuncle' prize

One of two Liverpool buildings could be named as “the most hideous new building completed in the UK in the last 12 months”, according to the architect website Building Design.

The nominations of Grosvenor’s One Park West and Merseytravel’s new Ferry Terminal, made earlier this month, has caused a fair amount of media attention in the North West and reaction.

Both have been nominated into this year’s Carbuncle Cup, which is organised by BD and now in its third year, and both join another eight buildings in a ‘longlist’.

Liverpool Preservation Trust, founded by Wayne Colquhoun, nominated Grosvenor’s apartment block into the ‘prize’.

Designed by architect practice Cesar Pelli, which has been renamed Pelli Clarke Pelli, One Park West is one of the many new buildings Grosvenor integrated into its 42-acre £1bn regeneration project for the city centre, known as Liverpool One.

The Liverpool One masterplan was led by architecture and urban design practice BDP’s Liverpool studio, which has been nominated this year for the biggest architect prize of all – the RIBA Stirling Prize.

Building Design Magazine describes The Carbuncle Cup as “the Stirling Prize what the Golden Raspberries are to the Oscars.”

Opinion about One Park West is certainly divided. Explaining its reason for the nomination on its blog, Liverpool Preservation Trust said: “LPT nominated the horrendous One Park “Gone” West as a crime against architecture the building they, promised us would be Ichonic and it turns out Ichronic. Grosvenor promised us a building by a world class architect, a Cesar Pelli…….and they give us a Cesar Salad.”

Ignoring the misspelling and play on the word chronic, we get the point made by LPT. They basically don’t like the building or the architect firm behind it. In the building’s defence, Guy Butler, a senior development manager at Grosvenor, was quoted on the BD website saying: “Love it or hate it, One Park West is here to stay and I’m proud to say will continue to provoke debate for many years to come as any landmark building should.”

Butler was speaking prior to a specially arranged ‘hug’ of One Park West which had taken place on Wednesday this week, when people from Liverpool or those in the city at the time showed their support for the potential worst new building in the UK by holding hands to create a human chain around it.

No such form of support has yet been shown for Liverpool’s new Ferry Terminal nearby at the Pier Head.

Merseytravel’s three-storey waterfront building – which houses a ferry terminal on the ground floor, a Beatles’ museum on the second and a restaurant on the roof – has also caused some to dislike its existence and with some passion.

Designed by Belfast-based Hamilton Architects, the building sits in a UNESCO world heritage site opposite the city’s Three Graces and cost in the region of £9.5m and £10.5m to design and construct.

Nominating the building into the Carbuncle Cup is a David Swift, who said it was “bad enough in isolation but alongside the classic listed buildings it sticks out like a sore thumb.”

LPT added: “The World Heritage Site has been despoiled, in such a way that it is akin to giving a pretty girl a black eye.”

Strong words indeed. So what do I think? Out of the ten included in the BD ‘longlist’ I do not think either is the worst. The collector of this prize should be the University of Nottingham Jubilee Campus by architects Make. What were they thinking? It’s like a slab of bad cheese.

But prizes, awards, competitions, whatever you want to call them, are something I take very lightly. I sometimes wonder if there is an award for the ‘best award ceremony’ because there are that many of them.

The winner of the Carbuncle Cup is being decided by, BD says on its website, “a panel of expert judges”.

An announcement will be made later in the month.

The full Carbuncle Cup 2009 ‘longlist’ includes:

One Park West

Architect: Pelli Clarke Pelli
Location: Chavasse Park, Liverpool
Completed: 2008

Hotel Missoni

Architect: Allan Murray Architects
Location: Edinburgh
Completed: 2009

Westfield Shopping Centre

Architect: Westfield in-house team
Location: Shepherd’s Bush, London
Completed: 2009

University of Nottingham Jubilee Campus

Architect: Make
Location: Nottingham
Completed: 2009

Poundbury Fire Station

Design inspired by: Prince Charles
Location: Poundbury, Dorset
Completed: 2009

Liverpool Ferry Terminal

Architect: Hamilton Architects
Location: Liverpool Pier Head
Completed: 2008

Queen Margaret University campus

Architect: Dyer Associates
Location: East Lothian, Scotland
Completed: 2008

Shrewsbury Theatre Severn

Architect: Austin Smith Lord
Location: Frankwell Quay, Shrewsbury
Completed: 2009

Woodlands Manor mixed-use block

Architect: Coogan and Co
Location: Belfast
Completed: 2009

Union Plaza

Architect: Halliday Fraser Munro
Location: Aberdeen
Completed: 2008

Top Gear presenter James May was filming in Liverpool (photo: Dave Evans)

Top Gear presenter James May was filming in Liverpool (photo: Dave Evans)

Heads were turned in Liverpool this weekend when television personality James May was in town building a bridge at the Pier Head made out of the popular toy kit – Meccano.

The long-haired Top Gear presenter was joined by student engineers from the University of Liverpool, near the famous Liver Building, to help him construct a Meccano bridge to span the new Leeds-Liverpool canal extension, which runs from Liverpool’s Albert Dock.

Using 100,000 pieces of real Meccano and taking 1,100 hours to build, the bridge moved with a nine metre beam sliding into place like a canal lock gate and a 12 metre section dropping like a drawbridge.

The whole experiment was being filmed for the new BBC 2 series ‘James May’s Toy Stories’ due to be screened in the autumn this year, which involves May making life-size constructions out of popular toys.

For instance, he has created a Plasticine garden at the Chelsea Flower Show and also built a house made out of Lego, which he lived in for a couple of days.

The construction of the Liverpool Meccano bridge – which May completed a dare devil walk across on Saturday afternoon – was also helped by the involvement of the North East Meccano Guild.

Hayden Nuttal, design director of Atkins Structural Engineering, engineered the bridge design which is made out of real, half inch-wide Meccano strips, girders and bolts, rather than giant Meccano.

The total length of Meccano used in the bridge, if laid end-to-end, would stretch about three-and-a-half miles.

Liverpool was home to Meccano before its Wavertree factory, located in Binns Road, closed in 1979.

Football has surfaced its ugly head again this week. Just days into the transfer window and three, well nearly three, transfers have already taken place and reaction to them has been about one thing. Money. The drug of the sport.

The transfers of Gareth Barry, Kaka, and now Cristiano Ronaldo can be argued as being just another addition to professional football’s obsession with the Pound, Euro and Dollar.

The game is continuing to be a law unto itself with Manchester United agreeing a world-record fee of £80million, for one of its biggest assets both on and off the pitch, during a bleak global recession.

The reality of this figure surfaces when considering an entire first team squad from the bottom end of the Premier League can scarily be bought with millions left over. With an extra £20million, Newcastle United FC could be bought entirely – putting a whole new meaning on the phrase “no player is worth more than a club”.

It begs the question: when will these monopoly priced transfer fees end? Michel Platini, president of UEFA, has reportedly blasted Real Madrid over its likely excessive transfer deal, but will it really be the final straw? Can the paying supporter hope for a level economic playing field which will allow their club a fair crack of the transfer window? Unlikely.

It doesn’t even seem to concern Real president Florentino Perez, who is sticking to his word of doing “everything possible” to bring the 24-year-old Portuguese winger to the Bernabeu.

And what about the sportsmen themselves? They surely get a say on matters. Are we that naïve enough to think these transfers are out of their control? No, didn’t think so.

Following Manchester City’s failed attempt at signing the 27-year-old Kaka, despite being the richest club in world football, which would have netted the player reported wages of £13.6million a year, Real secured his signature for a then world-record £56million fee.

Brazil’s football playmaker Kaka not only told us he belonged to Jesus during the January window – he may still feel that way and I’m not doubting his beliefs – but he completely fooled us all in believing he belonged to AC Milan forever.

The collapse of the Man City deal was applauded by some as it ridiculed a salary package of unimaginable figures and showed it would take more than money to guarantee Kaka’s services. So none of us can now argue against the La Liga giants making Kaka only the second best-paid player in the world with £200,000 a week over the six years of his contract – a total of more than £62million. Can we?

Tenth-placed Premier League side Man City did, however, sign last season’s Aston Villa captain Gareth Barry, who publicly desired Champions League football a year ago, for a ‘bargain’ £12million. Barry said his move to the Eastlands club, worth a reported £100,000 a week, was to do with Man City’s “ambition” as the main reason why he left the club he had served for twelve years.

Cristiano Ronaldo’s loyalty to Manchester United looks to have finally come to an end also. As early as May this year he was telling a Sky Sports reporter to stop asking “stupid” questions about whether he would be playing for Man U in 2009/2010 because “I want to stay here”. And what part does Sir Alex Ferguson play in this possible new world-record fee after he made a comment last December he would not “sell that mob a virus”, when referring to dealings with Real Madrid?

Will Ronaldo be missed if the deal goes through by the target date of 30 June? Of course, Man U supporters will miss him. His 123 goals in 323 appearances helped the club sustain continued success and not many other members of their squad could achieve 42-goals in one season, possibly not even 18-goals he amassed last season. He will be missed by the Old Trafford faithful and through their tears they will cling on little hope the Real deal does collapse. And if that does happen, Ronaldo would be due a £20million compensation fee it’s been suggested. But I doubt it will happen. He’s just a medical and few details away from realising his, to quote him, “dream move”.

The current World and European Player of the Year is leaving Man U for one reason only. Money. It’s £80million! The club are going to pocket an incredible profit on the £12million fee they paid when they signed him from Sporting Lisbon in 2003 and who could blame the club with debts totalling nearly £700million?  And when have you ever known a footballer in his prime leave a club for less cash in their pocket? No, me neither. Ronaldo is reportedly going to pocket £107million over the six years of his Real contract, which will make him the highest paid player in world football.

How Sir Alex and Man U spend the £80million will in time prove why this world-record transfer bid has been accepted.

As for the future of Cristiano Ronaldo? Good riddance. And I’m not saying that because of my passion for Liverpool FC. And I am not saying it because more financial muscle can be gained on Anfield’s debt-ridden owners. It’s because Ronaldo has, for a long time, been a disease to the Premier League and represents everything negative about it. I just can not feel any admiration for him. Ever since he was caught on television cameras winking to the Portugal bench, immediately after his club team-mate Wayne Rooney was sent off, during his country’s 2006 World Cup clash against England, Ronaldo has persistently been booked for diving, has thrown tantrums, and shown no respect to others. He’s a bad loser, a poser, a faker and obsessed with only one thing: Cristiano Ronaldo. Adiós!

Doddy tickled with his honorary bronze statue at Liverpool Lime Street train station

Doddy tickled with his honorary bronze statue at Liverpool Lime Street train station

Liverpool comedian Ken Dodd officially unveiled a bronze statue of himself created by local sculptor Tom Murphy at his city’s Lime Street train station.

The 81-year-old has been bringing laughter to people for many years since he made his professional debut at the now demolished Nottingham Empire 54 years ago.

Speaking in the concourse of the city train station where his honorary bronze statue stands, Dodd couldn’t help joking about it. He said: “I am very honoured and privileged. Happiness for me is arriving in Liverpool. It means I am coming home to the greatest city in the world.

“There was a waxwork statue of me in Madame Tussauds but I think they melted it down to make Leonardo DiCaprio.”

Knotty Ash-born Dodd is famous for his fast and rapid delivery of one-liners, but equally for carrying around his feather duster or – as he’d say – his “tickling stick”.

Controversy surrounded the comedian during the late 1980s and early 1990s when he was charged with income tax evasion, before he was acquitted three months later with the help of Blackpool-born lawyer George Carmen. Cufflinks showing scales of justice have been included on Murphy’s bronze statue to recall this difficult period in Dodd’s life.

Dodd is as famous for the length of his shows as much as the jokes he tells. During the earlier part of his career, he once told 1,500 jokes in three and a half hours in front of a rotating audience observing the spectacle in shifts.

More recently, Dodd has performed in front of Royal Family members at the 2006 Royal Variety Performance, where he reprised some of his most-known jokes, including ones about tax accountants as well as singing his renowned song ‘Happiness’.

This latest acknowledgment from his home city will be added to the honorary fellowship Dodd received from Liverpool John Moores University in 1997.

Neil Scales, chief executive and director general of Merseytravel which commissioned sculptor Murphy as part of its public art strategy, added: “Ken is a great ambassador for Liverpool who has helped millions of people by bringing laughter into their lives – and long may he continue to do so.”

Dodd’s statue, seen carrying an overnight bag and brandishing the famous feather duster, is part of a piece of public art known as ‘Chance Meeting’.

The self-proclaimed ‘Squire of Knotty Ash’ would often meet Labour MP Bessie Braddock, nicknamed ‘Battling Bessie’, at Lime Street on route to the London Palladium while she went to parliament.

As part of the commission, Murphy has also created a bronze statue of Braddock and the two Liverpool legends have been reunited as art work on the site of the former Virgin Trains welcome lounge at the station.

Braddock, who died in 1970, was an outspoken MP for the Liverpool Exchange constituency for 24 years and campaigned fiercely for the poor. She was often at Dodd’s shows and would bring the Prime Minister at the time, Harold Wilson, and his wife Mary along with her to watch the comedian perform at the Palladium.

Her bronze statue has her holding a handbag in one hand and an egg in the other, a recognition to her being the politician responsible for putting the lion print on eggs to show they were British standard quality.

At a ceremony held at 11am her cousin Rev Bill Letheren joined Doddy for the unveiling attended also by Murphy.

The artwork has taken the sculptor a year to complete and is part of Merseytravel’s capital investment programme, which funded around £2.5million towards a range of improvements to the inside of Lime Street station.

Murphy has previously been commissioned for other famous Liverpool icons including the 7ft bronze statue of John Lennon at Liverpool John Lennon Airport, when the airport was officially named after the former Beatle member in 2002. He also created bronze statues of football figures Dixie Dean of Everton FC in 2001 and Bill Shankly of Liverpool FC in 1997, both of which are located outside their club’s stadiums in the city.

A campaign has now been launched for Ken Dodd, who was also given a replica of his statue, to receive a Knighthood.

Dodd appears at the Palace Theatre in Manchester on Saturday 13 June and Blackpool’s Grand Theatre on Sunday 14 June.

Liverpool’s Town Hall flag at half mast today at 3.06pm today, picture by Dave Evans

Liverpool’s Town Hall flag at half mast at 3.06pm today, picture by Dave Evans

At precisely the same time the football match in Sheffield was abandoned 20 years ago to the day; three cites united to remember the lives of 96 innocent fans who tragically died at Hillsborough stadium.

At 3.06pm today people paid their respects to those Liverpool supporters crushed to death in the Leppings Lane end on 15 April 1989.

Around the city of Liverpool the whole transport network – the buses, ferries, and trains – came to a standstill and even those shopping on this Easter week stopped in their tracks and stayed silent for two impeccably observed minutes.

In Nottingham, the city whose football team Forrest were Liverpool’s FA Cup semi-final opponents in Sheffield back then, around 2,000 people gathered to observe a silent respect. And in Sheffield a further 300 or so people attended a brief memorial at Hillsborough, the home to its football team Sheffield Wednesday.

But it did not surprise me one bit the Hillsborough memorial service, held each year at Anfield – home to Liverpool FC, had its biggest attendance today.

I’m sure if they could, the close to 30,000 people in the famous ground would have attended each year, but this particular year had the added incentive it is 20 years since the disaster – two decades and a lifetime on.

When nearly all present joined in a chant and heart felt voice of “Justice for the 96” it also demonstrated, not only to the current Culture Secretary Andy Burnham but the whole country, many still believe strongly these supporters, daughters, sons, and fathers killed on the day have still not been treated fairly.

Their voice was further heard through Mr Trevor Hicks, who lost both his daughters at Hillsborough, and Lord Mayor of Liverpool Cllr Steve Rotheram, who was – as most inside Anfield today – present in Sheffield that day.

Singing by the church choir of St Anne Stanley and Liverpool Singing Choir as well as Lee Roy James, who sang the poignant ‘Hillsborough Anthem’, captured the mood perfectly.

The service closed with Gerry Marsden and everyone in attendance joining together in a moving and spine tingling rendition of ‘You’ll Never Walk Alone’.

Not only was this day a day to be remembered, but also there are 96 reasons for it not to be forgotten.

Hannah Healy, who hopes to travel to Zambia, takes aim at a clay pigeon fund raising event at Raby House Farm in Willaston (picture taken by Don Moss)

Hannah Healy, who hopes to travel to Zambia, takes aim at a clay pigeon fund raising event at Raby House Farm in Willaston (picture taken by Don Moss)

A young Wirral woman is raising money by organising activity days to help support her visit to Zambia where she will assist local tribesmen in building affordable homes for their families.

Hannah Healy, from Prenton, together with a team of ten of her friends are raising funds through Habitat for Humanity Charitable Trust to travel to Zambia for two weeks at the end of July to help build a house for an African family.

In the last 18 months, the 29-year-old and her friends have organised fund raising events including bag packing at supermarkets, cake sales, raffles, sponsored walks and clay pigeon shooting.

She said they are £2,000 short of their target of £17,600 and each has to raise £1,600.

Hannah, who works as a programmes officer for the Regeneration Business Policy & Programmes department at Liverpool City Council, commented: “We have planned the trip to Zambia through the charity Habitat for Humanity to assist local tribesmen build affordable and decent homes for their families.”

She added: “Habitat for Humanity is supporting the building of homes in many countries, using local labour supported by groups willing to give up some time to assist in house building in a community setting.  The homes are constructed of brick walls and corrugated roof, with materials costing several hundred pounds.”

Hannah said she is prepared to live in the cramped conditions – a world apart from her own three bedroom semi-detached property in Wirral – whilst visiting and will be staying in a 500 sq ft empty cement property. She will also get in involved in all aspects of the community including visits to the local church.

Hannah is particularly looking forward to meeting the local children, who – she is told – play day and night and make homemade jump rope with corn husks, play jacks with rocks, and use the dirt to spell their name to visiting volunteers.

In the last organised event, she and her friends put their target practice skills to the test at a day’s clay pigeon shooting at Raby House Farm in Willaston.

“The event was split into two, with a morning session and an afternoon session and approximately 80 people in total attended,” she said.

Laughing when asked if there were any competitors amongst the group, Hannah explained: “There was no competition as such, but everybody was given a score card to identify if they had a hit or a miss.

“There were five stations in total and people were told to have five shots at three stations. I did a lot better than I thought I would put it that way!

“I sold a total of 36 tickets on the day, which amounted to £720.”

If enough funds are raised, Hannah will be travelling and staying in the village of Palabana, which is about 25 miles south east of Lusaka in Zambia, from 31 July this year.

Habitat for Humanity was founded by Millard Fuller, who died in February this year.

The above was given further publicity in Wirral Globe

To find out more about the charity and the work it does, please visit www.habitatforhumanity.co.uk

(L-R) Lord Mayor Cllr Steve Rotheram, Liverpool FC manager Rafael Benitez, and musician John Power with family members at the launch of the anniversary single at The Picket, Liverpool (picture taken by Dave Evans)

(L-R) Lord Mayor Cllr Steve Rotheram, Liverpool FC manager Rafael Benitez, and musician John Power with family members at the launch of the anniversary single at The Picket, Liverpool (picture taken by Dave Evans)

Twenty years ago a terrible tragedy occurred in Sheffield at a football match when I was just embracing what the great Brazilian footballer Pelé described as the ‘beautiful game’.

At the time, I had become to be – like most young boys – obsessed with everything about the game and especially Liverpool Football Club.

Football, though, was and is accessible to everyone.

However, on 15 April 1989 at Hillsborough stadium the game changed through a horrendous and terribly disastrous set of consequences. And justice is still being fought amongst families of 96 supporters of Liverpool Football Club, who were crushed to death in the Leppings Lane end of Hillsborough, whilst in attendance at an FA Cup semi-final between Kenny Dalglish’s Liverpool and Brian Clough’s Nottingham Forrest.

Football almost, many would agree, ended on this afternoon at 15:06 hours for good. In this moment of calamity, most LFC supporters, who were not in attendance at the ground, remember and still remember exactly where they were at the time. Even supporters of other clubs may remember where they were too.

Questions over Police control, newspaper coverage, the design of the stadium belonging to Sheffield Wednesday FC and even the behaviour of LFC supporters remain today and will forever about what happened on 15.04.1989 but more significantly about why it happened.

Fences constructed in front of supporters were removed and many of the top stadiums converted into all-seater as a result of Lord Peter Taylor’s report into the disaster.

In 2003 I interviewed former Liverpool striker John Aldridge, who was a player for Liverpool at the time, and he confirmed the Hillsborough disaster had caused him to think about ending his career. Football – a game he loved and lived for – had died for him. What he went through is something he can never really describe.

Despite going on to lift and win the FA Cup, and scoring in the final, he felt he was never the same player for the club after the disaster. He consequently left his much loved Liverpool Football Club later in the year to resurrect his hunger and love of the game in Spain. 

Just short of two years later, in 1991, arguably the greatest Liverpool footballer to ever wear the club’s shirt, Kenny Dalglish, who was managing the club at the time, headed for the exit door. And when it was stated he left due to health reasons it made most Reds suggest the aftermath of the Hillsborough disaster must have had some contribution to this.

These two legends of the club, however, will be the first to say what they went through is absolutely nothing compared to those families who stayed waiting for their loved ones to return home from this football match. Football no longer was a recreation people could enjoy. For a large majority of them it never will be.

This is why Dalglish and Aldridge continue doing whatever they can to help ease this sense of loss and why their support has helped bring the Hillsborough disaster back into the headlines.

Together with former LFC stars Howard Gayle, Phil Thompson, Bruce Grobbelaar and Alan Kennedy, they’ve come together to make a magnificent contribution to a new single in aid of the Hillsborough Family Support Group.

Using the musical talents of artists John Power, of the La’s and Cast, Nick Kilroe of Echo and the Bunneymen, Peter Hooton of The Farm, James Walsh of Starsailor, and Rob Taylor of Troubadours, all have united to record ‘Fields of Anfield Road’.

The song is based on the Irish ballad ‘Fields of Athenry’ and is a new version of the one the Kop sing every LFC home game – created, a very reliable source told me, by normal supporter Gary Ferguson from Huyton.

Elvis Costello, Pete Wylie and James Walsh have contributed appropriate B-sides to this single, titled Liverpool Collective – featuring The Kop Choir, which is available to download on 6 April.

Philip Hayes, director of The Picket Liverpool, held an official launch of the single and said: “Kevin McManus and I were asked by the Lord Mayor of Liverpool, Cllr Steve Rotheram, to put together an appropriate musical tribute to commemorate the 20th anniversary of the Hillsborough disaster. Kevin McManus, from Merseyside ACME, is joint project co-ordinator.

Cllr Steve Rotheram, who originally came up with the idea, added: “Everybody can instantly recall the precise moment they heard the news from Hillsborough. The memories of the events of the 15 April 1989 are as vivid today as they were 20 years ago and the launch of this CD is simply an attempt to commemorate the men, women and children who didn’t return home from that FA Cup semi-final in Sheffield . We will never forget the 96.

One man, a Spaniard, who finished a memorable few weeks by committing his future to the club for a further five years, attended its launch and gave his frank and honest opinion on the single.

The current Liverpool FC manager, Rafael Benitez, said: “I think you can feel the emotion in every single game, what it means to the fans. It is a very good song and Liverpool fans sing it better than anyone.”

Even if you buy it and never listen to this song, supporters of Liverpool Football Club will, I am sure, be eternally grateful to those of you who remembered these 96 people like you and me.

And any true supporter of LFC does not need telling what they should do next.

*For more information and details on how to get your hands on this anniversary single visit www.fieldsofanfieldroad.co.uk