“Sport is important because it’s not important” is the opening sentence in an article* on the sportsmen who died in the first world war. The “Footballers’ Battalion”, made up largely of professional and amateur players, lost more than 1,000 men during the war. They and many others will be remembered during this year that marks the 100th anniversary of the war to end all wars, which unfortunately didn’t end them.
Remembering is important for those who grieve; that was evident at Anfield yesterday as more than 24,000 people attended the remembrance service for the 96 who died at Hillsborough. For 25 years their families and their city have grieved for the lives lost and the reputations damaged. At long last, something is being done about their reputations as a new inquest is being held to reveal what happened.
I am fortunate in that I only have less important things to worry about, such as the possibility of relegation. We all need unimportant things in our lives, especially when important things are going badly. I went through a time, years ago, when worries about the failing health of my mom were a constant background to all other thoughts, whatever else I was doing— teaching, driving, shopping etc. The only time I didn’t worry about her was when I was watching Birmingham City play. Their defensive lapses and inconsistent performances required every bit of my capacity to worry so that I couldn’t worry about anything else. Watching football was one of the things that helped me hang on to my sanity.