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More calls for calm ahead of Anfield encounter between Liverpool and Manchester United

Updated: Saturday, 22 Sep 2012 10:46 | Comments

Alex Ferguson has played a major role in attempting to quell the hatred of a small minority of the Manchester United fanbase
Alex Ferguson has played a major role in attempting to quell the hatred of a small minority of the Manchester United fanbase

Plans by Liverpool and Manchester United to calm the hatred between their supporters have been welcomed by the chair of the Hillsborough Family Support Group, Margaret Aspinall.

Ahead of tomorrow`s meeting between the two at Anfield, a number of gestures are to be made to try and prevent the fans present from taunting each other about tragedies that have happened in the past, while United manager Alex Ferguson has written to his supporters to encourage peace.

The game will be Liverpool`s first at home since the publication of the Hillsborough Independent Panel`s report into the 1989 disaster which claimed the lives of 96 of their supporters, exonerating them of blame in the process.

But despite the sensitive nature of the subject, it has not always been off-limits when it comes to terrace songs, nor has the Munich air disaster which claimed the lives of 23 passengers on board a Manchester United team plane in 1958.

A fierce rivalry between the two clubs has long existed but has occasionally overstepped the mark when it comes to respecting the dead and, ahead of tomorrow’s game, both have asked their supporters to put an end to unsavoury incidents.

And Mrs Aspinall, who lost her 18-year-old son James at Hillsborough, has backed that, telling the Daily Mail: "I just don’t understand anyone chanting obscenities over a disaster. It’s incredible to believe it’s coming from human beings.

"Remember these were young kids at Hillsborough and young players at Munich. To chant about it is a disgrace to society. They`re not hurting the people who died; it`s too late for them. They`re hurting the relatives. How dare they chant about it.

"I can speak for James. He did nothing wrong that day. He was in the ground by 1.20pm. He was just 18 and he was going to his first away game. He came home to me five days later in a coffin."

Safety levels at sporting stadia were overhauled on the back of Hillsborough and Aspinall has urged those at Anfield tomorrow who may be thinking of chanting, to remember who is responsible for the state of the environment in which they now watch their team play.

She added: "They don`t have a right to sit in a seat that 96 people died for and go home in safety when 96 people didn`t. When they go into all-seater stadiums, do they ask themselves why that is? Because those people were crushed to death and that`s their legacy.

"They give Manchester United and Liverpool supporters a bad name because most supporters aren`t like that. I don`t feel angry because they`re morons. Sad people."

Aspinall`s words have been echoed by two-time Liverpool manager and iconic player Kenny Dalglish.

The Scot was in charge of the Reds when Hillsborough occurred and also last season, when he resumed his own notorious rivalry with Ferguson.

He has praised his old foe for standing by Liverpool throughout the crisis, though, writing in the Daily Mirror: "When the disaster happened, Sir Alex was straight on the phone to offer help in any way he could.

"Some love him, some hate him, but when something terrible happens, like Hillsborough, Alex is one of the first asking what he can do."

On the subject of chants, Dalglish added: "The people you are trying to control are by far in the minority. I don`t even think they merit the publicity for what they do, which is offensive and ignorant."

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