Memorial chair to be unveiled on Spion Kop Mountain in South Africa for Hillsborough’s 97th victim, Andrew Devine
1 month ago
A specially-designed chair in memory of the 97th Hillsborough victim Andrew Devine is to be unveiled in South Africa.
It will take pride of place next to a bench already dedicated to the other 96 who lost their lives in the 1989 tragedy.
Sioux Gijzen, who is raising money for the chair, says: “In 2010 a handful of South African LFC supporters funded a memorial bench in honour of the 96 victims of the Hillsborough Disaster and it stands permanently at Spion Kop Lodge in KwaZulu-Natal in South Africa.
“A bench was seen as fitting because of all stadiums in the UK becoming seated-only after the disaster.
“A plaque above the bench lists the 96 names and the bench has 96 slats, one for each of the supporters who died; as well as two eternal flames, one for Hillsborough and one in memory of those who lost their lives in the Heysel disaster.”
Sioux goes on: “In honour of Andrew Devine, the 97th victim of Hillsborough who passed away in 2021 – 32 years after suffering horrendous injuries at the FA Cup Semi Final against Nottingham Forest in Sheffield – a single-seater chair has been designed to match the bench as closely as possible, and a plaque bearing his name will be hung above the chair.”
The chair will be unveiled on April 15, the 34th anniversary of Hillsborough, and Sioux says: “The relevance of the site, of course, is that it was the Spion Kop Mountain that gave its name to the popular Anfield stand.”
Spioenkop – or directly translated Spy Hill – is a small mountain near the Tugela River, a few miles south-west of Ladysmith, in the KwaZulu-Natal Province. During the Boer War in 1900 it was the scene of victory over the British. More than 300 men died, many of them from Liverpool, as the British army attempted to capture the strategic hilltop.
When Liverpool FC was building their new stand of cinder and brick in 1906, a local sports editor named Ernest Edwards noted it looked similar to the battlefield where many local men had died, and so it was named the Spion Kop. “Aka The Kop,” smiles Sioux.
“The connection between that battle and Hillsborough is the loss of life through bad planning, massive errors in judgement and ineptitude of those in charge,” says Sioux, a native South African who now lives in Wales near the Brecon Beacons.
“A group of us Liverpool fans started to hold a memorial service there each year from 2007, following the same programme as the one at Anfield, reading out the names, singing You’ll Never Walk Alone and having a piper, Dave Walters, playing the Fields of Anfield Road.
“We went back every year until 2016, stopping the same time the club did.
“Doing that and dedicating the bench – and now the chair – means a hell of a lot. What happened at Hillsborough shouldn’t have happened and I firmly believe it should never be allowed to be forgotten.
“Families know we remember those who died, even though we didn’t know them, and that’s important too.”
Sioux is aiming to raise R30,000 (South African Rand) – about £1,385 – to fund the chair, as well as the maintenance and upkeep of both the bench and the chair.
“I’m appealing to Liverpool FC fans all over the world to contribute, ensuring that the memory of the 97 lives will live on worldwide,” she says, “and ensuring that the families of the 97 know that Liverpool families never walk alone.”
Sioux has started an Instagram blog to chart the progress of the chair memorial – @remembering_the_97
Anyone wishing to donate money can go to the website HERE.
Anyone who wants to attend the unveiling can contact Spion Kop Lodge directly on https://www.spionkop.co.za