RIP Chris & Kev, Never Forgotten

05 Apr 2021 07:10 am, by YorkshireSquare

Twenty-one years ago, two lads went to a football match and never came home. I never met Kevin Speight or Christopher Loftus but we shared a love, a love of Leeds United football club, and that’s a pretty strong bond. What should have been an exciting evening for Leeds United fans in Taksim Square as the club prepared to play in a Uefa Cup semi-final, their first European semi-final for 25 years, turned into one of tragedy in the blink of an eye. Like every Leeds fan it hit me hard, the loss of two of our brothers, it made the game the next evening seem unimportant given the tragedy of that Wednesday night.

Despite that all that had gone on the previous evening the match went ahead with no one minutes silence in respect of the deaths, and no black armbands worn by the home team. As the Leeds players went into a team huddle, the Leeds supporters turned their backs and held their own one minutes silence. The Leeds players had emerged into the cauldron, protected by large shields carried by the many riot police, clearly intimidated by the events and went in at half-time two goals in arrears. But while they improved somewhat in the second half with Bridges, Kewell and McPhail all going close, somehow the result did not seem important.

Chris and Kev’s memories have been treated appallingly by the authorities, from the lack of a minutes silence, the lies spread about them in the aftermath and the lack of any justice for their families. Chris and Kev travelled to Istanbul to support their team and have a good time but were slaughtered by men intent on violence and death. I know from my own experience how a drink out the evening before a game can turn to violence in a split second. Their memory should not be tainted by the lies spread about Leeds fans behaviour to justify the Turkish authorities appalling response to the tragedy. What is certain is that we will never forget them, and we will never let the world forget them.

For the second year in a row we cannot raise a drink to their memory in the Peacock, we cannot stand as one in silence on the terraces of Elland Road but we can remember them. Liam Cooper, Stuart Dallas and Luke Ayling laying flowers at their memorial, Leeds fans and friends tributes outside the ground and the banners inside for the Sheffield United game show they will always be remembered. RIP Chris and Kev #NeverForgotten