Amongst the acres of gushing news print about Liverpool FC and their supporters this week, as the 25th anniversary of the Hillsborough disaster was marked, there was also a very familar story.
A group of Manchester City fans were 'shocked' and 'shaken' after their minibus was attacked by Liverpool fans throwing bricks and stones before yesterday's Premiership match. Shaken I can understand (amongst those on the bus was a 70 year old woman) but if anyone on that minibus had attended a game at Anfield in the 1970s or 1980s, they surely cannot have been shocked. Such actions were the norm. Colin Ward's classic book on football hooliganism 'Steaming In' probably sets out the best written account of the experiences of visiting fans to Merseyside in those years. It was a grim fight for survival - in an era where all the media wanted to write about was the sporting nature of the Kop, Scouse humour, the wisdom of the boot room and the stylish play of the team on the pitch.
The crimes of Kelvin Mackenzie and The Sun after Hillsborough, and the principled campaigning by Liverpudlians since, has had the positive effect of reversing a great historical wrong. But it also means that for most sports journalists Liverpool's fans again occupy a space next to Mother Theresa, Princess Diana and Douglas Bader. But reality has a horrible way of intruding into even the most naive of mindsets.
The same violence will almost certainly happen when Chelsea play at Anfield on April 27th in the likely Premiership decider. Whether it is addressed in the national media, or by the authorities, is another matter entirely.