I’ll be going to Turf Moor on Sunday. Maybe you’re going too. Or your brother, your daughter, your best mate? Imagine if we never came back. Ninety-seven of us. Ninety-seven sets of parents, of siblings, of friends, unimaginable loss rippling out across a whole community and beyond. Not to mention the thousands who went to watch a game of football and instead watched their fellow supporters die among them. It would be a collective trauma that the club, the city – you – would never be able to put behind you.

Imagine you discovered that proven incompetence on the part of the authorities killed your child, killed your friend. That to hide their culpability, those same authorities and their establishment accomplices instigated a cover up, fed lies to the media that were printed and circulated as truth for years, blaming your loved ones instead. Knowingly falsifying witness statements and laying the blame for those deaths in the hands of their fellow fans.

Only that collective trauma, that collective injustice is an appropriate starting-point from which to begin to try and understand the apparent “disrespect” shown by Liverpool fans at last weekend’s Cup Final. Even in a modern state as decrepit and constitutionally incontinent as ours, respect has to be earned.

For all I know, William Saxe-Coburg Gotha might be a terribly nice chap manfully performing a duty he didn’t choose for himself, but he wasn’t shaking hands on the pitch as FA President because of any personal qualities or merit. He was serving an institutional role of inherited and unquestioned privilege, as inherently ridiculous as his father’s guest appearance earlier in the week, paying lip service to the cost of living on a gold throne in front of the largest unelected chamber outside Communist China.

And when the Prime Minister of that same country – a fellow old boy, let us not forget, of the school attended by his royal highness – is on record repeating in print the very same lies circulated about Hillsborough, you might justifiably come to the conclusion that the Establishment is a single unit worthy of your complete contempt. In case you need reminding, Johnson’s 2004 piece in The Spectator described the police as a “convenient scapegoat for the Hillsborough tragedy” and apportioned blame to “drunken fans” who “fought their way into the ground”, fifteen years after the police supplied that fiction to the Sun and long after it had been discredited.

Perhaps the least surprising aspect of the episode is the confected outrage in newspapers and from Downing Street at what is scarcely a new phenomenon – the Mail on Sunday’s reverence for the monarchy did not apparently prevent it from exploiting Andrew Morton’s latest tittle-tattle “book” on the very same front page, I notice. The freedom of speech happily extended by the Home Secretary to racists who booed the taking of the knee clearly only extends so far. For those who think politics and football are separate, it’s worth reflecting on how football is shot through with same social inequalities as the country more widely. How else to explain MPs’ deafening silence when it comes to chants that mock poverty? Now there’s disrespect.

Of course, there are plenty of other good reasons to boo the national anthem, not least the fact that it’s an irredeemably tuneless dirge. If you’re going to go in for that kind of thing, then at least do it with the style and flair of the Marseillaise. After all, there’s nothing inherently wrong with collective identity and the symbols that promote it. Come to think of it, that’s a fairly persuasive definition of football fandom and it associated rituals. But we can hardly be surprised if the kind of identity preferred by fans in northern British cities is local, civic, or regional, rather than national.

The footballing fates of Newcastle and Liverpool might have diverged diametrically since that day in May 1974 when the two teams strode out at Wembley having won the same number of major domestic honours, but the fates of the two cities and their people retain a startling amount of common ground. Sea-faring cities ravaged by post-industrial decline and Thatcherite economics, starved of investment and central government interest, and yet characterised by self-deprecating warmth, their collective energy is stored in powerful myths of identity that also drive the imagined community of their extended diasporas.

And, of course, nowhere is that identity more strongly expressed than in the two football clubs. From Bob Paisley and Kevin Keegan to Terry McDermott and Rafa Benítez there are plenty who have felt that common energy and come to embody it as adopted sons of the two cities. Flip the same idea on its head, and the recent BBC documentary Gazza shows all too clearly what happens when a young man is uprooted from that place of identity by a country tilted irrevocably to its south-east corner, a victim of structural economic conditions as much as personal weakness.

For a whole generation aged thirty-five or under, the events in Sheffield on 15 April 1989 exist now only as increasingly distant history, something to be encountered at several stages removed, if at all. For those older, the opposite problem exists, a familiarity that has robbed Hillsborough of the power to express its unspeakable horror.

It’s not a coincidence that greater respect is granted to the royal family than football fans from a proud northern city who have been victims of institutional killing. It’s not a coincidence that justice has again been denied those football fans just when it seemed that the momentum of truth had become unstoppable. And it’s not a coincidence that the country’s Prime Minister is actively complicit in the systemic web of injustice woven around the events of Hillsborough.

Next time you come home from the match, remember that it could have been us. Remember where real respect is owed.

Matthew Philpotts @mjp19731