Reflecting on the last week's occurrences has been a sobering experience for me; a week after I visited the French capital, tragedy struck. I know people who were there; I will forever count myself lucky that no one I know was hurt. A traumatising event and an awful way for a weekend to be interrupted; for me, it was also an attack on the sport which takes up so much of my life. As the news of the disruption at the game in Hanover on Tuesday filtered through the fear of never being able to feel safe at football again was almost certainly visible in my reaction. It is selfish, but I don't want my life changed by gun-toting terrorists. I continued with my plan of visiting as much football as possible. I booked more tickets and pressed on with my plans to watch Hertha Berlin play Hoffenheim on Sunday.
The best thing to come out of the attacks was the unity of the world against the attackers, a theme which continued through the footballing world. It could not be avoided when an international friendly was one of the targets in Paris (and Hanover a few days later) but the decision of the authorities to show the terrorists that they wouldn't win was brave and, in my opinion, correct. Undoubtedly there were people put off by the threats and attacks but the scenes in London were inspiring after the terrifying events at the Stade de France. The French anthem rang out, flags were waved, the two sets of fans were united and showed how peaceful and united humanity could be.
It was a proud day for football. The last week has been one of positivity and solidarity; whilst our sport is often criticised for being out of touch and corrupt, this was a moment to be proud of. French flags flew around the grounds, moments of silence were perfectly observed, armbands were worn. Solemn, respectful, defiant. This was the proof that football was still the game of the people and that the people could still have a say in whether terrorism would scare them away or not. The clear answer was no.
The security services at matches across Europe over the last two weeks deserve a lot of credit for their thorough approach and undoubtedly brave behaviour. The unsung hero of the Stade de France bomb attempt was the steward who turned the bomber away. Unarmed (as they should be), potentially unprotected (there weren't armed police at every entrance to every game) and with the public depending on them for their safety they did a great job of facing down the threats and keeping the grounds safe. More should be made of the role our security services do, both full time police and match/ gig stewards. They do an unnoticed job which occasionally saves hundreds of lives.
Having had two weeks to reflect the time felt right for us to pay our respects to the dead, pray for the injured and support the families of those that were taken. It is time for us to thank the security services that saved countless more lives and have undoubtedly crushed more plots before and since. In the future nothing will be certain, but football as we know it will survive because the people'e game will never be torn from us by those who will tear the face of society off if they can. Whoever you support, whatever country you hail from and whatever beliefs you have, show the terrorists that love and sport can overcome anything.
For us the world will return to normal in the next few weeks. For the families of the victims of Paris their lives have changed forever. Whilst our love of football will live on, the love of their lives will be buried. Rest In Peace.
Ali Haggis, Editor