October 5, 2022

Newcastle team-mates John Beresford and Rob Lee had been in a Liverpool resort room on the morning of Sunday August 31, 1997, after they switched on the tv. Diana, Princess of Wales, had been killed in a automotive crash in Paris.

The Magpies had been as a consequence of kick off at Anfield at 4pm, the one Premier League recreation scheduled for that day as a part of Sky Sports activities’ Tremendous Sunday protection. Given the earlier two conferences on Merseyside had completed 4-3 to the hosts, it was a extremely anticipated fixture.

‘There was no social media and I’m unsure all of us had cellphones,’ Beresford tells Sportsmail, 25 years on. ‘The TV was often your first contact with the skin world within the morning. I bear in mind placing it on and that was after we came upon Diana had died. I’ll always remember it. Myself and Rob had been like, “What? Actually? How can this occur?”.

‘We had been all staying on the identical flooring and the opposite lads began popping out of their rooms. We had been speaking about conspiracy theories. It didn’t add up. I bear in mind considering, “How briskly had been they going?”. You simply assume that the Princess of Wales is taken in every single place safely. We had been in shock.’

By a quirk of destiny, the golf equipment face one another on Wednesday on the anniversary of Diana’s demise. However, in 1997, the Premier League took the choice to postpone the sport at round lunchtime, not that all the gamers wished it to be. Newcastle had been on a excessive after qualifying for the Champions League in Zagreb a number of days earlier.

John Beresford was in a Liverpool hotel room on August 31, 1997 when he found out Diana, Princess of Wales, had been killed

Rob Lee was in a Liverpool hotel room on August 31, 1997 when he found out Diana, Princess of Wales, had been killed

Newcastle team-mates John Beresford and Rob Lee had been in a Liverpool resort room on August 31, 1997 after they came upon Diana had been killed

‘Trying again now, the magnitude of what had occurred and the disappointment round it, you perceive why it was referred to as off,’ says Beresford. ‘However, if I’m being trustworthy, certainly one of my preliminary ideas was, “I hope the sport continues to be on”.

‘It’s recreation day, you’re wanting ahead to it. We thought it might go forward at first, however then we had been informed our pre-match schedule wasn’t taking place and we had been getting the coach again to Newcastle.

‘You may assume that everybody was in settlement concerning the postponement, however a variety of lads had been considering, “Why? This has occurred in France. We need to play”.

‘I used to be mentally ready for the sport. I used to be the kind who could be stretching within the resort room very first thing within the morning. It’s unusual, however even going residence you need to know when it’s going to be rearranged. I’m a royalist, I used to be upset and shocked by what had occurred, however that’s simply the mentality of an expert athlete. You’re most likely caught up in {that a} bit.’

It was not till a Tuesday night time in January that the rescheduled recreation went forward, Michael Owen scoring the one aim for Liverpool. He, like Beresford, had wished to play the unique fixture.

‘I bear in mind the Sunday afternoon, strolling round Chester buying with my spouse and considering, “I want we had been taking part in”,’ Owen tells Sportsmail. ‘I all the time need to play soccer however, on the identical time, I understood that we couldn’t, given the unhappy circumstances of that day.’

Richard Keys was getting ready to host Sky’s protection of the sport when he obtained the information of Diana’s demise on the Lord Daresbury Resort in Warrington.

‘I used to be leaving the resort early within the morning to go to Anfield once I came upon,’ he says. ‘Geoff Shreeves then referred to as me to ask if I’d heard. My first thought was that the swimsuit I had deliberate to put on was not appropriate, so I referred to as by a member of the family and picked up a black one.

Michael Owen scored the only goal for Liverpool in the rescheduled game in January

Michael Owen scored the one aim for Liverpool within the rescheduled recreation in January

‘We began going via rehearsals at Anfield, however we had been going via the motions actually. What I can’t imagine, wanting again, is that it took so lengthy for the sport to be referred to as off. The information had damaged earlier than 5am. Anybody ought to have recognized we couldn’t play soccer that day.

‘Kenny (Dalglish) was supervisor of Newcastle and he was ringing me via the morning to see what we knew. Lastly, the information got here that the sport had been postponed. I perceive, from a participant’s perspective, why they could have wished to play, nevertheless it was completely the appropriate choice.’

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Sky determined to go forward with a 45-minute broadcast from the stadium, with Keys, Andy Grey and Martin Tyler within the studio.

‘We’ve got achieved video games the place floodlights have gone out and video games have been delayed, however nothing was as difficult as that,’ says Keys. ‘It was surreal. We opened with a shot of the empty Kop, saying, “This could have been full immediately”.

‘I don’t understand how we crammed the rest of the present. It was a unprecedented day, one thing you expertise solely as soon as in a lifetime, fortunately.’