Joey Barton ‘can’t bear’ Hillsborough – but says he loves Sheffield Wednesday as a club

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Bristol Rovers manager, Joey Barton, says that he’s not looking forward to visiting Hillsborough when his side face Sheffield Wednesday this week.

Barton was just a youngster when the tragic Hillsborough disaster took place in 1989, but being born and bred in Merseyside it was something that affected the community as a whole as 97 sadly lost their lives as a result of the events during the FA Cup semifinal between Liverpool and Nottingham Forest.

The Rovers boss has been vocal in the past on the Hillsborough topic, throwing his weight behind the cause in the fight for justice, and he has explained that – as much as he likes the Owls as a football team – Wednesday night’s trip is not one that he’s relishing.

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Speaking to the media ahead of the game, Barton admitted “I can’t bear the stadium, obviously you can imagine from Liverpool in 1989. It gives me a really bad feel whenever I go anywhere in it. You can’t help but feel affected by that. I know Sheffield is a fantastic footy city and I love Sheffield Wednesday as a club, they’re massive underachievers because they’re a huge club. When I was a kid I remember them being in FA Cup finals and them always being in the Premier League.

“It is a great city Sheffield. Two really good football clubs. We’ll go to the memorial and we’ll put some flowers down to pay our respects. Hopefully we can turn in a big performance but yeah, it is one of the few stadiums that I would just rather not visit. When you walk down the Leppings Lane End it’s just eerie because it’s the scene of a crime.”

Barton only played at Hillsborough twice as a player, losing once with Queens Park Rangers in 2013/14 and then drawing with Burnley in 2015/16. This week’s game will be his first visit to Sheffield as a manager.

Rovers are in a good run of form at the moment with five wins from their last seven in all competitions, and their manager will be hoping that they can extend their unbeaten run on what will no doubt be an emotional evening for him.