Sunday 23 November 2014

Liverpool comes to a standstill as city marks 25th anniversary of Hillsborough disaster

Published 15/04/2014 | 11:34

A sombre memorial service has begun to mark 25 years since the Hillsborough disaster claimed the lives of 96 Liverpool football fans.

Loved ones of those who died have been joined at Liverpool FC's Anfield home by players, club officials and ordinary fans among the 24,000 attending to mark today's emotional anniversary.

The 96 Liverpool fans died in the crush on the Leppings Lane terraces at Sheffield Wednesday's Hillsborough stadium after going to see their team play Nottingham Forest in an FA Cup semi-final on April 15 1989.

As the families of those who did not return home took their places in reserved seats on Anfield's famous Spion Kop for the start of the service, the crowd got to their feet as one with a roar of approval and a huge ovation from all four sides of the ground.

There were also loud cheers and clapping for the gathering of past and present Anfield greats who took their seats, including current club captain Steven Gerrard, Kenny Dalglish, manager at the time of the disaster, Ian Rush, Phil Thompson, Alan Hansen and Graeme Souness.

More recent stars Jamie Carragher, Robbie Fowler and Steve McManaman were also in attendance, along with Howard Kendall, Everton's manager in 1989, and current Everton boss Roberto Martinez, who will give a reading.

A man weeps during a memorial service to mark the 25th anniversary of the Hillsborough disaster at Anfield in Liverpool, northern England April 15, 2014. REUTERS/Darren Staples   (BRITAIN - Tags: SPORT SOCCER DISASTER ANNIVERSARY)
A man weeps during a memorial service to mark the 25th anniversary of the Hillsborough disaster at Anfield
Tommy Biggadike (aged two) whose grandfather Thomas Howard died in the tragedy arrives to lay flowers ahead of the Hillsborough 25th Anniversary Memorial Service at Hillsborough, Sheffield. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Tuesday April 15, 2014. See PA story SOCCER Hillsborough. Photo credit should read: Anna Gowthorpe/PA Wire
96, made up of fans scarves, fills the centre circle before the Hillsborough 25th Anniversary Memorial Service at Anfield Stadium, Liverpool. Martin Rickett/PA Wire
Fans stand by a flag before a memorial service to mark the 25th anniversary of the Hillsborough disaster at Anfield in Liverpool
Fans lay flowers by the Shankly gates before a memorial service to mark the 25th anniversary of the Hillsborough disaster at Anfield in Liverpool
Family members of Keith McGrath lay flowers at the Hillsborough memorial at Anfield, before the Hillsborough 25th Anniversary Memorial Service. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Tuesday April 15, 2014. See PA story SOCCER Hillsborough. Photo credit should read: Martin Rickett/PA Wire
Harley Hanson (aged nine) from Sheffield places flowers ahead of the Hillsborough 25th Anniversary Memorial Service at Hillsborough, Sheffield. Anna Gowthorpe/PA Wire
A Liverpool supporter looks at the tributes ahead of the Hillsborough 25th Anniversary Memorial Service at Hillsborough, Sheffield
Men put a scarf on the Shankly gates before a memorial service to mark the 25th anniversary of the Hillsborough disaster at Anfield in Liverpool
Tommy (aged two) and his sister Millie Biggadike (aged four) whose grandfather Thomas Howard died in the tragedy look at tributes outside the Leppings Lane entrance ahead of the Hillsborough 25th Anniversary Memorial Service at Hillsborough, Sheffield. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Tuesday April 15, 2014. See PA story SOCCER Hillsborough. Photo credit should read: Anna Gowthorpe/PA Wire
A scarf is tied to the Shankly Gates at Anfield, before the Hillsborough 25th Anniversary Memorial Service. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Tuesday April 15, 2014. See PA story SOCCER Hillsborough. Photo credit should read: Martin Rickett/PA Wire
A fan ties a scarf to the Shankly Gates at Anfield, before the Hillsborough 25th Anniversary Memorial Service. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Tuesday April 15, 2014. See PA story SOCCER Hillsborough. Photo credit should read: Martin Rickett/PA Wire
Harley Hanson (aged nine) from Sheffield places flowers ahead of the Hillsborough 25th Anniversary Memorial Service at Hillsborough, Sheffield. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Tuesday April 15, 2014. See PA story SOCCER Hillsborough. Photo credit should read: Anna Gowthorpe/PA Wire
Stewards open the Shankly Gates at Anfield, before the Hillsborough 25th Anniversary Memorial Service. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Tuesday April 15, 2014. See PA story SOCCER Hillsborough. Photo credit should read: Martin Rickett/PA Wire
Stewards open the Shankly Gates at Anfield, before the Hillsborough 25th Anniversary Memorial Service. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Tuesday April 15, 2014. See PA story SOCCER Hillsborough. Photo credit should read: Martin Rickett/PA Wire
A Liverpool supporter looks at the tributes ahead of the Hillsborough 25th Anniversary Memorial Service at Hillsborough, Sheffield. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Tuesday April 15, 2014. See PA story SOCCER Hillsborough. Photo credit should read: Anna Gowthorpe/PA Wire

On the pitch, thousands of football scarves were laid out in the shape of "96", donated from fans and clubs across the UK and beyond after an appeal from Liverpool FC for scarves to show a symbol of unity across fan rivalries.

The Rev Kelvin Bolton, from the local parish of Christ Church and Holy Trinity, began the service with a welcome and introduction.

Mr Bolton said it was Easter, a time when Jesus was treated as a criminal "yet innocent in every way".

He said: "Twenty-five years, a quarter of a century, a lifetime. Thank you for the example you have given to us of refusing to give up."

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