Monday 16 December 2019

Steven Gerrard: Tears and victory were for the 96 Hillsborough victims

Carl Markham

Liverpool captain Steven Gerrard has dedicated his side's crucial win over title rivals Manchester City to the victims and families of the Hillsborough disaster.

The midfielder's 10-year-old cousin, Jon-Paul Gilhooley, was the youngest of the 96 to lose their lives at the FA Cup semi-final in Sheffield.

Tuesday is the 25th anniversary of the tragedy and Anfield will host the annual memorial service which all the squad will attend.

And it was the proximity of that date, plus the significance of the week in general, which saw Gerrard brought to tears at the final whistle.

"The reason I was so emotional was because of when this game fell," said the 33-year-old.

"It wasn't just because it was a big match in our season, it was because this week is always about more than football for everyone associated with Liverpool. It's emotional for so many people.

"I'm speaking on behalf of everyone when I say the win was dedicated to the victims and families of Hillsborough.

"All the squad will be present at the service to pay our respects as we should."

The service will also be attended by the club's directors and other staff as well as a number of former players and managers.

Current manager Brendan Rodgers and Everton boss Roberto Martinez will give readings.

The number '96' will be written on the pitch in large figures made up of scarves donated by fans of all clubs and from various sporting institutions.

Kenny Dalglish, manager at the time of the disaster, assisted in this initiative by writing to all 92 League clubs as well as the English, Northern Irish, Scottish and Welsh national teams for support.

The inspiration for the idea came from the 'mile of scarves' formed between Anfield and Goodison Park a week after the disaster in commemoration in 1989. More than 4,000 scarves were tied together.

The scarves will be donated to local good causes, including homeless charities, after the service by the Liverpool FC Foundation.

A number of tributes were also made prior to the Liverpool v City match on Sunday.

Next week, a celebration of the lives of the 96 victims is planned with a charity match in support of the Hillsborough Family Support Group.

A team of UK and Irish Liverpool legends, managed by Dalglish, will take on a side of international Reds greats, under the charge of Gerard Houllier.

The commemorations come a fortnight after fresh inquests into the deaths of 96 victims opened in Warrington.

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