City marks 25th anniversary of Hillsborough disaster

Tributes to the 96 who died at Hillsborough. PA Wire.
Tributes to the 96 who died at Hillsborough. PA Wire.
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Tributes will be paid to the 96 Liverpool fans who lost their lives at Hillsborough today - 25 years after the disaster.

Representatives from Sheffield and Liverpool city councils will lay wreaths at the Hillsborough Memorial Garden where there will be a service of remembrance.

The bells of Liverpool’s Anglican Cathedral, Liverpool Town Hall and churches in the region will be rung 96 times at 3.06pm.

It marks the moment the crush that led to the deaths of 96 fans halted Liverpool’s FA Cup semi-final at the Sheffield ground on 15 April 1989.

Coun Vickie Priestley, Lord Mayor of Sheffield, said: “This is a solemn and sad occasion. 
“Our thoughts are with the families and friends of those who lost their loved ones in the disaster.”

Coun Roz Gladden, Deputy Mayor of the City of Liverpool, added: “I am honoured to be representing the people of Liverpool here in Sheffield to mark the 25th anniversary of the Hillsborough tragedy.

“My thoughts and prayers are with everyone in Liverpool and beyond who has been touched by the disaster.

“I urge everyone to reflect for a moment and remember the 96 lives lost and the families and friends left behind.”

The service in Sheffield will take place at the permanent memorial on Parkside Road adjacent to the club’s main entrance and include a minute’s silence and prayers for those who died.

Owls chairman Milan Mandaric will lay a wreath of flowers on behalf of the club.

A SWFC spokesman: “Everyone at Sheffield Wednesday FC would like to express ongoing sympathies to the families of those who lost their lives and the wider Liverpool community affected so deeply by the disaster.”

At Anfield loved ones of the victims will join players, staff and senior representatives of the club among 24,000 people attending the annual memorial service.

Brendan Rodgers, the current manager, will give a reading at the service as well as Roberto Martinez, manager of city rivals Everton.

Thousands of football scarves will be laid out on the pitch at Anfield 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.

In Liverpool public transport will be halted at 3.06pm, the Mersey Ferry will blow its funnels, and barriers at both Mersey Tunnels will be lowered, as the bells ring out at the Anglican Cathedral, Liverpool Parish Church, the town hall and other civic buildings and churches.

Mayor of Liverpool Joe Anderson said: “This year marks a pivotal moment in the history of the Hillsborough tragedy and the families’ long fight for justice.

“Not only is it the 25th anniversary of the tragedy but we also have the start of fresh inquests into how the 96 lost their lives.

“We will never forget those who died at Hillsborough, and this is a day for us to unite as a city and remember each one, and also their families and friends left behind.

“I urge everyone in Liverpool, and across the region, to observe the minute’s silence, stand shoulder to shoulder and remember the 96 fans that went to a football match and never returned home.

“Our thoughts and prayers are with their loved ones today.”

At Lime Street, the city’s main railway station, a huge screen will display a photo of each of those who lost their lives on April 15 1989 in the crush on the Leppings Lane terraces at Sheffield Wednesday’s Hillsborough ground as the cup semi-final versus Nottingham Forest got under way.

Some of those present at today’s memorial are witnesses in the new inquest into Britain’s worst sporting disaster, which began last month and resumes next week.

The original accidental deaths verdicts in 1991 were quashed in the High Court in 2012 after a long campaign by the fans’ families.