15 Apr 2014

Hillsborough memorial remembers 96 victims 25 years on

A memorial service marks 25 years since the Hillsborough disaster claimed the lives of 96 Liverpool football fans.

Relatives of the people who died were joined at Liverpool’s Anfield home by players, club officials and 24,000 fans to mark the anniversary.

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 15 April 1989.

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, with the crowd rising 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.

On the pitch, thousands of football scarves were laid out forming the shape of the number “96”, with donated scarves arriving from fans and clubs across the UK and beyond.

The Rev Kelvin Bolton, from the local parish of Christ Church and Holy Trinity, 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.”

You have made this city stronger and you will make our country fairer
Andy Burnham

Hymns and gospel music were sung and prayers read for those still suffering from their loss before MP and former Labour cabinet minister Andy Burnham addressed the service.

He was booed and jeered at the 20th memorial service in 2009 and he went back to parliament and became instrumental in the process of securing new inquests.

He said: “Five years ago things changed, not because of me but because of you.

“You helped me find the political courage to do something. You have made this city stronger and you will make our country fairer.

“What was your call five years is mine today – Justice for the 96.”

Trevor Hicks, president of the Hillsborough Family Support Group (HFSG), said Mr Burnham’s involvement led to the Independent Panel Report and the quashing of the original inquest verdicts.

Mr Hicks, who lost his daughters, Victoria, 15, and Sarah, 19, in the tragedy, said it had led to a change in not only Britain, but the world in the understanding about what Hillsborough truly was.

Mr Hicks paid tribute to the families involved: “We made it all happen. We stood together. We pulled, we pushed we refused to lie down, we refused to go away, which is something that annoyed an awful lot of people.

The Hillsborough inquest resumes next week.