Liverpool owner John Henry 'humbled' by Hillsborough families
Today marks the anniversary of the disaster
Monday 15 April 2013
Liverpool's principal owner John Henry praised the perseverance of the Hillsborough families in their campaign for justice, admitting he was “humbled” by their dignity.
The American, significantly making his first appearance at the annual service to remember those who died in the 1989 disaster, gave a reading before addressing thousands assembled on the Kop at Anfield.
"I can understand the importance of the 96 to the club," Henry said.
"I have been humbled by the dignity and perseverance of the families in their search for truth and justice.
"It is an honour to be here on this particular day, the first service since the publication of the Hillsborough Independent Panel's report.
"Now there is a real belief that justice will be served.
"This club will always cherish the memory of family and friends lost 24 years ago today. They will forever be part of Liverpool Football Club."
Henry's reading was followed later in the afternoon by Everton chairman Bill Kenwright, symbolising the way in which the city had been united in both grief and the subsequent quest for justice.
"I hope since that day you have known the support of Everton Football Club for you," he said.
"I hope by this time next year you will be celebrating the greatest victory that a team in this country could do."
Henry and Kenwright were joined by Liverpool chairman Tom Werner, manager Brendan Rodgers, backroom staff and players in the Kop in front of thousands of members of the public, some carrying banners, many wearing the colours of Liverpool and also plenty in Everton blue.
Many former players who attended, including Kenny Dalglish, who was also the manager at the time of Hillsborough and returned to the club for a second spell in 2011, Alan Hansen, who played in the ill-fated semi-final, and Kevin Keegan.
The arrival of the Hillsborough families, en masse, prompted a prolonged standing ovation from the members of the public seated immediately behind them on the Kop.
This was the first anniversary to be marked after the publication of the Hillsborough Independent Panel's report into the 1989 disaster.
The findings once and for all absolved fans of any wrongdoing in the tragedy, instead highlighting the failings and subsequent cover-up by the police and other agencies.
Families had campaigned long and hard for the truth to be made public and while the report was the first step on that road there remains a long way to go.
Later this month there will be a preliminary hearing in London to decide the parameters for a new inquest after the original verdicts were quashed last year.
That process could realistically take a couple of years but, unlike this time 12 months ago, the Hillsborough families can at least now feel fully vindicated that their determined campaigning for the lies to be exposed will not be in vain.
Margaret Aspinall, chairman of the Hillsborough Family Support Group, said the cover-up of the disaster "will be a stain on this nation and certain individuals - and they know who they are".
She added: "It is a real honour to be able to stand in front of you today and say after nearly a quarter of a century the real truth is out, a truth that finally puts the record straight. Now justice must follow.
"It has taken 8,551 dark days and a report incorporating 395 pages to finally expose what we all knew from day one - the fans were not blame."
Latest in Sport
Mario Balotelli to Liverpool: Best memes as Twitter reacts to imminent £16m transfer
Manchester United transfer news: Louis van Gaal joins Arsenal and Chelsea in the race for Sami Khedira
Mario Balotelli takes 50 per cent pay cut to join Liverpool as Samuel as Eto’o waits in the wings if deal falls through
Crystal Palace next manager latest: Palace consider Ally McCoist - EXCLUSIVE
Click here for the full story." title="When a youngster asked for an autograph outside Manchester City's training ground, Balotelli demanded to know why the boy was playing truant. After the child revealed he was being bullied, Balotelli drove the boy and his mother to the school in question so he could tackle the bully himself. He demanded to see the headmaster to make him aware of the issue and then mediated between the two boys to resolve the problem. A source said: 'Mario feels strongly about bullying.' Click here for the full story." width="88" height="52" />Mario Balotelli: The funniest stories
- 1 'Alien thigh bone' on Mars: Excitement from alien hunters at 'evidence' of extraterrestrial life
- 2 Mother fed her daughter tapeworms to make her skinny for pageant
- 3 Crystal Palace next manager latest: Palace consider Ally McCoist - EXCLUSIVE
- 4 Richard Dawkins on babies with Down Syndrome: 'Abort it and try again – it would be immoral to bring it into the world'
- 5 ALS ice bucket challenge co-founder Corey Griffin drowns, aged 27
Richard Dawkins on babies with Down Syndrome: 'Abort it and try again – it would be immoral to bring it into the world'
Scottish independence: English people overwhelmingly want Scotland to stay in the UK
Isis threat: Cameron wants an alliance with Iran
Michael Brown shooting: Chaos erupts on the streets of Ferguson after autopsy shows teenager was shot six times – twice in the head
Disgusting, frustrating, but intriguing: how the country really feels about its politicians
Bin bag full of cats' heads discovered near Manchester's Curry Mile