Hillsborough disaster anniversary: Liverpool remembers the 96 with church bells and silence

Across the city, public transport will be halted, the Mersey Ferry will blow its funnels, and barriers at both Mersey Tunnels will be lowered

Rob Williams
Tuesday 15 April 2014 16:04
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The city of Liverpool came to a standstill as church bells across Merseyside rang 96 times this afternoon to mark the 25th anniversary of the Hillsborough disaster.

As the people of the city fell silent, the bells of Liverpool's Anglican Cathedral, Liverpool Town Hall and other churches across the area tolled 96 times at 3.06pm, the exact time a quarter of a century ago that Liverpool FC's FA Cup match against Nottingham Forest was abandoned.

Across the city, public transport was halted, the Mersey Ferry blew its funnels, and barriers at both Mersey Tunnels were lowered.

At the city's main railway station, Lime Street, a huge screen displayed photographs of those who lost their lives in the crush on the Leppings Lane terraces at Sheffield Wednesday's Hillsborough ground.

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."

"Our thoughts and prayers are with their loved ones today."

Twenty-six thousand people were at Anfield for an emotional service to mark the anniversary of the disaster on April 15, 1989.

Brendan Rodgers, the current Liverpool manager, read Psalm 23 of the King James Bible, “The Lord is my shepherd”. Roberto Martinez, manager of neighbours and city rivals Everton, also read at the service.

Liverpool footballers past and present attended the ceremony, including the current squad.

Labour politician, Andy Burnham, who was booed by a crowd of supporters when he addressed them in 2009 as the then serving Labour minister for culture, media and sport, also made a speech.

In a celebration inspired by the one-mile chain of scarves between Goodison Park and Anfield, created a week after the disaster and started by the then Everton star Ian Snodin, scarves were laid out on the Anfield turf in the shape of the number 96.

The scarves have been donated by clubs across England, Wales and Ireland after Anfield legend Kenny Dalglish, who was Liverpool manager at the time of the disaster and has a long association with the families' campaign for justice, wrote to clubs asking them to show solidarity on the anniversary.

The ceremonies come after a weekend of events to mark the anniversary. The FA delayed the kick-offs of all games this weekend in the FA Cup, Premier League, Football League and Conference by seven minutes to respect the 96 people who died in the Hillsborough disaster.

There were emotional scenes at Anfield as Liverpool, who are currently chasing their first Premier League title for 24 years, met Manchester City in their title clash.

The anniversary comes amid a new inquest into the deaths of the 96 Liverpool supporters which is being carried out in a converted courtroom in Warrington.

Proceedings have been halted during the anniversary week.

Some of those present at today's memorial are witnesses in the new inquest into Britain's worst sporting disaster. The original accidental deaths verdicts in 1991 were quashed in the High Court in 2012 after a long campaign by the fans' families.

The Director of Public Prosecutions last year said he is looking at new evidence revealed by the Hillsborough Independent Panel which could see senior police officers and officials in charge of the Hillsborough football stadium face trial for manslaughter.

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