Hillsborough marked 25 years on

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Hillsborough 25th anniversary memorial service at Anfield. Pic by Ida Husøy

Hillsborough 25th anniversary memorial service at Anfield. Pic by Ida Husøy

April 15th serves as a time for remembrance and reflection in Liverpool, and the city once again united at Anfield to pay tribute to the 96 fans who lost their lives in the Hillsborough disaster.

On the 25th anniversary of the tragedy, around 25,000 gathered at the annual memorial service. There appeared to be a real sense of progress around the ground – a tangible air of anticipation amid the customary emotions which suggested that answers the city has fought so long for are getting closer.

This was signalled by the return of Andy Burnham, MP for Leigh and a leading figure in the political campaign to establish what happened on that tragic day in Sheffield 25 years ago.

Burnham had received a hostile reception at the service when speaking on the 20th anniversary back in 2009, and the Labour politician reflected upon how that day led to renewed hope and purpose in the justice campaign.

He told the crowd: “Five years ago things changed; not because of me, but because of you, all of you. Things changed because once again you were here in your thousands.

“How can it be that an entire city was crying injustice for 20 years and nobody was listening?

“I knew you were right and they were wrong. You gave me the political courage to do something. I wanted to address you today to thank you for that and for all the encouragement you have given me since.”

Everton FC manager Roberto Martinez arrives at the Hillsborough 25th anniversary memorial service at Anfield. Pic by Ida Husøy

Everton FC manager Roberto Martinez arrives at the Hillsborough 25th anniversary memorial service at Anfield. Pic by Ida Husøy

The service was opened by Reverend Kelvin Bolton, who delivered a powerful message about not giving up in the pursuit of justice, before the name of each one of the 96 victims was read out, with a rendition of the hymn ‘Abide With Me’ being sung by the Love and Joy Gospel Choir.

Individual prayers and hymns were accompanied by readings from the managers of both Merseyside clubs, who were given standing ovations even before their excellent speeches.

The first to speak was Everton manager Roberto Martinez, who read verses 1-3 of St John Chapter 14, before addressing the Kop and confirming that his club will build a permanent Hillsborough memorial at Goodison Park later this year, which was met with a warm reception.

Recollecting his thoughts on the day of the tragedy, he said: “As a family we couldn’t believe the pain and horror of the families affected when we heard that people would not be coming home from a football match.

“What happened after the disaster wasn’t right and wasn’t fair, but as my chairman said last year, the authorities took on the wrong city if they thought they were going to get away with it.

Hillsborough 25th anniversary memorial service at Anfield. Pic by Ida Husøy

Hillsborough 25th anniversary memorial service at Anfield. Pic by Ida Husøy

“I know I don’t have to tell you, Everton are with you – you know that.”

Martinez was followed by Liverpool boss Brendan Rogers, who read Psalm 23, ‘The Lord is My Shepherd’, and paid his own tributes to those affected by the disaster.

He said: “Every day I’m inspired when I come to work. You don’t struggle for inspiration when you’re Liverpool FC manager. But without doubt the single biggest source of inspiration for me is when I arrive to see the memorial of the 96 names who were lost that day. That is the source of true inspiration.”

Other speakers included Trevor Hicks and Margaret Aspinall of the Hillsborough Family Support Group, before the ceremony was brought to a close by a rendition of ‘You’ll Never Walk Alone’, led by Gerry Marsden and the Kop, and the release of 96 red balloons.

Report: City pays silent respects to the 96 >>

Additional reporting by Jack Maguire & Paul McIntyre. Photo galleries by Ida Husøy – click on a thumbnail to enlarge the images.

Hillsborough 25th anniversary memorial service at Anfield. Pics by Ida Husøy

Hillsborough 25th anniversary memorial service at Anfield. Pics by Ida Husøy

Hillsborough 25th anniversary memorial service at Anfield. Pics by Ida Husøy

Hillsborough 25th anniversary memorial service at Anfield. Pics by Ida Husøy

About Nick Seddon, JMU Journalism