The city of Liverpool and its two football clubs are marking the 25th anniversary of the Hillsborough disaster today, with the memorial service at Anfield providing the focal point of the commemorations.
The all-ticket event, which attracted almost 30,000 people to the home of Liverpool FC on the 20th anniversary in 2009, will feature readings by opposing managers Brendan Rodgers and Roberto Martinez.
JMU Journalism reporters will be at Anfield to provide coverage of the service, which is also being beamed live to Everton fans at Goodison Park as Merseyside displays its characteristic unity on Hillsborough, with Reds and Blues casting sporting rivalry aside.
All football matches in England this weekend kicked off seven minutes later than originally scheduled as a mark of respect for the 96 fans who died at Hillsborough, where Liverpool met Nottingham Forest in the 1989 FA Cup semi-final which was abandoned after six minutes when the tragedy unfolded.
A special mosaic in honour of the 96 was displayed on the Kop and a minute’s silence was observed before Liverpool’s title showdown with Manchester City on Sunday, where the visitors joined Celtic FC in presenting floral tributes to the club in a gesture of their solidarity.
Mayor of Liverpool Joe Anderson said: “We will never forget those who died at Hillsborough, and this is a day for us to unite as a city and remember each and every supporter and the friends and families left behind.
“I urge everyone in Liverpool, and across the region, to observe the minute’s silence [at 3.06pm], 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.”
Bells will ring 96 times at several churches, including Liverpool’s Anglican Cathedral. The Lime Street media wall will display photographs of the victims throughout the afternoon and flags on council buildings will be flown at half-mast.
The new inquests into the deaths being held in Warrington have been adjourned for a week following a series of moving personal statements by the victims’ families which will recommence when the proceedings resume on April 22nd.