The final Anfield memorial service for the 96 victims of the Hillsborough disaster took place on Friday (15th April) honouring those who died in Sheffield on 15th April 1989.
A sombre service was held to mark the final Hillsborough memorial at Anfield, 27 years to the day after the tragedy.
Loved ones of the 96 who died were joined at the home of Liverpool FC’s by past and present club legends and around 25,000 ordinary fans to mark the anniversary.
Families of the 96 unanimously agreed this year’s service, held annually on April 15 to mark the 1989 disaster, would be the last major public event at Anfield.
Today VIPs (very important persons) sat in the stands in honour of the fans who lost their lives as the service began on the pitch in front of the Kop.
Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp and his players received a rousing reception as they took their place for the service, following last night’s last-gasp heroics in their UEFA Europa League quarter-final.
England manager Roy Hodgson was also among the VIP guests in seats on the Kop, along with Kenny Dalglish and many of the team playing from the days of the disaster in 1989, including Alan Hansen and Mark Lawrenson.
Former Anfield great Kevin Keegan was also in attendance.
The service began with the traditional football hymn, Abide With Me, before silence fell as the names of the 96 were read aloud.
All died after 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 April 15th 1989.
As each name was read, a light was lit, one by one, on a large art sculpture entitled The Band Of Life, until all the lights were illuminated.
everend Kelvin Bolton, Christ Church and Holy Trinity at Walton Beck:
“27 years ago, six minutes past three a match hardly started yet ended and hundreds of lives changed forever. 96 did not return home. We stand in silence to remember, to give thanks for the gift of their lives, to each and every person.”
As the time reached 3.06pm (14:06 GMT), the exact moment the match was abandoned as the tragedy unfolded, a minute’s silence began.
“You’ll Never Walk Alone”, applause.
The minute’s silence ended with a round of applause, as across the city, bells tolled 96 times at the Metropolitan Cathedral.
Marking how the city has united to support and help the families of the 96, it was a player from Liverpool’s nearest rivals, former Everton striker Graeme Sharp, who gave the first reading.
Dalglish, one of Liverpool’s all-time greats, and manager of the team on the day of the disaster then received a standing ovation and rapturous applause as he gave the second reading.
Joe Anderson, the mayor of Liverpool, said the support and solidarity shown to the families of the 96 showed what the city was about.
Joe Anderson, the mayor of Liverpool:
“We stand with you and will support you during this difficult and emotional time.”
At end of the emotional service, 96 white doves were released before a rousing rendition of the club’s anthem, You’ll Never Walk Alone, reverberated around the ground.
The jury in the fresh Hillsborough Inquests are currently retired considering their verdicts following more than two years of hearings at the Coroner’s Court.