Hillsborough memories remain raw for Liverpool
Church bells will ring out 96 times across Liverpool today to remember each victim of the Hillsborough disaster who perished in the tragedy 20 years ago.
At six minutes past three, the time the game was abandoned, a two-minute silence will be held and the city's public transport will come to a halt.
The bells of Liverpool's Anglican and Roman Catholic cathedrals and civic buildings will also ring out.
The two-minute silence will be part of a larger memorial service held at Anfield.
Captain of Liverpool Football Club Steven Gerrard — whose 10-year-old cousin Jon-Paul Gilhooley was the youngest victim of the disaster — will lead the players to the ceremony.
Thousands of people are expected to attend the event marking the anniversary of the day that changed the face of modern football.
Beginning at 2.30pm Liverpool’s Lord Mayor Steve Rotheram will address those assembled alongside Trevor Hicks of the Hillsborough Family Support Group.
A family representative will be presented with the Freedom of the City honour by Steven Gerrard and Jamie Carragher.
A scarf will be laid on the pitch by Liverpool manager Rafael Benitez and a candle will be lit to remember each individual life.
During the service Gerry Marsden will also perform Liverpool FC’s anthem, You’ll Never Walk Alone.
The Lord Mayor will present individual scrolls to members of the victims’ families, and letters of support from the Queen and Prime Minister will be read.
Ninety-six Liverpool supporters died at the FA Cup semi-final between their team and Nottingham Forest on April 15 1989.
Ninety-four people died at the scene and 766 were injured. Two died later in hospital.
The game was abandoned six minutes into play as people were crushed against fences at the front of the Leppings Lane stand under the pressure of people surging into the stadium from the turnstiles.
On the LastingTribute.co.uk website people have been leaving their messages of sympathy to mark the anniversary.
Doug Hyam wrote: “Although 20 years have passed the thought of the horrific events will never leave me.”
Last Saturday football fans at Anfield observed an emotional minute's silence in memory of the victims of the disaster.
The stadium was completely hushed as players and fans from both Liverpool and Blackburn observed the sombre silence.
Football scarves were quietly held aloft, with one large banner bearing the message ‘96 Brothers'.
Stephen Warnock, Blackburn's former Liverpool player, carried a wreath onto the pitch and laid it on the turf in front of the Kop before kick-off.
Speaking about the anniversary Gerrard said: “It is important these people get remembered individually and not just as a number of 96.
“This club has fought for justice ever since and will continue to do so.”
A remembrance book has also been opened at Liverpool Town Hall for people to sign and leave messages.
And a commemorative song: The Fields Of Anfield Road, inspired by the Irish classic The Fields Of Athenry, has also been released.
It is sung by survivors and relatives of the victims, who join past and present Liverpool players and famous musicians from the city.
Singers include John Power of The La's and Cast, Peter Hooton of The Farm, Nick Kilroe from Echo And The Bunnymen, James Walsh of Starsailor and Rob Taylor of The Troubadours.
The record was released to raise money for the Hillsborough Families Support Group.
Mr Rotheram said: “Generations before mine used to claim that they could remember exactly where they were when man first landed on the moon, or on other such significant historical occasions.
“For us, everybody can instantly recall the precise moment they heard the news from Hillsborough.
“The memories of the terrible events of the 15th of April 1989 are as vivid today as they were 20 years ago.
“The launch of this CD is simply an attempt to commemorate the men, women and children who didn't return home from that FA Cup semi-final in Sheffield 20 years ago.
“We will never forget the 96,” he added.