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Football fans show unity in memorial for Birmingham pub bombs

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Emotional day: Julie Hambleton

Emotional day: Julie Hambleton

Emotional day: Julie Hambleton

A group of rival football fans will come together and lay a wreath to commemorate the victims of the 1974 IRA Birmingham pub bombings.

Supporters from Birmingham City, Aston Villa and West Bromwich Albion will set fierce footballing rivalries aside to attend the Birmingham Pub Bombings Memorial today to lay a wreath.

The ceremony will remember the 21 people killed and nearly 200 injured when two IRA bombs went off in the Mulberry Bush and the Tavern in the Town on November 21, 1974.

Julie Hambleton, whose 18-year-old sister Maxine was killed in the attacks, was contacted by John Meighan from the Football Lads Alliance (FLA) this week to say he was organising the event in a gesture of support for the families affected.

Ms Hambleton, who is spokesperson for the Justice4the21 campaign, a group of 10 families fighting for justice on behalf of their loved ones who were killed in the atrocity, welcomed the event, adding it would be an "emotional day" for all involved.

"This is a truly momentous occasion for us, especially as we are hoping to get the backing of Aston Villa, Birmingham City and West Bromwich Albion to support and help with our crowd-justice site," she added.

The FLA is a newly-formed group established after the Manchester Arena bombing in May 22 which took the lives of 22 people.

It says its mission is to unite football fans across the UK against all forms of terrorism.

A new inquest into the bombings was ordered last year but families of the victims were left outraged after it was ruled the perpetrators behind the attack will not be within the scope of the inquest.

The Justice4the21 campaign is seeking to raise £100,000 on its crowdfunding site to challenge the coroner's decision.

Campaigners have raised nearly £12,000 so far.

To donate visit www.crowdjustice.com/case/justice4the21

Belfast Telegraph