The 96 Liverpool fans who lost their lives will be remembered in prayers and sombre reflection as ordinary fans and Liverpool FC legends past and present join the families of those who lost loved ones.
Fans filling the Spion Kop gave Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp and his players a rousing reception as they took their place for the service, following last night’s last-gasp heroics in their Europa Cup tie.
England manager Roy Hodgson was also among the VIP guests in seats on the Kop ahead of the memorial, along with Kenny Dalglish and many of the team playing from the day of the disaster in 1989, including Alan Hansen and Mark Lawrenson. Former Anfield great Kevin Keegan was also in attendance.
Outside the ground at the permanent Hillsborough Memorial at the Centenary Stand a carpet of flowers was growing as supporters laid flowers in memory of those who died.
Tributes and scarves from teams across the world adorned the memorial.
Families of the 96 unanimously agreed this year’s service, held annually on April 15 to mark the anniversary, would be the last major public event at Anfield.
Hillsborough Family Support Group chairman Margaret Aspinall has said this year’s service will “draw a line under it” and thank those who have supported the families over the past 27 years.
The 96 Liverpool fans died in 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 15 1989.
A minutes silence will be held at Anfield at 3.06pm, to mark the exact time the fateful match was abandoned and across the city silence will fall.
Public transport will be halted, the Mersey Ferry will blow its funnels, and flags lowered on civic buildings before bells toll 96 times at Liverpool Metropolitan Cathedral.
The service was due to begin at 2.45pm.
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