• Premier League

Liverpool owners to attend Hillsborough tribute

ESPN staff
April 15, 2013
Liverpool observed a minute's silence prior to their match at Reading in memory of the Hillsborough disaster © Getty Images

Liverpool principal owner John W Henry and chairman Tom Werner will join those paying tribute to the victims of the Hillsborough disaster at Anfield on Monday.

Ninety-six Liverpool fans died at the FA Cup semi-final against Nottingham Forest in Sheffield on April 15, 1989. A memorial service at Anfield will include the lighting of candles for each of the 96 victims and a minute's silence at 3.06pm, the time the match against Forest was abandoned.

As a tribute to the victims, a 7ft bronze drum-shaped memorial sculpture was unveiled in Liverpool city centre on Sunday.

Managing director Ian Ayre told the Liverpool Echo: "We'll have our owners over for the event this year. It's always important that people at the club show their support for everybody. I am sure everyone will do that on the day.

"Our role at the club right from the event itself has always been to be supportive - supportive of the families, supportive of the fans and supportive of the process. That continues and will always continue. As far as the families are concerned, we're always there for them."

The service will be the first since an independent report, published last September, exonerated fans of any blame for the tragedy. That report also established the extent to which the emergency services attempted to cover up their culpability and highlighted flaws in the original inquests - the verdicts of which have since been quashed.

In addition, the Independent Police Complaints Commission - the UK's police watchdog - is conducting an inquiry into the police's role in the disaster, to ascertain whether criminal charges will be brought against individual officers.

Ayre added: "People really do believe that perhaps we're quite close to finding the justice that's deserved. Hopefully that will bring a bit less sadness, if that's possible, to the service itself, but also some relief and happiness that all of that great work, all of the striving and all of the effort that everybody involved put in is finally heading towards something significant.

"There has been a lot achieved for the families but there's still a long way to go and let's just hope the authorities can do that as swiftly as possible to give them some peace. I know on the day of the service every year, the families feel support and love and I am sure that has been a big strength to them throughout the years they've had to endure all the pain."

Campaigner Anne Williams, whose 15-year-old son Kevin died at Hillsborough, was too ill to attend Monday's service, but sent a message of thanks to those who helped in her fight for justice. Williams, 62, was diagnosed with terminal cancer six weeks after the Hillsborough Independent Panel released its report into the tragedy last September.

Sheila Coleman, of the Hillsborough Justice Campaign, will deliver a statement on her behalf during the service. Coleman told the Echo: "The fact that Anne is too ill to attend the memorial service and personally thank the many people who continue to support her is a sad indication of how Hillsborough has taken its toll.

"In fighting Kevin's case over many years she has sacrificed her own health and wellbeing. This should never have happened."

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