English Premiership

Reds prepare for emotional day

2014-04-11 12:16
Hillsborough disaster (AFP)

London - English football will stop in unison for seven minutes this weekend in memory of the 96 fans who died in the Hillsborough disaster, 25 years ago.

In 1989, the FA Cup semi-final between Liverpool and Nottingham Forest at Sheffield Wednesday's ground was stopped after seven minutes as it became clear that Liverpool fans were dying, crushed against the railings.

The disaster led to wholesale changes in English football, eventually resulting in all-seater stadiums.

But 25 years on, the investigation into the disaster continues, 16 months after the original verdicts of accidental death were quashed in the High Court. Investigations found huge fault on behalf of the police, who were found to have covered up their own inadequacies, blamed fans, leaked untruths to the media and falsified testimony.

The families of the 96 men, women and children who died on April 15, 1989 are now hopeful of finally getting the entire truth.

Alan Hansen, the former Liverpool captain and now a television pundit, played in the Hillsborough match and said memories of the anguish were still fresh.

"The day itself will never leave you," he told BBC Sport. "Then there was the aftermath as well, going to the hospital in Sheffield on the Monday.

"The first person that came to us was a mother with a 14-year-old son. The life support machine was going to be cut off and she wanted us to see the boy before they cut it off.

"It was a million times worse and more for the mother but nobody prepares you for that.

"You're talking to a boy - and my son Adam was eight at the time and my daughter Lucy was five - that when you leave they are going to cut off the life support machine. I can hardly describe it."

Clubs around the country will hold their own tributes, including Manchester City. The club will present a wreath of flowers and 96 red and blues roses to Kenny Dalglish, the manager at the time, and Ian Rush, the most celebrated striker in the club's history, on the pitch before kick-off.

"Anfield will be very emotional on Sunday," Hansen said.

"The atmosphere will be phenomenal and Manchester City are a very good side but every time Liverpool have been asked the question they've answered," Hansen said.

Liverpool, who have not won the title since 1990, are currently top of the Premier League, two points clear of Chelsea and four ahead of City, who have played two games less.

Manager Brendan Rodgers said he wanted to be careful not to say too much, with the inquests having begun, but said they would try to provide a fitting tribute on and off the pitch.

"As a manager coming into the football club I know there are 96 people in the sky who will always be supporting this football team," he said.

"If we are to achieve anything this year, they will always be in our thoughts - the 96 in the sky and the families that go with them."

Read more on:    liverpool  |  english premiership  |  soccer
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