THE final Anfield memorial service for the 96 victims of the Hillsborough disaster has been held in Liverpool.
The annual event had been staged at the Reds’ famous stadium since the tragedy at Sheffield Wednesday’s ground prior to an FA Cup semi-final which was subsequently abandoned following a terrace crush on April 15, 1989.
In January, relatives of the victims said said they had “unanimously agreed” this year’s service would be the last.
A minute’s silence was held across Liverpool at 3:06pm – the time when the match was called off.
The service opened with the names of each of the 96 who died in Britain’s worst sporting disaster read out between periods of singing of the hymn Abide With Me.
Fans in the Kop stand gave Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp and his players a rousing reception as they took their place for the service, while many of the Liverpool team from 1989 were among the guests, including Ian Rush, Alan Hansen and Mark Lawrenson.
Kenny Dalglish, who was manager of the Reds on the day of the disaster, received a standing ovation as he gave a reading from the Gospel of John.
Liverpool mayor Joe Anderson said that although this would be the last memorial service at Anfield, “it will not the last time Liverpool will remember”.
Anderson said: “This city will never forget the 96 people who lost their lives.
“You wouldn’t go away, and thank God you didn’t go away.”
He ended his address by asking the crowd to applaud “for exactly 96 seconds” to thank the families for all they had done for the city of Liverpool in the years since they lost their loved ones.
Flags at civic buildings across the city were flown at half-mast and during the minute’s silence public transport was brought to a halt.
At the conclusion of the silence, the bells of Liverpool’s Metropolitan Cathedral were tolled 96 times, before the service closed with a rendition of Liverpool Football Club’s anthem ‘You’ll Never Walk Alone’.