Hillsborough tragedy anniversary: Liverpool pay tribute to the 96 on 31st anniversary

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The coronavirus pandemic meant that there was no memorial service this year for the 96 fans that lost their lives at the FA Cup semi-final against Nottingham Forest in 1989.

Liverpool’s players and staff still observed a minute’s silence and club flags were flying at half-mast throughout the day as the Premier League leaders still paid tribute – with manager and captain both posting video messages.

Liverpool captain Jordan Henderson sent his message on behalf of the playing squad: “Today was a day when as a club we were all supposed to be together at Anfield to honour the lives of 96 people who went to a football match and never came home.

“The fact that we are unable to do so will make this anniversary especially hard for the families and survivors of Hillsborough.

“I’m not one for making speeches, but on behalf of all the players at Liverpool I just want to let everyone affected know that you are in our thoughts today.

“As ever, we are together in spirit even if we can’t be together in person. You’ll never walk alone.”

Reds boss Jurgen Klopp spoke also has his own video message in which he said his thoughts were with the families of the victims.

“Today is the most significant date for our football club each year,” Klopp said. “The plan was for us to be together at Anfield but this is not possible, the only thing we can make sure is we are in each other’s thoughts.

“Believe me you have our thoughts, you have our prayers and most of all you have our love. You’ll never walk alone.”

The memorial service was due to be the very last one at Anfield, as the Hillsborough Family Support Group said the the families would remember their loved ones “in their own way” on future anniversaries.

Margaret Aspinall, chairwoman of the group, said: “In light of recent events, a decision was made collectively by the families to postpone our final memorial service at Anfield.

“We wish to keep as many people safe as possible and we believe this is the right approach.

“On behalf of the HFSG, I would like to thank everyone for their understanding in this matter.”

Fresh inquests held in 2016 found the 96 men, women and children were unlawfully killed and found that blunders by South Yorkshire’s police and ambulance services “caused or contributed to” their deaths, and exonerated Liverpool fans of wrongdoing.

It was announced in February that the families of the victims had decided to hold a last service after former police match commander David Duckenfield was cleared of gross negligence manslaughter following a retrial in November.

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