Hillsborough vigil unites Liverpool

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Media captionLiverpool FC players lit candles in honour of the 96 victims

The message from Liverpool was clear as 10,000 people gathered at the vigil to show their respects to the families of Hillsborough victims.

It was a sea of football scarves, not just red and white, standing united at the service.

There was a respectful hush from the waiting crowd at St George's Plateau in the centre of the city, with many still reeling from the disclosures in the independent report published earlier which vindicated Liverpool fans.

Survivors stood shoulder to shoulder with youngsters who were not born on the fateful day when 96 people lost their lives at Sheffield Wednesday's ground.

'Support families'

Trisha Longhorn, from Crosby, was in pen three at the match when the tragedy happened in 1989.

Now 51, she said she was there for the loved-ones of those who perished alongside her in the crush.

Image caption Trisha Longhorn, who survived the tragedy, said the families had been a credit to the city

"I am here to show my support to the families. The public at large now knows what we have known for 23 years that we have suffered a massive injustice," she said.

"The fans have been vindicated and we need to support the families now.

"They have been a credit to the city."

She added: "I was one of the lucky ones - extremely lucky."

Tears flowed among the crowd during the vigil, some still mourning the loss of lives in the tragedy while some were of relief after such a long fight for justice to absolve the fans of blame.

'Fight for justice'

Adam Tremarco, 18, said he had to go the service for the families of the victims.

"We've come to show our respect to them," he said.

"They wouldn't let it rest and they never gave up the fight for justice.

"[Hillsborough] is part of our culture. I wasn't even alive but we will never ever forget those that died."

James Parker, 19, from Walton, said the tragedy had united the city.

"It has pulled everyone together. It's not just Liverpool fans or even Everton fans but the whole country," he said.

Liverpool FC season-ticket holder Maxine Joyce, from Bootle, took her son Ethan, 10, to take part in the vigil.

"I felt I had to come," she said.

"I always knew we weren't to blame, but I am shocked at the extent of the disclosures.

"I brought Ethan along to the service. He wasn't born [at the time] but he understands the significance of the tragedy to the club and the city."

Image caption Maxine Joyce said she felt compelled to go to the service with her son Ethan

The sombre mood of the crowd erupted into cheers when the families of the Hillsborough victims took to the stage holding a copy of the report which heralded chants of "Justice for the 96" from the crowd.

There was a second wave of rapturous applause when Kenny Dalglish, the manager of Liverpool at the time of the disaster, walked on stage accompanied by Jamie Carragher and members of Liverpool's youth academy, who carried lanterns in memory of the dead.

Dalglish, along with Carragher, helped read out the names of 96 victims.

Speakers included Margaret Aspinall, Sheila Coleman and Anne Williams, who represented the Hillsborough families, as well as the Mayor of Liverpool and Leader of Liverpool City Council, who organised the event, Joe Anderson.

Justice for the 96 has been something of a mantra for the people of Liverpool for so long. Twenty-three years after the disaster the people of Liverpool believed they were finally getting justice for the Hillsborough victims.

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