At precisely the same time the football match in Sheffield was abandoned 20 years ago to the day; three cites united to remember the lives of 96 innocent fans who tragically died at Hillsborough stadium.
At 3.06pm today people paid their respects to those Liverpool supporters crushed to death in the Leppings Lane end on 15 April 1989.
Around the city of Liverpool the whole transport network – the buses, ferries, and trains – came to a standstill and even those shopping on this Easter week stopped in their tracks and stayed silent for two impeccably observed minutes.
In Nottingham, the city whose football team Forrest were Liverpool’s FA Cup semi-final opponents in Sheffield back then, around 2,000 people gathered to observe a silent respect. And in Sheffield a further 300 or so people attended a brief memorial at Hillsborough, the home to its football team Sheffield Wednesday.
But it did not surprise me one bit the Hillsborough memorial service, held each year at Anfield – home to Liverpool FC, had its biggest attendance today.
I’m sure if they could, the close to 30,000 people in the famous ground would have attended each year, but this particular year had the added incentive it is 20 years since the disaster – two decades and a lifetime on.
When nearly all present joined in a chant and heart felt voice of “Justice for the 96” it also demonstrated, not only to the current Culture Secretary Andy Burnham but the whole country, many still believe strongly these supporters, daughters, sons, and fathers killed on the day have still not been treated fairly.
Their voice was further heard through Mr Trevor Hicks, who lost both his daughters at Hillsborough, and Lord Mayor of Liverpool Cllr Steve Rotheram, who was – as most inside Anfield today – present in Sheffield that day.
Singing by the church choir of St Anne Stanley and Liverpool Singing Choir as well as Lee Roy James, who sang the poignant ‘Hillsborough Anthem’, captured the mood perfectly.
The service closed with Gerry Marsden and everyone in attendance joining together in a moving and spine tingling rendition of ‘You’ll Never Walk Alone’.
Not only was this day a day to be remembered, but also there are 96 reasons for it not to be forgotten.