Thousands pay Hillsborough respects

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Thousands of people gathered on Wednesday to mark the 20th anniversary of the Hillsborough disaster.

Ninety-six Liverpool supporters died in the crush at Sheffield Wednesday's stadium on April 15, 1989.

The Kop and the Centenary stands at Liverpool's Anfield Stadium were opened early for the official memorial service, which began at 2.45pm.

As numbers grew, part of the main stand was also opened to the public and at 3.06pm, the exact time the referee blew the whistle and abandoned the FA Cup semi-final between Liverpool and Nottingham Forest, a two-minute silence was observed throughout Merseyside and in Nottingham's Old Market Square.

After complications with the victims' families it was decided there would be no formal ceremony in Sheffield.

The Leppings Lane end of the Hillsborough ground, where the crush took place, was opened up earlier on Wednesday for people to visit and pay their respects.

Hundreds of floral tributes, scarves and football shirts of all colours were laid outside the Hillsborough memorial and tied to the Shankly Gates outside the Kop on Anfield Road.

Opening the service the Bishop of Liverpool, the Rt Rev James Jones, told the crowd the Queen had sent a message that her thoughts and prayers were with them.

The Bishop said the tragedy "broke the heart but not the spirit" of the community.

He said: "On this, the 20th anniversary of the tragedy at Hillsborough, which broke the heart but not the spirit of our community, Her Majesty the Queen has asked me to say that her thoughts and prayers are with us and all those affected by the tragedy."

Copyright (c) PA Sport 2009, All Rights Reserved.

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Sheffield Wednesday
Premier League
Nottingham Forest
FA Cup

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