Thousands of people have gathered at Anfield to mark the 20th anniversary of the Hillsborough disaster which claimed the lives of 96 Liverpool supporters. The Kop and the Centenary stands at Liverpool's Anfield Stadium were opened early for the official memorial service in remembrance of those who died at an FA Cup semi-final against Nottingham Forest at Sheffield Wednesday's Hillsborough ground on Saturday 15th April 1989. 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 tie, a two-minute silence was held. As the families of the victims took their places on the Kop, the crowd of up to 25,000 people gave them a huge round of applause. There were also loud cheers and clapping for a group of Celtic fans who laid two banners on the Anfield turf emblazoned with "Justice for the 96" and "You'll never walk alone". Club officials then took their seats, followed by members of Liverpool's Academy. As Pepe Reina led the first team out, there were huge cheers and applause. Rafa Benitez followed with his wife, Montse, coach Sammy Lee, Jamie Carragher and Steven Gerrard. There were also cheers and applause for Everton's manager, David Moyes, and Kenny Dalglish, who gave a reading. Opening the service the Bishop of Liverpool, the Rt Rev James Jones, 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. "For many here today it seems still like yesterday. Those we lost always in our minds. "Never a day passes without a thought of what their tomorrow might have been, without that longing for justice for their sake as well as for ours." As the names of the 96 victims were read out at the service a bell tolled, while the bells of Liverpool's two cathedrals also rang out. The silence was also observed outside Hillsborough and in Nottingham, and was followed by a round of applause from those inside Anfield.
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