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Monday, 15 April, 2002, 17:03 GMT 18:03 UK
Houllier ovation at ceremony
Hillsborough disaster
The disaster changed football stadia forever
Liverpool manager Gerard Houllier received a standing ovation at a ceremony to mark the 13th anniversary of the Hillsborough disaster.

The 1989 tragedy at Sheffield Wednesday's Leppings Lane end during an FA Cup semi-final claimed the lives of 96 fans.

Some 2,000 people lined Anfield's Kop for a simple service for those crushed to death in the disaster.

One of the good things to come out of Hillsborough is vastly improved stadiums

Trevor Hicks
Hillsborough Family Support Group chairman Trevor Hicks used the occasion to reinforce his opposition to recent calls for the return of standing areas in Premiership stadia.

Houllier, who recently returned to the touchline after life-saving heart surgery, stood alongside assistant Phil Thompson and Anfield legend Ian Rush.

Current stars and England internationals Emile Heskey and Nick Barmby attended as well as Gary McAllister, Patrik Berger, Markus Babbel and Vladimir Smicer.

Minute's silence

A candle was lit in memory of each of the supporters who lost their life on the Leppings Lane terrace.

The crowd also observed a minute's silence at 1506 BST - the exact time 13 years ago when the match referee blew the whistle to abandon the game.

Mr Hicks, who lost his two teenage daughters at Hillsborough, told of the 13-year struggle and the lengthy campaign for justice.

But he also pleaded for support in his battle against the return of standing areas at top division grounds, abolished after the report into the disaster.

"For the last 13 years I have asked you on behalf of the Hillsborough Family Support Group to stand up for Hillsborough - to stand up for what we believe - to stand up for the 96 who died.

'Beloved Kop'

"Now we ask a little more. We want you to sit for us.

"There are those who want to wind back the clock and bring back standing.

"It started at Old Trafford and is now even happening on my beloved Kop.

"We can have no credibility when we campaign for safety when fellow Koppites break the rules.

Huge applause

"One of the good things to come out of Hillsborough is vastly improved stadiums where mums and kids can come in safety. Standing may mean the return of fencing."

At the end of the service many among the crowd fought back tears as - scarves aloft - they sang the Anfield anthem You'll Never Walk Alone.

And as Gerard Houllier left the Kop to a huge round of applause, many young fans rushed forward to wish him well and shake his hand.

Earlier dozens of floral tributes were laid at the Liverpool Memorial dedicated to the supporters who died at in the disaster. The club's flag flew at half-mast.

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