Page last updated at 14:33 GMT, Thursday, 6 September 2007 15:33 UK

Thousands gather for Rhys funeral

Rhys Jones' coffin being carried to the cathedral
Thousands of mourners packed into the cathedral for the funeral

Thousands of mourners gathered at Liverpool's Anglican Cathedral for the funeral service of murdered schoolboy Rhys Jones.

Rhys's uncle Neil Jones spoke of his "football crazy" nephew and read a short poem about the youngster written by his father Stephen.

Friends of the 11-year-old lit candles at the service as a mark of respect.

As the coffin left ahead of a private burial, the congregation broke into spontaneous applause.

The cortege arrived at 1400 BST and family members carried the blue coffin emblazoned with the Everton club badge into the cathedral.

Rhys Jones
Football is nothing without rivalry, particularly in a city such as ours, but life is nothing without friends
Neil Jones,
Rhys's uncle

Rhys's own football team arrived wearing their kit and black armbands, with his number 11 shirt missing.

He had been on his way back from football training on 22 August when he was shot and killed on a pub car park in Croxteth Park.

No-one has been charged with his murder.

The funeral service opened with the congregation, many wearing football shirts, singing All Things Bright and Beautiful.

Neil Jones said: "What can I tell you about my little nephew? Well, as I'm sure you all know he was football crazy, and absolutely nuts about Everton.

"Football is nothing without rivalry, particularly in a city such as ours, but life is nothing without friends.

"One thing he and I share today is that some of Rhys's closest friends are here wearing shirts of a different colour to his, but he always saw beyond that.

"They were friends first and football rivals second."

'Such solidarity'

In line with his parents' wishes the hushed crowds inside and outside the church wore a mixture of football shirts and bright clothes.

The funeral procession had travelled from the Jones family home and went past the Everton's Goodison Park ground.

Players from the club attended to the ceremony along with former Liverpool stars Brian Hall, Phil Neal and David Fairclough,

They were joined by pupils and staff from Rhys's former primary school, Broad Square.

Rhys Jones' funeral
Rival football fans were united in grief over Rhys's death
The Right Reverend James Jones, the Bishop of Liverpool, said Rhys's family wanted as many people as possible to come to the cathedral service.

"One of the lovely things about the city of Liverpool is the way people come together, there's such solidarity," he said.

"That's why they've taken this unusual step, really, of asking for the service to be in the cathedral so it can be open to as many members of the public as want to come."

Police chiefs at a firearms conference in Birmingham held a minute's silence for Rhys in the hours leading up to the service.

So far Merseyside Police have arrested 17 people in the murder investigation.

Twelve people have been bailed and a further five released without charge. They are now being treated as witnesses.

video and audio news
Rhys Jones's friends light candles in his memory

In pictures: Rhys Jones funeral
06 Sep 07 |  In Pictures

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