Banners in memory of the victims of the Hillsborough disaster hang at St Georges Hall in Liverpool Phil Noble/ Reuters

To the strains of The Beatles song, "There are places I remember," a dignified memorial service took place outside Liverpool St George's Hall to commemorate the 96 who died at Hillsborough and remember those who survived but have lived with the pain for 27 years. Some 96 red roses were laid, one for each of the victims, by children who were not even born on the day of the tragedy.

Beneath a huge banner reading "Truth Justice", the city's mayor Joe Anderson got a cheer when he said the truth had finally triumphed, that those who had died were unlawfully killed and the fans were not to blame.

He then launched into an attack on the "gutter press," and particularly The Sun which has never been forgiven in Liverpool for false headlines in the aftermath of the disaster. Anderson singled out Kelvin MacKenzie, the editor at the time, and Boris Johnson, who in 2004 repeated false claims about "drunken" fans contributing to the tragedy.

"This isn't a self-pity city," said Anderson, referring to Johnson's claim, "this is a self-gritty city. It's in our DNA to fight injustice at every opportunity."

Following prayers by leaders of the city's Anglican and Catholic churches, there were more huge cheers when Liverpool legend Kenny Dalglish read a version of "Footprints." Dalglish was the Liverpool manager on 15 April 1989 after which he spent a huge amount of time with victims' families for several years, work which has meant he is hugely respected in the city.

After a moving rendition of "Abide with me" sung by young Liverpool singer Danielle Thomas, the names of all 96 victims were read out by local MPs including Andy Burnham and Maria Eagle. As the faces came up, so many of the dead seemed so young - so many teenagers, lives wasted, even their photographs now fading.

Following the reading of "Liverpool," a poem by poet laureate Carol Ann Duffy, the chair of the Hhillsborough Family Support Group Margaret Aspinall spoke to huge applause. Margaret, who lost her son James, said the verdict was justice for all fans and not just the 96.

Then a number of the other relatives who were involved in the fight for justice took to the stage, speaking of their grief, anger and pride. Among them were Charlotte Hennessy, Sheila Coleman and Danny Gordon, the last of whom mentioned some of those who also fought for justice but had sadly died before the whole truth was revealed.

The closing remarks were again by by Mayor Anderson, who thanked all present for showing the true spirit of the great city of Liverpool. The vigil ended with a moving rendition of "You'll Never Walk Alone."

One banner perhaps summed up the struggle better than any: "They picked on the wrong city."

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