Hillsborough disaster: Nottingham Forest consider installing memorial at City Ground

Martin Peach, Andy Caddell, Peter Hillier, Margaret Aspinall and Peter Scarfe at the Liverpool eternal flame memorial to those who died at Hillsborough
Forest supporters have joined Liverpool fans at Anfield over the years to pay their respects to those who died as a result of the Hillsborough disaster

Nottingham Forest will consider installing a memorial at the City Ground to remember those who died as a result of the Hillsborough disaster, says chairman Tom Cartledge.

A crush during an FA Cup semi-final involving Forest in 1989 resulted in the deaths of 97 Liverpool supporters.

A group of Forest fans who attended the match have called for their club to consider a permanent tribute.

Cartledge said he would meet with them “to have a conversation about it”.

Talking to BBC Sounds podcast, Hillsborough Unheard: Nottingham Forest Fans, Cartledge said: “I’d be delighted to sit down with those individuals and understand what that should mean and what that could look like.

“I’m aware that there are memorials at Anfield and Hillsborough and it is one of those that we should reflect on and if people want to make that idea to me, they should do.”

The Forest chairman, who says he is yet to be formally approached by supporters about their desire for a memorial, said he would look to involve the club’s fan advisory board – which is made up of members from a number of supporter groups.

Forest have previously paid tribute to those who lost their lives in the disaster by leaving 97 seats vacant when they hosted Liverpool in the FA Cup in 2022 – those seats were instead covered with a memorial banner.

In 2016, inquests concluded that the Liverpool fans who had died had been unlawfully killed.

No Forest supporters died at Hillsborough, but there were 28,000 of them in the ground to witness the tragedy unfold.

A group of them came together in recent years and benefitted from trauma counselling made available by Liverpool supporters through the Hillsborough Survivors Support Alliance (HSA).

A Nottingham branch of the HSA has since been set up.

‘A focal point’

Martin Peach, who was a 12-year-old Forest fan at Hillsborough, is one of the group’s members.

He has been among supporters who have taken a Forest-themed wreath to the Hillsborough memorial at Liverpool’s Anfield ground in previous years.

“It’s 35 years on, but it’s never too late to have a focal point where people can meet to remember and discuss what they saw and how they feel about it,” Peach said.

Former Forest defender Brian Laws, who played in the game that was abandoned at Hillsborough, says the club should have “done something earlier” to mark the tragedy.

“We were part of the day and it is one of the most historic days in the sport,” he added.

“Whilst you don’t want to commemorate something as awful as that, it’s that support and feeling that we are united. We are all in it together, we were all there together and we all feel the same issues together.”

For an FA Cup tie against Liverpool in 2022, Nottingham Forest covered 97 seats in tribute to Liverpool fans that died as a result of the Hillsborough disaster
For an FA Cup tie against Liverpool in 2022, Nottingham Forest covered 97 seats in tribute to Liverpool fans that died as a result of the Hillsborough disaster

Liverpool fan and HSA vice-chair Diane Lynn, who escaped the deadly crush in the Leppings Lane end at Hillsborough, supports calls for a tribute at Forest’s ground.

“It would just mean so much to people who were at Hillsborough,” she said.

“It’s a meeting point, a place to talk, and I do think it is something that is needed in Nottingham.”

Forest chairman Cartledge says the club, which already runs a number of wellbeing programmes and mental health projects, will look at ways it can help support fans that were at Hillsborough on 15 April 1989.

“If there is still a space that the football club can do more and, obviously recognising those people saw trauma whilst watching Nottingham Forest, we have an additional layer of responsibility there and then I think we should probably be doing a little bit more,” he added.

“I don’t know what level of support they might need, and what they might not be able to get for themselves or from other groups that are set up to support survivors of tragedies or perhaps people that have witnessed tragedies.”

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