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FA Cup

Forest to pay tribute to the 97 victims of Hillsborough disaster

Nottingham Forest and Liverpool will renew an old rivalry in the FA Cup on Sunday, but the clubs are forever bound by a tragedy.

Forest to pay tribute to the 97 victims of Hillsborough disaster
Getty Images

Nottingham Forest will leave 97 seats empty when they face Liverpool in the FA Cup on Sunday in tribute to the fans who died as a result of the Hillsborough disaster.

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Tragedy at Hillsborough

Forest were Liverpool's opponents in the FA Cup semi-final at the home of Sheffield Wednesday on one fateful Saturday afternoon in April 1989. A chain of events led to Liverpool fans being crushed on the over-crowded Leppings Lane terrace just moments after the game had kicked off. It remains a tragedy that touches both clubs, and the victims will be remembered when the sides meet for the first time in 23 years.

Two-time European Cup winners Forest have been outside the top flight of English football since 1999, meaning the once great rivalry that existed between them and Liverpool has gone cold, but the chance to reach a cup semi-final means the City Ground is a sell-out. However one small section of the stadium will remain unoccupied.

Forest said in an announcement on Twitter: "Never forgotten. 97 seats will be left vacant at tomorrow's match in honour of those who lost their lives at our FA Cup semi-final in 1989. We look forward to welcoming Liverpool FC to the City Ground."

Seats next to a scoreboard in the stadium will be covered by draping bearing the message: '97 NEVER FORGOTTEN 15.4.89'.

The disaster saw 95 fans die on the day or within days of the semi-final, which was abandoned shortly after kick-off. A 96th victimTony Bland was left on life-support and died in 1993, and the 97th to die as a direct result of the incident, Andrew Devine, passed away last year.

After a lengthy battle for justice, all 97 victims of Hillsborough were recently ruled to have been unlawfully killed. A 1991 inquest verdict of accidental death was overturned at the high court in 2012.