Nottingham Forest consider installing memorial at City Ground

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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.

During an FA Cup semi-final involving Forest in 1989, a crush occurred, resulting in the tragic deaths of 97 Liverpool supporters.

A contingent of Forest fans who were present at the match have advocated for their club to contemplate a lasting tribute.

Cartledge stated his intention to engage with them “to discuss the matter further.”

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 states he has not yet received formal communication from supporters regarding their request for a memorial, expressed his intention to involve the club’s fan advisory board, comprising members from various supporter groups.

Previously, Forest paid homage to the Hillsborough disaster victims by leaving 97 seats vacant during their FA Cup match against Liverpool in 2022. These seats were instead covered with a memorial banner.

In 2016, inquests concluded that the Liverpool fans who lost their lives had been unlawfully killed.

While no Forest supporters perished at Hillsborough, approximately 28,000 were present at the ground to witness the tragic events unfold. In recent years, a group of these fans has come together and received trauma counseling provided by Liverpool supporters through the Hillsborough Survivors Support Alliance (HSA).

As a result, a Nottingham branch of the HSA has been established.

‘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.”

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 run 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.”