Museum in Liverpool traces owner of coat left at Anfield after the Hillsborough disaster in memory of those who died

A museum in Liverpool has traced the owner of a football supporter's coat left at Anfield immediately after the Hillsborough disaster, in memory of those who died.

It was once the prize possession of super fan John Collins, who customised it for his team's European Cup Victory in 1981.

After receiving the coat from his friend, the 62-year-old, who grew up in Norris Green and now lives in St Helens, said: "When I got home, the first thing I drew on it was a Liver Bird on the back, then two more on the front. Then I just started trying things and putting different things on it."

"After all that was done, one of my old school mates at St Philomena's, Robbie Savage, was on Liverpool's books at the time. I asked if he could take it to Melwood for me for the players to sign. When I got it back I was made up with it."

John Collins wearing his coat. Credit: Liverpool Echo.

John's most prized signature was that of Terry McDermott, one of his favourite players at the time, and his mum and sister helped embroider some of the designs so they would survive being worn.

John wrote Credit: Liverpool Echo.

The coat had its first outing in Paris, at the 1981 European Cup final between the Reds and Real Madrid, which Liverpool won 1-0.

One of the most recognisable features was the giant Liver Bird on the back, above which John wrote: "The proudest Liverpudlian."

While John went to games home and away throughout the 1980s, he did not always wear the coat.

But he valued it as a treasured memento.

John escaped to safety in the midst of the disaster. Credit: Liverpool Echo.

On April 15, 1989, he and his friends travelled to Sheffield to watch the FA Cup semi-final with Nottingham Forest.

He was in the Leppings Lane end with one of his friends when the terrace crush that claimed the lives of 96 men, women and children unfolded.

The pair escaped to safety and then helped other supporters, including carrying the injured across the pitch.

When Anfield was opened up for tributes, John went to pay his respects.

He said: "I had to give something and that was the only thing I could give. That is the reason I put it on the Kop, to give something back.

John also left some poems when he placed his coat on the terrace.

He ended up helping with the stewarding at Anfield as thousands left memorials at the ground and, when football returned, became a match day steward in the moat before the Kop.

John once saw his coat on display in the old Museum of Liverpool Life, but did not make himself known to the curators of the exhibition. He does not know why.

But when his attention was drawn to the Museum of Liverpool's appeal last month, the grandad responded.

John said: "It did take me back. It was a good time, the excitement and that. It was a really good time."

Video report by correspondent Andy Bonner:

Read more: