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Liverpool v Everton: A message to put it all in perspective

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Liverpool captain Steven Gerrard, a man Everton fans love to hate, has given us all a reminder that some things are more important that football and tonight's derby should symbolise a city united, rather than a city divided.

Stu Forster

Derby day. A day for nerves, a day for passion, a day where families are split down the middle and lifelong friends are fiercely divided for 90 long minutes.

These local tussles have become particularly vitriolic in recent seasons, both on and of the pitch. The fixture has seen more red cards in the Premier League era than any other while increasingly antagonistic barbs have been fired between the two sets of supporters.

Despite those fairly unpleasant incidents one issue has ensured Liverpool as a city remains steadfastly as one: Hillsborough.

Everton have stood side-by-side with their city rivals since that dark day in 1989, none more so than in 2012 when the Hillsborough Independent Panel cleared Liverpool fans of any blame, forcing the government to formally apologise for the apparent cover-up and speed through a process that saw original inquest findings quashed and new inquests ordered by the High Court.

On the eve of yet another Merseyside derby, potentially one of the most pivotal meetings in recent years, Liverpool skipper Steven Gerrard, himself a recipient of some fairly unpleasant chanting over the years, has given us all a reminder of that 'special' relationship between the two clubs.

Gerrard has donated £96,000 to the Hillsborough Family Support Group, with the news being deliberately made public on the eve of Tuesday's big game.

Gerrard, who lost his cousin - 10-year-old John-Paul Gilhooley - at Hillsborough, says the decision to announce the donation is to remind people that the fight for justice is still ongoing.

It is also a public thank you to Everton for their unwavering support of their great rivals over the past 25 years.

Speaking to the Liverpool Echo, Gerrard said:

"I just think I’m in a position to do it.

"I think it’s a nice gesture and also with the connection I’ve got to Hillsborough, with my own family, it’s something I’ve wanted to do for a while.

"I  think the timing’s right and having spoken to the club I’ve decided to do it now.

"It had been in the media a lot so I didn’t think it was needed where I had to step in and keep it on everyone’s lips and in everyone’s minds.

"But now it’s gone a little bit quiet over the last couple of weeks, I think the timing’s really good to get it back out there – sending another message out about how much we really want this justice."

"I think their [Everton's] show of support has been there since the tragedy happened.

"But alongside the gesture I am making, I and every other Liverpool fan can only thank the Evertonians for their support.

"I’m not saying that to try and get in any Everton fans’ good books because I understand my own personal rivalry with them. But it’s there for everyone to see – the support they’ve given us which is very touching."

This is a wonderful gesture from Gerrard and one that reminds us all that there are things more important than football, even if it doesn't feel like it at times.

Now this shouldn't mean we head to Anfield tonight and hold hands with the enemy - because for 90 minutes that's exactly what they are. There's nothing I want more than to beat them on their own park and to rub their noses in it for the days, weeks and months until the next meeting. Some of my best friends are reds but today, they are across the divide and not worth bothering with.

However, before and after the game you should remember that Reds and Blues are still two sides of the same coin and on most issues should stand shoulder-to-shoulder, rather than face-to-face.