Merseyside united: Classy Everton's show of solidarity encapsulated by Moyes' tribute
07:22 GMT, 18 September 2012
They were scenes that proved there are far more important things in life than football.
Before a ball had even been kicked between Newcastle and Everton at Goodison Park, the blue side of Liverpool had already shown their class.
In a moving show of solidarity, two mascots, one young girl in Everton blue and one small boy in the red of Liverpool, led the players on to the pitch.
Solidarity: The two mascots' numbers combined to read 96, the number of those who lost their lives in 1989
Respect: The Everton team showed their support to the victims' families
As they emerged in front of the teams from the tunnel, the numbers on the back of the shirts became visible, the girl’s was the number 9, and the boy had the number 6.
This neat touch was, of course, implemented for Everton to show their support to the families of the 96 victims of the Hillsborough disaster.
The players and mascots assembled on the centre circle before The Hollies’ He Ain’t Heavy was belted out of the speakers accompanied by a photo collage of the 96 victims of the disaster.
The players, the staff, the officials and the fans inside the stadium, among them Trevor Hicks and Margaret Aspinall, applauded throughout the song as the faces of those who lost their lives in 1989 poignantly lingered on the screen.
Solidarity: A banner inside Goodison Park showed the unity in the city
Leighton Baines dedicated his strike – the first goal in the 2-2 draw with Newcastle – to the memory of the Hillsborough disaster victims. His father, a Liverpool fan, had survived the incident.
Baines said: 'I'd dedicate it to them definitely, but then it's hard to relate me scoring or the game in general with Hillsborough in some respects, because football pales into a certain level of insignificance when you compare the two.
'But I thought what we did at the start of the game was a nice touch and hopefully now people can start to move forward, and perhaps get some of the closure that they need.'
Rival support: Manchester United boss Sir Alex Ferguson (right) and Mike Phelan were at the game
manager David Moyes expressed his support for the victims’ families in
the form of strongly-worded, yet emotive, programme notes.
Moyes said: 'I, and everybody
at Everton, stand alongside the families who have challenged the
authorities over what has been proved a travesty.
‘I'm a football manager, a supporter
and a father, and I applauded the families who continued to fight for
the ones they loved. I believe everybody in the world of football will
have been shocked by the wrongdoings surrounding Hillsborough which were
exposed last week.
‘As part of the football family, I,
and everybody at Everton, stand alongside the families who for so long
have challenged the authorities over what has now been proved a
travesty. I am not only a football manager, I'm a football supporter and
a father, and I applaud the families who continued to fight for the
ones they loved.
Joint effort: Everyone in the stadium applauded before the game began
outcome was nothing short of disgraceful. We have all been brought up to
believe and trust in authority. The authorities who were responsible
for ensuring the safety of supporters that afternoon let themselves
down, as have the government parties who have been in power since.
‘Praise must go to Andy Burnham and the families for getting disclosure.'
Liverpool managing director Ian Ayre
said: 'I would like to extend a heartfelt thank-you to all the staff and
fans at Everton Football Club from everyone at Liverpool for the
display of support you have shown the Hillsborough families tonight.
'We’ve always been great rivals on
the pitch but off it, the two clubs have always supported each other. In
the immediate aftermath of the disaster, Everton Football Club was
there for us and that solidarity was on display again last week when the
Hillsborough Independent Panel’s findings were revealed.
Revelations: Last week it became known that the police had attempted to incorrectly blame fans for the incident
Them too: Newcastle's players joined in before the match
'At times like this, football
rivalries take a back seat – something that makes this city unique and I
think supporters of both clubs can be immensely proud of the way they
have conducted themselves over the past days, weeks and years since the
Last week, an independent panel
revealed that the police had attempted to blame the fans inside the
stadium for the tragedy, which cost 96 lives and changed the landscape
of football forever.
For everyone to see: Fans were proud to be associated with banners more commonly seen at Anfield