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Tuesday, September 18, 2012
Everton thanked for Hillsborough tributes

Mike Whalley

Liverpool's managing director Ian Ayre has expressed his gratitude to city neighbours Everton for their tributes to those who died in the Hillsborough disaster before Monday night's Premier League game against Newcastle.

Everton made a series of gestures at Goodison Park in memory of the 96 Liverpool fans who lost their lives at the 1989 FA Cup semi-final against Nottingham Forest.

Last week, the Hillsborough Independent Panel published a report that made it clear Liverpool fans had been in no way to blame for the tragedy and exposed a huge police cover-up.

Everton were led out by two mascots, one wearing a blue Everton shirt with a number nine on the back, the other a Liverpool top bearing the number six. They stood side by side to display the number 96, and Everton's ball boys also wore tracksuits with the number 96 on the back.

Before kick-off, there was a minute's applause and a montage of photographs of the victims was shown on screens as the public address system played The Hollies' song He Ain't Heavy, He's My Brother.

Margaret Aspinall and Trevor Hicks, of the Hillsborough Family Support Group, attended the game as guests of Everton chairman Bill Kenwright.

Ayre told Liverpool's website: "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.

"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.

"At times like this, football rivalries take a back seat - something that makes this city unique. 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 tragedy."

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