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by Matthew Gamble @efc_mattgamble

Everton and Liverpool will unite before Saturday's FA Cup semi-final in memory of the 96 fans who lost their lives at Hillsborough.

Ever since the tragedy occurred 23 years ago Evertonians and Liverpudlians have stood together.

So many families on Merseyside are made up of Blues and Reds and the FA Cup final between the two sides in 1989 - their last Wembley meeting - was an incredibly poignant affair which melded one city.

In the years that have followed Evertonians have stood beside their brothers, sisters, cousins, friends and colleagues as they continue to deal with the ongoing emotions of that infamous Saturday afternoon.

Labour MP Andy Burnham is an avid Everton supporter and has been vocal in refocusing the political spotlight on the Hillsborough disaster.

He told "Like many Evertonians, I'll never forget that moment when the terrible news from Hillsborough reached us at Villa Park. In the 23 years since, our club and its supporters have stood in total solidarity with the Hillsborough families and Liverpool supporters as they have fought for truth and justice - and we will again this Saturday. That makes me proud of Everton and all it represents."

John Traynor is a lifelong Evertonian and lost two brothers to the Hillsborough tragedy. He said  "This is such an important day for Merseyside and I hope the fans do our city credit."

Everton captain Phil Neville said earlier this week: "It's massively important that Everton play their part. It's a special time for the whole city to unite. To come together for a short period before the game is not a lot to ask.

"We are going to pay our respects to the Hillsborough victims and what better way to do that than the whole city being in London, 90,000 Everton and Liverpool fans in one stadium to unite."

And Walton MP and prominent Hillsborough campaigner Steve Rotherham added: "Football has a habit of throwing up emotional dates in your diary. This weekend it's thrown up two. Tomorrow the city will divide into Red and Blue as Liverpool and Everton battle it out for a pace in the ultimate football final.

"On Sunday, that rivalry will be forgotten as we pause to remember the 96 who never came home from their semi-final, almost a quarter of a century ago.

"On the eve of the 23rd anniversary of this national tragedy, the eyes of the world will be back on our great City. What the world will see is a Liverpool steadfast in our resilience, relentless in our endeavour and united in our remembrance. It is what the 96 deserve, and it is what makes me proud to be a scouser." 

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