Jordan Henderson has outlined why he believes the Merseyside derby holds a special status because of the local causes that unite both Liverpool and Everton.
Writing in ‘This is Anfield’ ahead of today’s game, the captain said: “I think one of the special things about the Merseyside rivalry is that both clubs have causes and issues that bring them together. Supporting the victims, families and survivors of Hillsborough is often the most referenced.
“Everton, as a club, have always shown incredible solidarity on this important topic and made it about far more than a football rivalry.
“There is another area where both clubs are very much together and that is Alder Hey Children’s Hospital. It’s that time of year again when as an entire team we go and visit the children, parents and staff at Alder Hey.
“Our team visit is early next week and I know Everton have their date already scheduled in as well. Visiting the hospital is a privilege for us, as football players. We recognise what an honour it is to be invited and hosted by people doing the most important work imaginable. It’s a time when those of us who are extremely fortunate in our lives can offer some support and hopefully a little relief to kids and families having a really difficult time of it.
“It’s also an occasion that helps bring a lot of perspective. You realise real courage and bravery happens in places like Alder Hey, not on a football pitch. The staff there, be it doctors, nurses, porters, admin staff and volunteers, are some of the most incredible people you could ever come into contact with. But what always blows me away is how much appreciation they show to us, when we visit.
“I’m sure the Everton lads will testify to this as well, but I reckon at least 90 per cent of the staff there support one of the clubs. I can’t ever remember meeting someone at Alder Hey who hasn’t introduced themselves as either a Red or a Blue – or even if they’re not a football supporter they’ll tell you immediately which side of Stanley Park their family visits on a matchday. That always hammers home just how important it is that we, as the current players, continue to come and offer support, no matter how small or inconsequential it feels in the grand scheme of things.
“It’s only when you move to this city that you realise just how important Alder Hey is to the people who live here. Regardless of football allegiances, it’s a topic that brings everyone together. Everyone here is proud to have arguably one of the best-run children’s hospitals anywhere in the world.
“I know Steven Gerrard, Jamie Carragher, Wayne Rooney and Leighton Baines are all patrons and have done amazing work helping to promote Alder Hey and that all of them offer support beyond the annual Christmas visit. All those lads are local and therefore have it ingrained in them that it's one of Liverpool’s biggest sources of collective pride.
“Those of us who move to Liverpool, rather than being born-and-bred here, only have to visit once to understand where that pride comes from.”
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