HIS name will be chanted by both sets of supporters before kick-off at Wembley today.
Liverpool and Everton will be united in their show of respect and admiration for the late Gary Ablett.
The former defender made a unique contribution to Merseyside football and his claim to fame of having lifted the FA Cup with both clubs is highly unlikely to ever be matched.
How fitting that the two clubs Gary served with such distinction should meet in the capital just a few months after his untimely death at the age of 46 following a long battle against non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma.
His widow Jacqueline and three children Scarlet, 16, Reece, 15, and Riley, 11, will be at Wembley today as guests of the Football Association.
It promises to be a hugely poignant occasion with the FA Cup semi-final also coming on the eve of the 23rd anniversary of the Hillsborough disaster.
The fact Gary is revered in equal measure by both Reds and Blues speaks volumes about the kind of man he was. Few have been accepted so readily having made the switch across Stanley Park
A promising coaching career was cruelly stopped in its tracks but the dignity and bravery he showed during his battle with illness inspired those around him.
Gary's autobiography ‘The Game Of My Life' is published this Monday by Trinity Sport Media. When he was completing his memoirs last December, he had considered the prospect of the clubs which meant so much to him facing each other at Wembley just days before its release.
“Gary was saying could you imagine what it would be like if the two teams met at Wembley, especially with the book due to be out,” said Jacqueline.
“We wish it had been the final, but it is like it was meant to be.
“There is so much support out there from people in football and it is quite overwhelming. I know we are still grieving, but the thought of people thinking about you is just lovely to know.
“Reece is a Liverpool fan and Riley an Evertonian, so someone will be pretty sad on the journey home.”
In the book Gary reflects on his memories of the last time the Reds and Blues met at Wembley in the FA Cup final of 1989, which was played just weeks after Hillsborough.
The Aigburth-born defender was outstanding in the Reds’ 3-2 victory.
“It was a hugely emotional day.” he said.
“ The sheer volume of fans who wanted to be there meant, sensibly, some were allowed to sit around the side of the pitch by the authorities.
“Nothing was going to stop us that day. We weren’t destined to win simply because of what had happened. Everton wanted victory badly themselves, so they weren’t going to roll over.
“Rushie reigned supreme against Everton aned invariably managed to have the last word.
“I would have loved to have done a proper lap of honour, even in the garish yellow and red bobble hat a supporter had thrown at me and I’d plonked on my head. But, with the fans having been let onto the running track around the pitch at Wembley, it wasn’t advisable.
“We had the usual post-Cup final party in a hotel in London afterwards. Some of the lads could drink all night, but not me. I was tucked up in bed by 1am with my medal on the bedside cabinet.”
Ablett’s legacy will live on with his family about to launch a foundation in his memory. The emblem will be a purple heart – mixing the colours red and blue.
Gary Ablett: “The Game of My Life” is released on Monday, published by Trinity Sport Media. You can buy online at: www.merseyshop.com