The highly anticipated Merseyside Kick Off at 12:30 pm on Saturday will pay tribute to little Violet-Grace Youens, who was mowed down and killed in St. Helens on Friday, March 24. Liverpool FC is hosting their favorite rivals, Everton FC on their home, Anfield Stadium. This match is the opening fixture of Round 30 of the English Premier League and marks the 288th time these two rivals face-off in the Merseyside derby.
Four-year-old Violet-Grace Youens, accompanied by her grandmother Angela French, was crossing Prescot Road when she was hit by a stolen Ford Fiesta. The driver of the vehicle, Aidan McAteer, sped away from the scene and reportedly fled the country. McAteer was later apprehended by police officials and subsequently charged with causing death due to reckless driving and vehicle theft. Another suspect who is believed to have conspired with McAteer is still on the run.
An employee at Anfield stadium, Jess McClearly, has appealed to fan who will be attending Saturday’s Liverpool FC vs. Everton FC match to initiate a minute of applause as a tribute to Violet-Grace. McCleary has asked for the applause to commence at the game’s four-minute mark.
“I thought with the Merseyside Derby it would be a perfect opportunity for us to show a unity of support and give the family the support they deserve. I would ask people to get behind the idea and support the family as it could be anyone’s son or daughter that this happened to.”
McClearly indicated that Violet-Grace’s father, Glenn, had called her to offer the family’s endorsement for the gesture of support.
“He said that both him and Rebecca were really thankful for the idea and it was going to help get the word out and find the guy still missing.”
On Thursday, St. Helens players showed their support for the memory of the youngster by wearing purple shirts with the number four and “Violet Grace” emblazoned on the back. The Saints will also pay tribute to Violet-Grace before the start of their home game in Huddersfield next week.
Liverpool FC currently holds the fourth spot on the League table which gives them a four-point lead ahead of Manchester United. If Liverpool FC wants to maintain their lead over the other teams, such as Chelsea and Tottenham, they will have to up the ante and make sure there aren’t any mistakes during the nine remaining matches. If Liverpool FC beat Everton FC on Saturday, it will bring them ever closer to that Champions League spot.
However, with an overall lead that dates back to the series, Everton FC won’t make it easy for Liverpool FC in what is expected to be a tense game. Goalkeeper for Everton FC challenged his team to break their Anfield curse to close the gap and produce gains on rival Liverpool FC.
“We need to kill them.”
Coach Ronald Koeman was adamant that past failures against their long-time rival need not hold them back. He said that he’d prefer that they focus on the present, rather than the Champions League.
“The past doesn’t matter. It doesn’t matter if people are talking about the Champions League or the Europa League – just focus on Saturday.”
With all eyes on Saturday’s fixture, the planned tribute to Violet-Grace Youens will likely receive the attention it deserves.
[Featured Image by Dave Thompson/AP Images]