A senior officer in charge of policing inside the stadium on the day of the Hillsborough disaster was in the same freemasons lodge as the former match commander, a court heard.
Ex superintendent Roger Greenwood, who ran on to the pitch to stop the match, was in the same lodge as former match commander superintendent Brian Mole.
Mr Mole was moved from his post to Barnsley less than three weeks before the fateful FA Cup semi final and replaced with the inexperienced David Duckenfield.
Giving evidence at the new inquests into the deaths of 96 Liverpool FC fans, Mr Mole’s ex wife Margaret Topley confirmed her former husband and Mr Mole were in the same freemasons lodge.
She told the jury Mr Greenwood had offered to come back from Barnsley to command the 1989 game but his offer was declined.
She said: “Mr Duckenfield rejected the offer and said he would do it himself.”
Mrs Topley said her husband eventually left the masons because he was ‘annoyed with people asking for favours’.
It has been alleged Mr Mole was removed from his post not for career development reasons but because of the fallout from a police prank.
But Mrs Topley told the jury her husband was happy to be transferred to Barnsley and was a popular police officer who had a leaving party when he left.
She said she was not aware of the prank - during which a probationary PC was blindfolded, handcuffed and led to believe he was being threatened with a gun.
Earlier Mr Greenwood told the jury he didn’t declare a major incident on the day of the disaster because he thought ’someone else’ would have made that decision.
He said as far as he was concerned, he ‘didn’t fail’ in his efforts on the day.
Mr Greenwood was asked by Stephen Simblet, on behalf of some of the bereaved families, if he’d failed to show leadership and deploy police resources.
Mr Greenwood said he didn’t accept that.
He also denied blaming the fans for what happened adding: “I have no wish whatsoever to try and blame. As far as I’m concerned, I didn’t fail. I wish that there was more that we could do. But I don’t accept your point at all.”