I remember the Liverpool fans returning home on the day of the Hillsborough disaster, travelling past where we used to live. Not that I was out there watching, but there was this horrible awareness of what had just happened.
Today it’s exactly 28 years since 96 people died at Hillsborough, and football crazy Alan Gibbons has written a book for Barrington Stoke about that day, as well as some other football disasters and soccer related incidents.
If this sounds dismal; it isn’t. Alan tells the short story of young [black] football fan Lennie who’s come to Manchester to see his beloved Liverpool play United, with his dad and grandad, when there is an altercation between the two teams’ fans, over Hillsborough and Munich.
Alan provides brief but full information about what happened, and why, as well as listing a few other football facts. He doesn’t mince words over the actions of the police or his hatred of The Sun newspaper.
Lennie learns that you must behave fairly and decently even if provoked, and why. His dad and grandad were at Hillsborough that day, and Lennie’s grandad has memories of what it was like to be black in Liverpool in the 1960s, when you couldn’t really go to soccer games.
Finally, Lennie is forced to come face-to-face with some real Man United fans, and discovers they are also people and perfectly normal. Sometimes even better at football…
(Illustrations by Chris Chalik)