Not an easy read. The pages did not easily fold back on turning them over. The narrative was a bit specialist and depressing but a great job has been done by the author and I look forward to comparing his views (and facts) with the outcome of the current official enquiry. Will any punishments result? Maybe a bit of criticism and a few tardy recommendations but I shall be surprised if anyone is fined, or jailed.
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A Hillsborough Survivor Tackles Much More than Just the Disaster4 April 2015
- Published on Amazon.com
I have been fascinated with the Hillsborough Disaster since seeing ESPN’s 30 For 30 Documentary on Hillsborough in April 2014, so much so that I picked up this book from the publisher even before it was available through Amazon.
Author Adrian Tempany is a Liverpool fan who was caught in the crush inside Pen 3 at Hillsborough on April 15, 1989. The first two chapters of the book are as amazing as anything I have read about what it was like to be in the middle of the disaster. Tempany writes about a stack of bodies he believed to be alive simply falling over in a heap once the gates separating the pitch from the terraces were finally opened. He also writes about the stench of vomit, urine and excrement, and his entire body going numb from the crush of people inside the pens at Hillsborough.
But only the first two chapters and the final chapter are about the Hillsborough Disaster itself. In between, Tempany focuses on the many changes to English soccer in the quarter century since Hillsborough. The book is fascinating, but it is also a long and difficult read at places. The book is 396 pages without any pictures. At times, the book takes a left-wing political slant in the context of how the Thatcher administration viewed soccer fans in the 1980s, and the working class in general.
The book does go deep into a sociological examination of how English soccer has priced out working-class and lower middle class fans in the decades since Hillsborough. The book takes a harsh view of the emergence of the Premier League, skyrocketing ticket prices and television packages than mean viewers in Europe and the United States are more important to Premier League teams than the local supporters who identified with the clubs for generations.
At various places throughout the book, Tempany openly laments that everything was so much better when he grew up in the 1970s – soccer wise and economically. Tempany opines many times throughout the book of the loss of terraces in the upper levels of English soccer as a result of Hillsborough, even though the cause of Hillsborough was a stadium lacking the proper safety certification to handle so many fans in the Leppings Lane end of the stadium.
Tempany visits three clubs in Germany (FC Schalke 04, Hamburger SV and FC St. Pauli) and focuses a significant portion of the book to longingly describing the German model of club ownership, affordable ticket prices and terrace areas where supporters are still allowed to stand while watching games.
The week spent in Germany leaves Tempany disillusioned with the state of English soccer, the sky-high prices for Premier League tickets in England and wealthy foreign owners gobbling up England’s iconic clubs for use as rich men’s toys.
The book is a fascinating, albeit not an easy, read. Some of the political machinations in the book are a bit dry to plow through. But as an American, I learned so much about Hillsborough that I never knew before and how a native Brit feels that two decades of the Premier League has left fans like him behind for the sake of cultivating fans around the world. Tempany repeatedly makes the point that English clubs that used to be rooted in their local community are now nothing more than worldwide commodities not interested in whether or not local supporters can attend games