This week we are proud to publish Alan Gibbons’ The Beautiful Game. This thoughtful and timely story of a football-mad family is interwoven with lots of facts about our national game. It’s a heartfelt tribute to football, honouring victims of Hillsborough and other disasters, and celebrating trailblazing black players.
There is an important section on the Hillsborough disaster, about which Alan says:
“Nobody who lives in Liverpool will forget where they were on 15 April 1989. It was a beautiful spring day. My wife Pauline called me in from the kitchen and together we stared at the TV screen. Liverpool and Nottingham Forest were playing an FA Cup semi-final match at Hillsborough in Sheffield and we had lots of friends there. We didn’t understand what was happening, but we knew something was very wrong.
It wasn’t long before we knew how wrong. Ultimately, ninety-six people died. To add insult to injury, the Sun newspaper printed a front page that made terrible, false accusations against our city. For the next twenty-seven years, the bereaved families and their supporters had to campaign relentlessly for justice. I was at Anfield when the then Home Secretary Andy Burnham agreed to the Inquiry which would finally get to the truth. I was there again at the commemoration the day before the families got the news they had waited so long to hear: the Liverpool fans had done nothing wrong and a senior police officer and others bore the responsibility for the tragedy.
This history left me with a number of feelings: that young football fans needed to know this history and the history of the poor treatment fans have endured over the years, the poor facilities we used to have, the racism that haunted the terraces. I felt I had to tell the true story of our beautiful game, that along with the dreams, the heroes, the exhilaration of the greatest sport on Earth, there were nightmares, there were injustices, there were shadows.
This is what motivated me to write the story of Lennie and his family. They stand for every football fan in my eyes, everyone I have stood with on the old terraces or sat with in the fine, new stadiums. They are the key to unlock young people’s understanding of the history of the beautiful game.”
Alan has dedicated The Beautiful Game ‘to all who fought so long and so hard for justice for the Hillsborough families. You’ll never walk alone’.
We also want to say thank you to Alan Gibbons, who has been writing books for us for many years. We, and our readers, are big fans of the way he interweaves action-packed fiction and facts especially for those who love football.