And the Sun Shines Now by Adrian Tempany
In April 1989, a teenager called Adrian Tempany went to watch Liverpool play an FA cup semi-final at Hillsborough. He nearly didn’t return: caught in the crush (“I could move my eyes, my mouth and my head, and no more”), he was losing consciousness when police finally opened a gate. Nearly three decades on, Tempany has written a book that is both a reflection on the “worst disaster in British sporting history” and a critique of the society it helped create, said Dominic Sandbrook in The Sunday Times. Tempany argues that Hillsborough gave the game’s authorities, and the broadcasters, a chance to “rebuild the national game – and not for the better”. Because, as they saw it, the fans weren’t to be trusted, they felt justified in turning the sport from “workingman’s ballet” into “billionaires’ plaything”. It’s a book written with “blistering passion”, and few fans would seriously dispute the basic truth of this argument. Even so, Tempany’s “relentlessly strident tone” can be off-putting: “it is a bit like sitting next to a fan who starts shouting at the referee as soon as the game kicks off and is still at it deep into injury time”.
It may be sprawling and congested at times, but this book’s insights are important, said Andy Beckett in The Guardian. Tempany captures, for instance, the “horrible irony” that, after the Murdoch-owned Sun newspaper blamed Liverpool fans for the tragedy, it was another Murdoch-owned business – BSkyB – which gleefully capitalised on the commercial opportunities created in the ensuing shake-up, securing highly lucrative broadcast rights to the newly formed Premier League. He also convincingly argues that Germany, whose football is less nakedly commercial than England’s, gives fans a far more rewarding experience. This ambitious, energetic and “well-informed” book is a “brave” attempt to engage with the beautiful game’s complexities.