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This book is not just an examination of the state of football but an attempt by Tempany to work out what happened to him and to Britain – and more surprisingly, what we can do about it. The opportunity to re-evaluate Hillsborough, he says, might be an opportunity to re-evaluate the state of our nation. The effects of Hillsborough are felt well beyond the world of football. It has had a role to play in the creation of our risk-averse culture, in the transformation of childhood from the free-range, unsupervised playtime of my own day, to the managed, scheduled and branded world of playdates and activity camps. Hillsborough fired the starting pistol on the race to demonise the working class whose finishing line is austerity – an economic policy that is itself a kind of cover-up. Coverage of the disaster played a crucial role in the cementing of the country-supper chumocracy that runs Britain.
It begins with a graphic description of the disaster itself. Particularly uncomfortable reading for me as from the description he gives I was a only a few feet behind him as it happened. What follows is an excellently researched history of what resulted in terms of the commercialisation of the game, the ownership of the newly created premier league and the clubs themselves, and how that changed not only football and manifold aspects of working class culture but also the relationship between the media and Westminster.