A Preston born author has written a book about his experiences of playing football with prisoner teams in the 1990s.Advertisement
Jamie Grundy will host a book talk on ’90 Minutes of Freedom’ at the Larder Cafe in Lancaster Road on Wednesday 19 February.
With a foreword by Neville Southall (the former Everton and Wales international goalkeeper) the book explains what it’s like to play for your local team on a Saturday with your mates. Except your local team is a prisoner football team and you and your mates are all serving prisoners.
Jamie, a footballer and writer with an interest in sport and criminal justice, set about writing 90 Minutes of Freedom after spending Saturday afternoons and training sessions with the serving prisoners who played for HMP Prescoed FC during the 2018/19 season.
The book includes candid and frank interviews with the team players, whose names have been changed to protect their identities.
‘Tom’, a prisoner serving a seven year sentence, said: “All your freedom is taken away, but football, they can’t really take that away from you.”
Jamie says: “It didn’t matter who I was or what the men had done previously, we were all in this together. Every goal and every win was celebrated with them. As much as I could be, I was part of the team.”
“The hopes of the men who play are like all prisoners at the end of their sentence. They want a future when they get out: to see their children, to get a job, to not go back to jail.”
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The names of the players had to be changed as they are prisoners, so their pseudonyms are all taken from the 2015 PNE League One Play Off winning team. Their individual stories explain how football helped them to control their behaviour and develop anger management skills.
They follow the rules of the prison, the instructions of the PE staff and the laws of the game if they want to play on a Saturday.
Jamie added: “For many of the players being a part of a team was the first time in their lives they’d ever had to think about working with others.
“Football gave them a glimpse of their life before jail; a return to normality; a kick about with friends; plus the desire to get out of jail and play football with their kids. It helped with the stress of coping with prison life where, because of your crime, you are taken away from everything you previously cared about.
“But for those ninety minutes, the men feel like they are not in prison anymore. Football was more than just a game to these players.
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The book talk takes place at The Larder at 7pm on Wednesday 19 February. You can get your free tickets here.
Will you be attending the talk this week? Let us know in the comments.