The First Time You Faced Danger and Were Truly Scared (Assignment piece)

It is a bright and sunny day in Sheffield. My father and I have travelled two hours this morning to attend the Liverpool verses Nottingham Forest semi-final game at Hillsborough stadium. We have just sat down and are waiting for the game to start; the atmosphere is overwhelming. I am hoping for a win like last year. My father said it was one of the best games he had ever seen when he attended, and I have been begging him for a long time to be allowed to join him to watch this one. My mother says I am too young but father says I have to become a man soon and that only happens after you have been to your first real football match. Finally mother gave in and I got a ticket for my tenth birthday.

The grounds are filling up quickly and as I look around I see one side of the pitch is a sea of white shirts and the other side red; matching my own. Another present I received for my birthday which is worn proudly today. It is a tight squeeze due to all the people around me, my shoulder is brushing against a stranger on my right hand side and I accidently kick my lemonade over so it spills on the ground when someone falls into me. I chant at the top of my lungs like everybody else. The sound is incredible and so is the smell of the pies that are being sold a few steps from where I am sitting.

The players walk onto the pitch and the crowd roars. My ears feel like they are about to burst from the noise created by so many people in such a small area. My father grins from ear to ear and looks down, he is proud to have his only son at this football match with him.

‘Just wait until you hear how wild the crowd will go when we win, my boy. Now that’s a thing of beauty’ he laughs taking my hands away from my ears.

The game begins promptly at three o’clock when the ball is put into play. My father was right, the noise is immense. I begin to focus my attention to the match but the heat begins to bother me. The sun shines directly into the stadium and I have never been in such close proximity to so many people at one time. My hair sticks to my forehead and a tall man stands in front of me so I can no longer see the pitch. I am the smallest in this section of the crowd.

Suddenly something changes. There is a panic in the air as the stadium continues to fill up even though there is no more room to hold anyone else. My father has not noticed yet, he is still smiling and cheering like many other people; oblivious to any problems. I am squashed in between two men twice my height and build and I am struggling to breathe. Someone screams over to my right and the game is brought to a stop as it has reached a dangerous stage. People are falling everywhere. I cannot breathe. My body feels like it is being crushed. My father is trying his best to hold me up now. A stranger falls beside me and there are people standing on him, trampling on him like a herd of elephants in a frenzy. His face is one of horror, an expression I shall never forget. People are too worried about their own safety to assist him to get up.

We are nearing the front of the stadium now, everyone is spilling out onto the pitch. Elbows are pushing into each other, a fight to escape first. I grip my father’s hand tightly and we manage to stick together through the full struggle until eventually, we are free. We move away from the crowd and I collapse to my knees. Tears are streaming down my face from the fear I felt and the relief I now feel knowing my father and myself are both safe from any harm.

Ninety Six people did not make it out and I could have been one of them. Ninety six people and one of them was the man we did not help, the one we could have tried harder to save. These thoughts will haunt me for the rest of my life. It is the first time I have ever been in danger like that and I hope I never have to repeat an experience like that again. Time marches on but I will always remember.

Reflective piece-

The idea of the story is one inspired by a time I personally felt in danger

I was in a crowd that was over packed and I began to fear for my safety. However, I wanted to place this story in a prominent place and time and so it is based on true historical events that happened at Hillsborough stadium in 1989 and are still discussed today.[1] I aimed to keep many of the details as close to the truth as possible for example, the time of day, the weather and the death count after the event and so I researched the events from news articles to receive these details.[2] However, I struggled at times. It is completely different from anything I have written before and I was trying hard not to cross the line of creating a fantastical story about a tragic event.

The only way I felt comfortable writing this piece was to allow the reader to be able to feel the fear and panic this young boy is experiencing, to be involved emotionally. The senses are extremely important in achieving this. As stated by Anna Garry in the Creative Writing Coursebook ‘good fiction is based on the effective use of the senses… [it] gives a reader a fundamental link to a writer’s work. Allowing the reader to feel and experience the fictional situation.’[3] Which was the main aim of my writing. As stated by Paul Magrs in The Creative Writing Coursebook ‘the first- person narrator is someone we can listen to and be carried along by. They do our seeing, touching listening feeling and smelling for us.’[4] Therefore, linking these two theories together first person narrative seemed the obvious choice.

[1] ‘Truth but not yet justice; The Hillsbrough report’ (New York: The Economist, 2012)

[2] ‘Hillsborough disaster and its aftermath’ (England: BBC News, 2012)

[3] Anna Garry, The Creative Writing Coursebook, (London: Macmillan, 2001) p.85

[4] Paul Magrs, The Creative Writing Coursebook, (London: Macmillan, 2001) p.137

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