I started writing a new book the other day, whilst sat at Gatwick Airport. I won’t bore you with what it’s about, but the prologue is below. It’s a first stab, obviously, but take a look if you’re interested…..cheers.
There’s a roar as the crowd surges over the barriers, scattering the players to the four corners of the pitch and the safety of the dressing rooms.
“Right, that’s it. We’re off lads.”
We groan quietly, know better than to argue with the big man. He’s not our dad, but he rules us anyway. For this week at least.
We scamper down the aisle behind him, and feed into the well at the bottom of the stand. The exit is thirty paces ahead.
There’s another roar and I presume they’ve reached the away fans, goading them onto the pitch to dance. But the roar is so loud that I turn to look and see them being driven back towards us by police on horses. They are close, too close.
Hooves and feet churn up the pitch, and the big man tells us to get a wriggle on.
He doesn’t look back as he says it, his eyes on the terraced streets beyond the ground.
My feet forget to move. I’m entranced by the noise, anger and chaos of the wave surging at me.
It doesn’t hurt when it swallows me up, but I’m scared all the same, as instead of carrying me with them, they force me ground-wards, towards work-boots and scuffed adidas trainers. They make contact with my body. Now it hurts.
The away fans are following the police. I know this because I hear the missiles cut through the air, feel the shards of glass shower me like deadly confetti.
I shout for the big man but he doesn’t hear me. It wouldn’t make any difference if he did. His local is by the stadium and he won’t break stride when he’s so close. I feel boots on top of me now, have no option but to curl up on the floor and hope the tide passes quickly.
They don’t know what they’re walking on, or I hope they don’t. Some of them must have kids too, at home watching the final scores roll in. I can’t help but wish I was there too.
I’m giving up as they drive me further into the tarmac. I’ve no air left in my lungs, no room to scrabble to safety.
As my eyes close I hear a different noise. A single voice straining against them, moving them aside. The voice is struggling to be heard, but it’s getting louder, more determined. Its language is coarse, threatening, and somehow it’s working.
It’s been dark on the floor, but I glimpse a shaft of light, two arms reaching down and sweeping me skywards.
At first I think it’s game over, that I’m in the arms of an angel, but then the angel swears and swings his free arm, parting the crowd as we stumble to it’s edges.
The relief is huge, too big, and I black out, opening my eyes only when the crowd has thinned and the stadium a mile behind us.
I wrap my arms around the angel and begin to cry. He tells me to stop it, that everything’s fine. That’ll he buy me a choc-ice if I give over. I stifle the tears and he strokes my back as our road veers into view.
My name is Sonny McGann. I’m nine years old on this day. Old enough to stop crying, but young enough to put my head on my brothers shoulder and let him carry me home.