The Hillsborough disaster happened on the opening day of the 1989 World Championship across the city from the Crucible at the home of Sheffield Wednesday.

The tragedy unfolded live on the BBC's Grandstand, which should have been showing the snooker.

John Parrott, an Everton fan, would wear a black arm band during his emotional first round victory over Steve James.

The BBC's snooker correspondent at the time was Alan Green, now radio's best known commentator. He was at the FA Cup semi-final between Liverpool and Nottingham Forest that afternoon, April 15, in which 96 fans lost their lives.

He writes in his book, The Green Line, of coming back to the Crucible that night:

"In a daze, I walked along the familiar corridor, past the dressing rooms, the press canteen, towards the press room itself. Within a couple of yards of the entrance, I bumped into Steve Acteson [formerly snooker correspondent of The Times]. He didn't say anything. He looked into my eyes. Everyone there knew what had happened and they were anxiously awaiting my arrival, not knowing what to expect.

"Steve was, and remains, a very good friend. I broke down, collapsing into his arms. He dragged me into the gents' toilets where I sobbed incontrollably. In came Tony Knowles.

"He was yet to play his first round match and though he'd heard of the tragedy at Hillsborough, he didn't know that I'd been there. Steve told him, and Tony forgot about his match. He was only concerned for my welfare.

"That evening, I was comforted by the support of colleagues who were also good friends, people like Steve, Clive Everton and Janice Hale [formerly of Snooker Scene].

"The snooker went on around me but I was obvlivious to it. Writers and broadcasters, most of whom were dear friends, approached me frequently but warily. Was I all right? Could they do anything to help? Could they get me another drink?

"I drank a lot that evening and deep into the night, enough alcohol to have seen me pass out. Somehow, I didn't. No amount could make me forget, erase the hurt.

"Knowles finished his match [two days later]. He lost and, unless there's a specific request otherwise, only winning players are expected to face the media afterwards.

"Tony was well beaten and must have wished for the comfort of Bolton. Yet he came to the press room to seek me out. How was I? We talked for a few minutes and it was a gesture that I will never forget.

"It was typical of the snooker scene that I loved and still miss."


wildhoney said...

RIP for 96.

Anonymous said...

you'll never walk alone

Marcus Stead said...

I often find myself strongly disagreeing with Alan Green, but I found reading that account deeply moving.

I know that Alan's colleague at Hillsborough that day, Peter Jones, was deeply affected by what he saw, and never really recovered before his untimely death a year later.

This story shows the snooker scene at its best, and all those who tried to help him through the turmoil deserve credit.

My thoughts are with everyone who died, the families, friends and those traumatised by what they experienced on that terrible day.

Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

LOL @ The Link

Claus Christensen said...

Yes... silly link. Curiosity got the better of me as well.

Nice excerpt about Tony Knowles. It must be hard to concentrate on snooker after a tragedy like that.