90 Minutes of Freedom
90 Minutes of Freedom tells the unique story of HMP Prescoed FC, the only prisoner football team in Wales.
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.
With a foreword by Welsh legend Neville Southall, 90 Minutes of Freedom 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 teamates are all serving prisoners.
Over a year in the making, Jamie spent every training session and every Saturday afternoon with the team sharing the highs and lows with this unique group of footballers. “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,” he explains.
A full season in the making, the book includes candid and frank interviews with each of the serving prisoners who played for HMP Prescoed FC during the 2018/19 season. “All your freedom is taken away, but football, they can’t really take that away from you,” explains ‘Tom’ serving a seven year sentence. 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.
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 is more than just a game to these players.
HMP Prescoed FC play in the Gwent Central League where they won the Division 2 title by 11 points and with a goal difference +90 better than their nearest rival! The season also saw them lose their first game in three years.
The book has been released to coincide with National Sports Heritage Day #NSHD2019 on 30 September.
Two book readings have been arranged on Friday 11 October 7-9pm at Le Pub, Newport and Wednesday 23 Oct 7-9pm at 10 Feet Tall, Cardiff.
Our Russell Todd will be hosting both evenings that will include a reading from the book, a Q+A and an opportunity to network with others working in football or the social economy. Tickets are free and further information is available through www.jamiegrundy.net.
About Jamie Grundy
Jamie is a footballer and writer with an interest in criminal justice, sport and rehabilitation. Originally from Preston, and now living in Cardiff, he has worked on numerous projects across each of the six welsh prisons and is a former football coach with Manchester United. 90 Minutes of Freedom is his first book.
Tel 07470 048820