Matthew Siddle seemed destined to become a professional footballer.
His earliest memories were of practising with a ball outside his home, and by the age of eight he was moved up from a lower year at school to play for the senior team. Before long he was playing for amateur teams, with the ambition to one day play professionally for Liverpool.
“Scoring a goal was an amazing feeling. Seeing the net of the goal bulge and hearing your teammates cheer behind you was a great sensation. Your goal rewarded the efforts of the entire team so everyone was happy with you, especially if you’d scored a really crucial goal in a critical game. It was one of the happiest times of my life.”
However, Matthew’s destiny takes a different turn when he finds himself at the heart of the Hillsborough disaster, struggling for his own survival and seeing the injuries and deaths of fellow football supporters first hand. The trauma of the event has severe consequences, turning Matthew’s dream of becoming a professional footballer into a delusion. Soon he finds himself in hospital, fighting for his emotional and physical freedom…
Matthew Siddle, a skilled footballer, found himself at the heart of the Hillsborough football disaster of April 1989. As a result of this traumatic experience, he began to suffer with a psychiatric delusion: that he was destined to play for Liverpool Football Club and give all his wages to the Hillsborough Support Campaign. Now aged forty-three, Matthew Siddle has been in and out of psychiatric hospitals and mental health respite beds throughout his adult life.
Matthew worked as a journalist in the 1990s after taking a Postgraduate Degree in Newspaper Journalism at Sheffield College. He also later worked as a mental health support worker at the same hospital he’d been a patient at many times. However, his illness made it difficult to hold down a job for any length of time.
Bouts of unemployment and failed relationships knocked his confidence and he turned to alcohol for a season. He lacked hope for the future and felt lost in the world. Then, on Easter Sunday in 2007, he had a dramatic ‘Road to Damascus’ experience. Jesus came into his life and opened his eyes to a truth he’d been running away from for so long. He discovered God’s love and the chance of a brand new start.
Matthew’s newfound faith helped in his recovery, ultimately leading to sharing his story through this book. The success of the Hillsborough families’ Justice for the 96 campaign also inspired him to write about his experiences and encourage others who feel like giving up on life.