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A Life Well Red


Worth reading 😎

Warning: contains football - lots of it - with equal amounts of family in this Liverpudlian memoir.

A Life Well Red is the autobiography of a passionate fan whose Liverpool-red blood courses through his veins. Jackson reminisces about childhood surrounded by fellow “redmen” family and neighbours in 1950-60s Liverpool: a time when a person’s birthplace dictated their lifelong football allegiances. Playing street kick-to-kick, Jackson imagined himself at Anfield (Liverpool Football Club’s home ground) as the “top scorer [who] never lost a match”.  


This native Liverpudlian measures time and life events through “football related markers” of his sixty-year direct involvement with Liverpool FC. Football enthusiasts who understand the terminology and implications of plays, rules and scoring will revel in the detail. For those who don’t, the relentless play-by-play descriptions can become tedious. The evolution of the code over the decades is fascinating: readers will inevitably make comparisons to codes in their own countries.


The conversational writing style, with its almost-audible intonation, draws the reader into the virtual living room of the author. The tongue-in-cheek humour, where Liverpool “entered the last quarter of an hour still needing a goal. Then, like Merseytravel buses, three arrived at once”, adds to this jovial familiarity.


Of particular strength and evocatively written are the tragic events: Brussels’ Heysel stadium disaster, Sheffield’s Hillsborough stadium disaster and – the greatest tragedy of all – the fatal stabbing of Jackson’s eldest child, Tom. The first-hand accounts offer a deeply personal perspective (and counter-perspective to the negative press surrounding these events). The author’s grief is palpable; painful to bear witness to. These events – particularly the latter – continue to shape the man as he is today: the strong love he shares with his wife and three children, founded on “the scouse psyche” which “trumpet[s] the cause of the downtrodden [against] bullying, unfairness and injustice in any form”, is evident.


The polished chapters surrounding Tom’s stabbing and death, written earlier than the rest of the book, would benefit from re-working: re-introduction to the author’s family, after having read about them for several hundred pages, takes the reader out of the narrative. Likewise, the many long asides throughout the book, placed inside brackets, would be better as part of the whole: they break the flow, as does some clumsy expression.


This memoir will appeal to those who appreciate the nuances of English football, as well as to anyone whose family features large in their life, especially if that family has suffered tragedy. Readers are guaranteed to come away with Liverpudlian friends in their hearts, to never walk alone.

Reviewed by

Proud to be the author of TWO published books! New release October 2021, in print and ebook form. My books feature my poetry and art, and depict my journey through depression and into wellness. I'd love to know what you think of my work: feel free to ask me questions or write a review.


About the author

Born in Liverpool in the UK in 1958. Married to Sandra since 1981, with whom he has lived in Congleton, Cheshire since 1987, bringing up their three children Tom, Dan and Liv. Retired mid-lockdown in August 2020, Les has put his spare time to (hopefully!) good use by starting to write. view profile

Published on March 19, 2021

Published by

80000 words

Contains mild explicit content ⚠️

Genre: Biographies & Memoirs

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