Hillsborough Play ‘97+’: Unveiling Untold Survivor Stories

A Moving Theatrical Journey

The tragic events of the Hillsborough disaster continue to reverberate through time, leaving an indelible mark on the lives of survivors. In this poignant play, we delve into the emotional aftermath, the fight for justice, and the resilience of those who carry the burden of that fateful day.

The Play’s Genesis: From Dissertation to Stage

  • Playwright and Director: Tom Cain
  • Co-Production: Tom Cain Theatre and Bill Elms Productions
  • Collaboration: Hillsborough Survivors Support Alliance


Set in 2012, “97+” follows the lives of two Hillsborough survivors, John and Steve. Now middle-aged men, they grapple with the trauma they endured as boys 23 years earlier. John, bottling up his emotions, suffers from night terrors, while Steve seeks solace in hospitals and vodka bottles. Yet their unwavering fight for justice persists.

The Hillsborough Transformational Recovery Model: A Beacon of Hope

  • Tom Cain meticulously researched and crafted this drama during his time at Edge Hill University.
  • The Hillsborough Survivors Support Alliance played a pivotal role, providing a therapeutic framework—the Hillsborough Transformational Recovery Model—to aid survivors in their healing journey.

Acclaim and Impact:

  • Shorter Versions: The play initially garnered acclaim as a 90-minute piece at Liverpool Theatre Festival’s Little LTF platform for new writing in 2022.
  • Critics and Audiences: Its sensitive yet hard-hitting narrative resonated with both critics and audiences.
  • Fundraising: Each performance contributed to the survivors’ charity.

From Edinburgh to Buxton: A Journey of Resilience

  • The play’s success led to its staging at the main Liverpool Theatre Festival in 2022.
  • It then traveled to Edinburgh and the Buxton Fringe Festival, reaching an international audience.
  • Money raised continued to support the survivors’ cause.

The Full-Length Premiere: Liverpool Olympia

  • On Friday, April 12, just ahead of the 35th anniversary of the tragedy, “97+” premieres at the Liverpool Olympia.
  • Returning actors include Colin Kilbride (John), Leslie Longley (Steve), Claudia Molyneux (Liz), and Alice McKillop (Nurse Nancy/Charlotte).
  • Julie McCabe joins as Sally, and Graham Padden takes on the role of Stuart.

A Grand Tribute:

  • Tom Cain reflects on the journey—from lockdown dissertation to international stages.
  • His personal connection as the grandson of a Hillsborough survivor infuses the play with authenticity.
  • The Liverpool Olympia provides an incredible venue for this powerful production.


“97+” transcends the stage; it’s a testament to resilience, empathy, and the unyielding pursuit of justice. As we witness the survivors’ stories unfold, we honor their courage and remember the 97 Liverpool fans who lost their lives. Let this play be a beacon of hope, a call for remembrance, and a tribute to the human spirit.

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