Make no mistake about it, I am proud of the work my father and grandfather did their entire lives –working down the pits. Their hoying of the black stuff out of the earth is what put food on the table and clothes on our backs. With the support of a good woman - my mum - my parents were able to raise two boys and leave us wanting for nothing.
But my brother and I have no idea what it must have been like to be a coal miner: our romantic imaginings of the working lives of the Davy Lamp lads are just that, but for men like my dad and his dad, it was all-consuming. Men worked together, played together, drank together and fought one another, before heading back down the shaft to do their bit for the nation’s power supply. We as kids were indoctrinated in the values of community. Our holidays were to caravan parks where everyone from your village would follow suit. Whole streets would end up in Skegness, Scarborough, Whitby et al for a week of lazy afternoons in the amusement arcades and raucous sing-songs in smoke-filled tap rooms. It doesn’t alarm me that toothless old ladies play bingo for meat, despite not having the means to masticate upon it if they win. I’m not perturbed by men in flat-caps trying to flog pheasants, rabbits and anything else they can lay their hands on out of the back of their cars. To me that’s all part of growing up in a working class community. But 30 years ago today, the calling of the National Miners’ Strike marked the moment that, as we look back now, would mean none of the above would ever be the same again. Your Star has produced 12 pages of insight that examines the 52-week dispute in detail, but also to acknowledge how we’ve moved on. And there’s perhaps no more fitting a tribute to progress than Sheffield being able to point to the Advanced Manufacturing and Research Centre - on the site of the Battle of Orgreave. But for many, life was just better back then.