Michael Shields: My life in prison
Oct 27 2008 by Greg O'Keeffe, Liverpool Echo
JAILED Liverpool fan Michael Shields remains locked in prison for a crime he insists he did not commit. In an exclusive Liverpool ECHO special Michael takes you behind the bars at Haverigg prison and shares his day-to-day routine. Greg O’Keeffe reports.
7.30am - Day begins. I have a quick wash and go down to breakfast in the canteen, usually some Weetabix or cornflakes. Everyone has to wear the same type of jeans in prison but we are allowed our own T-shirts. At least I can still wear my Liverpool top. Mum and dad got me the new grey away shirt when it came out.
8.30am - Classes start. I’m doing a course in bricklaying and another in joinery. Recently me and my mate made a big wooden dog kennel and I gave it to my mum and dad because they’ve been minding a dog.
It was funny watching my dad try and drag it away with him after a visit. It was huge.
11.30am to 1.15pm - Break. A chance to catch up with some of my mates and talk about the classes, what’s happening with the Premier league footy or our next visits. Sometimes there will be stuff to sort out in preparation for a visit and I’ll quickly get that done.
Then we get some lunch in the canteen. I’ll usually just have a sandwich and a drink.
1.15pm to 4.30pm - Back to class and more practical work. I was studying engineering on the railways before all this, so I’m all right training for proper hands-on trades like these. Hopefully there will always be jobs for brickies and joiners.
4.30pm to 5.30pm Some nights I’ll go to the gym then do some weights, but more often than not I’ll do some running.
We get to run in the exercise yard. We’ve worked out how many laps we need to do a five-mile run and me and some of the lads do that. Other times we do faster laps. One of the lads will time me and then he’ll have a go and I time him. It gets quite competitive.
I’m lucky to get on with all the lads. I’ve got no enemies in any of the prisons I’ve been in since I came back and I don’t feel intimidated.
Bulgaria was scary at times though. Everything was much harder because it was a different country and hardly anyone spoke much English.
5.30pm Time for my tea in the canteen. I’ve been trying to eat healthily because of the work I put into the gym. I might have something like fish or rice but I usually have a little bowl of ice cream after. I miss my mum’s bowls of scouse and her roast dinners.
When people come on visits they are allowed to buy you something from the shop. Once mum came and she’d bought me a bar of chocolate but the woman in the shop had said ‘he doesn’t like those, he likes these’ and gave her another bar. Mum said it was weird for her, being told by someone else what her own son likes.
It gets so, so boring but I try to do as much as I can to occupy my mind. I will keep the exercising up when I get out. That’s something positive I’ve got into.
Weekends are particularly hard because there are no classes. If I don’t get a visit they really drag.
That’s when the boredom hits home hard. I usually try and phone home every Saturday and speak to my dad before he goes to the game. Every time I wish I was there, going to Anfield with him.
I’ve got a TV in my cell so I can watch the footy whenever it’s on ITV, particularly when we’re in Europe, and I always watch Match of the Day.
I’ll try and listen to Liverpool games on the radio. You can’t get Radio Merseyside or City here obviously so I’ve got to hope they’re on Five Live. You can go in your mate’s cell and listen to it there.
I’ve done more reading since I’ve been in prison than I ever did before too. I’ll read anything about Liverpool FC and recently I got through Brian Reade’s book and Jamie Carragher's.
When I was in Garth prison I went to the library there and got out a book about Liverpool’s European cup win in Istanbul.
I was lying there reading it in my cell and got to a bit which mentioned about me getting arrested and then convicted for something I didn’t do. I was amazed. It was so weird that what happened is already going into books about the final.
I’m always grateful for the support I get. The one which meant a lot recently was when the Spirit of Shankly group did a night for me at the Devonshire hotel. They’ve been very supportive.
I’ve got people like Peter Hooton, Dave Kirby and the film producer Roy Boulter all rooting for me. Knowing that is a big boost.
I’ve been very interested in what’s happened at Anfield. Like every other Red I want the best for the club.
I’ve written more letters than I ever thought I would - and received some from all over the world. When I was first locked up I got a letter of support from a girl in Essex and I’ve been writing to her ever since.
8.30pm We’ve got to be back in our cells. I may watch TV for a while but not too long. Lights out is soon after.
My dad has always told me to just keep my head down and get on with it. In some ways I’ve done the hardest bit, which was being locked up over in Bulgaria after the trial.
I’ve done three-and-a-half years now and my dad and people who support me like Joe Anderson are always telling me there’s light at the end of the tunnel. http://www.liverpoolecho.co.uk/liverpoo