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Thread: Football Hooligans

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    Chairman of the bored Maister's avatar
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    Football Hooligans

    So what exactly ARE 'hooligans' and how/why did they come to be? Where are most hooligans located? And does God really smile upon Man' United (as opposed to Arsenal). Ignorant/inquiring Yanks would like to know.
    People will miss that it once meant something to be Southern or Midwestern. It doesn't mean much now, except for the climate. The question, “Where are you from?” doesn't lead to anything odd or interesting. They live somewhere near a Gap store, and what else do you need to know? - Garrison Keillor

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    wahey! great minds and that...

    right. football hooligans. Nothing new in them, football has always attracted violence since its inception way back in the midsts of time. One king or other tried to ban it after towns used to get ransacked as two huge teams (usually rival villages) tried to get a ball/pigs bladder to the oppositions goal post, usually a mile or so in distance apart.

    But hooligans as we know and love them (?!) trace their roots back to the 1960/70s. When exactly they came to be is open to debate, but a lot of the main hooligan gangs (or 'firms' or 'crews') became prominent as part of the skinhead culture/movement. Then it used to be a fairly disorganised affair, essentially you would try to take over a town by getting as many fans along as possible and then go around looking for opposition fans to have a scrap with. In the heydays these firms used to be 100s strong, and the larger firms, such as Man Utd, Chelsea, West Ham, Leeds could pull together 1000+ for big games.

    Some time later, probably the early 80s when these firms started to get organised they started adopting names, printing up business cards and distributing them on their travels. My team - Sheffield United - have a firm called the Blades Business Crew, or BBC for short (not really sure what the real BBC think of that!). Other groups affiliated with Sheffield Utd have been the Shoreham Republican Army and the Shoreham Bootboys (the Shoreham End being home to the most vociferous elements of Sheffield United support when they play at home).

    other (in)famous firms include:

    The Headhunters (Chelsea)
    Service Crew (Leeds)
    Inter City Firm (West Ham United)
    The Bushwhackers (Millwall)
    Cockney Reds (Manchester United - probably the only team in the country who have a significant hooligan element from outside the home town, in this instance London!)
    Hull City Psychos (Hull City)
    Zulu Army (Birmingham City)

    There are many many others. Some of the names of the firms have some stories behind them too. For example, West Ham's Inter City Firm got their name from their chosen form of transport, using the Inter City rail services to got to games (rather than the heavily policed 'football specials' services). Although I'm not sure how Bradford City's firm 'The Ointment' quite got their name... Almost every football team has had at one time a hooligan element attached to it.

    Nowadays it is very very rare for hooligan firms to turn out in numbers greater than 100, largely thanks to huge advances in matchday policing and also the particularly harsh punishments dealt out by the courts. But don't think its dying out. Its still there, the firms have adopted new tactics, usually operate in smaller numbers/groups (sometimes less than 20) and have moved the violence away from the football grounds. An couple of examples of this are highlighted, again, by the BBC.

    Two years ago we had a local derby game at home (Sheffield) against Leeds United. Leeds' Service Crew failed to meet for a prearranged scrap in Sheffield. Annoyed and spoling for a fight, some 30-40 BBC lads boarded a train and made the 30 mile journey to Leeds to find the Leeds' firm. It made the local papers after two groups found each other and had a huge fight in Leeds city centre. tactics like this are though still virtually unheard of.

    Also, we had a game in Cardiff. Lots of our firm travelled down to Bristol the day before (some 50 miles from Cardiff) for a bit of a boozing session. Bristol City's hooligans decided to come and make a nuisance of themselves and were promptly seen off by over 200 BBC lads as Bristol waterfront erupted into a large scale brawl. This incident made national news.

    There are many misrepresentations of hooligans in the media, they are often portrayed as meatheads, with no interest in the football, who just look for an excuse to fight, with no education or from deprived backgrounds. I can vouch for this being a whole load of bollocks. Having travelled to see my team for the last 10 years I have spoken to a number of hooligans and have got to know a small number. They are, by and large, massive fans of football, who can reel off at a moments notice every goalscorer of every goal for the last 5 seasons or longer. many of them have a good education - at least a handful I have spoken to have got degrees - and many of them hold down respectable jobs. They see the hooligan scene more as a release from the day-to-day drudgery, a buzz and an adrenaline rush on a par with extreme sports.

    Also, its very much about belonging to something. something a little out of the ordinary. Many members of a firm will not know each other outside a Saturday, but on that Saturday they are best buddies and will run through brick walls for their fellow hooligans.

    Anyway, I seem to have rambled on for far too long here! but its a subject I can talk about til the cows come home, I find it fascinating. And I was one of them for about 5 years. A responsible job and the threat of prison was enough to put me off.

    there are many many books out there on the subject, including 3 on the Blades Business Crew!

    Oh, and as for Man Utd, they've always been jammy!
    Last edited by HarryFossettsHat; 02 Mar 2007 at 11:54 AM.

  3. #3
    Cyburbian cmavis's avatar
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    The movie "Green Street Holigans" is about this. Good movie IMO.
    "Guess what? I got a fever! And the only prescription...is more cowbell!" - Bruce Dickinson

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    Quote Originally posted by cmavis View post
    The movie "Green Street Holigans" is about this. Good movie IMO.
    Possibly the poorest of hooligan films over the years. Its got a bleedin' hobbit in it...

    'The Football Factory' is a good representation of the scene. Not sure if it would have had a release in the US though as there were no big names in it particularly, its starred a cockney chap called Danny Dyer in the lead role and is based on a book of the same name about Chelsea's firm. If it did get a release it is well worth a look.

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    maudit anglais
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    Bill Buford's book Among the Thugs was a good read on the topic.

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    Quote Originally posted by HarryFossettsHat View post
    right. football hooligans.
    That was the post of the year!!!!!! What an excellent and thorough answer! I confess my impression of hooligans was that they were folks that were looking for an excuse to fight. That's how they're portrayed in the media here. Very interesting to learn that is not the case.
    Last edited by Maister; 02 Mar 2007 at 12:38 PM.
    People will miss that it once meant something to be Southern or Midwestern. It doesn't mean much now, except for the climate. The question, “Where are you from?” doesn't lead to anything odd or interesting. They live somewhere near a Gap store, and what else do you need to know? - Garrison Keillor

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    Cyburbian TOFB's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Maister View post
    That was the post of the year!!!!!!
    Totally agree keep em coming HFH!

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    Cyburbian hilldweller's avatar
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    Awesome post. The closer thing is have witnessed to hooliganism in the states were fights between red sox and yankee fans back in college.

    One thing I have always wondered was if there were any recogized "rules of engagement" for hooligan brawls or is it just a free-for-all?

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    Quote Originally posted by hilldweller View post
    Awesome post. The closer thing is have witnessed to hooliganism in the states were fights between red sox and yankee fans back in college.

    One thing I have always wondered was if there were any recogized "rules of engagement" for hooligan brawls or is it just a free-for-all?
    There is an unwritten code of conduct (who the hell would actually sit down and write one?!) around scrapping at the footy. There are basically three 'rules' that are adhered to by most firms:

    i) Don't attack 'shirters' or 'scarfers'. These are the fans that turn up in the team shirts or scarves. Hoolies are usually quite distinctly dressed, often in a lot of designer clobber from labels such as Stone Island, One True Saxon, Prada, Hugo Boss, Aquascutum, Burberry (although Burberry has become a bit of a running joke now - at one time when you were scrapping it was like fighting a giant, angry table cloth, it was like dogshit - i.e. it got everywhere), G-Star, North Face, Duck & Cover, Penguin by Munsingwear, Paul Smith and so on. Plus you can usually sense some kind of atmosphere if you come across another firm of hoolies.

    ii) If a fella from the opposition firm has been put on his arse and is out cold, you leave him alone. He's had enough already. Only cowardly shits kick a man who's down.

    iii) No weapons (or 'tools'). Knives are a big no-no. there have been in the past a number of firms that have got a reputation for carrying knives, the most well known being the scousers following Liverpool and Everton. Improvised weapons are almost expected though, so expect a barrage of beer bottles and pool balls if you attack a pub.

    Only very rarely are these rules abandoned in Britain, and thats usually local derbies where emotions and tempers are running high. Lots of old scores to settle and, of course, the bragging rights to be won. From personal experience the Sheffield derby between Sheffield United and Sheffield Wednesday can be a vicious affair. I guess local derbies aren't something the majority of Americans experience, given the huge distances involved!

    As for your first point, I heard that visiting the LA Raiders ground could be a bit hairy at times (but they've moved since then - is it the Oakland Raiders now?), and a mate who was in one of the Carolinas got caught up in a riot after some college basketball game! He said it was mental!

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    lot of trouble after the chelsea cup match yesterday. front page of the evening standard

    http://www.thisislondon.co.uk/news/a...tle/article.do

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    Cyburbian natski's avatar
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    Very interesting thread!

    Im suprised that no racial confrontations have come into play with English soccer hooliganism- i guess thats what we are kind of used to in Australia in regards to soccer (well we were, until they changed the leagues and got rid of the ethnic divide)

    and i guess Rugby League here has the same thing... is this not happening in the UK/ other parts of the world?
    "Have you ever wondered if there was more to life, other than being really, really, ridiculously good looking?" Zoolander

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    Cyburbia Administrator Dan's avatar
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    This is about as bad as it gets in Buffalo. (NSFW for language)

    Okay, maybe this too.

    The US has a reputation of being a violent society, but we Americans just don't do the hooligan thing.

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    Cyburbian hilldweller's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Dan View post
    This is about as bad as it gets in Buffalo. (NSFW for language)

    Okay, maybe this too.

    The US has a reputation of being a violent society, but we Americans just don't do the hooligan thing.
    Note to self: don't wear my Pats gear to any Pats-Bills games in Buffalo.

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    Cyburbian jresta's avatar
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    You can get "the Football Factory" here on dvd. My brother brought home a bootleg from Iraq - subtitled in Farsi but it was poor quality so i rented it . . . if you have an indie video shop near you i'm sure they'll have it and if they don't make them get it http://www.tlavideo.com/details/prod...19&sn=2301&v=1

    as far as fights go . . . you guys have never been to an Eagles or Giants home game. If you wear an opponents jersey to South Philly on game day, especially if it's a New York, Washington, or Dallas jersey (and lately Atlanta as well) you stand a 50/50 chance of getting your a** kicked, especially if the Eagles lose. It's much the same in the Meadowlands but not as bad as here.

    Veterans Stadium was so bad with fights that they built a special courtroom in the basement just for game days so people could be prosecuted on the spot.

    Flyers games can get ugly too with lots of fights in the stands especially if it's Devils or Islanders fans in the stands. I've also seen fights between Mets and Phillies fans although it's not nearly as common as at hockey or football games.

    And while none of it is "organized" I can't say that a lot of Eagles fans, who can't afford tickets or who just can't get in because it's sold it, don't tailgate and get drunk with every intention of finding a fight.

    Sharon Udasin | Eagles and violence: a pair for life
    Eagles fans can't seem to resist getting into fights, while fans around the country are usually able to avoid violence
    http://media.www.dailypennsylvanian....-2304971.shtml

    A good entry for Hooliganism
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hooliganism

    And the absolute best for last - Brit transplant Steven Wells writes for the Guardian on american football violence
    http://football.guardian.co.uk/comme...660884,00.html
    Indeed you can usually tell when the concepts of democracy and citizenship are weakening. There is an increase in the role of charity and in the worship of volunteerism. These represent the élite citizen's imitation of noblesse oblige; that is, of pretending to be aristocrats or oligarchs, as opposed to being citizens.

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    Cyburbia Administrator Dan's avatar
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    Off-topic:
    For some reason, this thread is showing up high in Google searches for football hooligan-related terms. If any visitors are planners, why not join Cyburbia?

    From a Photoshop contest a few years ago, where we made new covers for planning publications:




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    Westhamfordshire-on-the-Ancasterdalewick sounds like a lovely little hamlet!

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    Cyburbia Administrator Dan's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by HarryFossettsHat View post
    Westhamfordshire-on-the-Ancasterdalewick sounds like a lovely little hamlet!
    Off-topic:
    It's also pronounced as "Chumly"

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    Tennis Hooligans

    Tennis hooligans? Now I've heard everything!

    http://thelede.blogs.nytimes.com/200...nis-hooligans/

    I always thought tennis fans drove BMW's and shopped at Sak's Fifth Avenue.

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    Quote Originally posted by Dan View post
    The US has a reputation of being a violent society, but we Americans just don't do the hooligan thing.
    Except in Philly...
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    Cyburbian DetroitPlanner's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Mastiff View post
    Except in Philly...
    We also had a Hooligan issue in Detroit in 1984 we've never been able to shake off. I was witness to that night @ Michigan and Trumbull, learned how effective cops on horses can be with crowd control. At the end of the 9th an inter-city bus was in the middle of the action. I can still remember the poor Greyhound bus being shaken (not stirred) and the mess left when it was discovered the driver did not bother to lock the storage area (clothes everywhere!) The expression on the poor bus riders faces to be stuck in that crowd was amazing. Funny thing is you hear about rowdy fans in places like Chicago, Boston, even Ann Arbor ripping the towns apart but those towns are covered with teflon.
    We hope for better things; it will arise from the ashes - Fr Gabriel Richard 1805

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    Quote Originally posted by Maister View post
    Tennis hooligans? Now I've heard everything!

    http://thelede.blogs.nytimes.com/200...nis-hooligans/

    I always thought tennis fans drove BMW's and shopped at Sak's Fifth Avenue.
    I'd suggest that this example of hooliganism is essentially hatred for another country - which in the case of the former Yugoslavian countries (as this incident is), is probably well-founded. I wouldn't call it hooliganism like that associated with football.

    From what I can make out, the Serbs, Bosnians and Croats use any excuse to have a pop at each other in Australia.

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    Cyburbian Planit's avatar
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    I remember being in SW London about 15 years ago. We turned a corner and saw alot of bobbies standing around near a tube stop. I asked one what was this all about. He told me the Chelsea game was about to let out so I better hurry on. Then I heard the crowd singing at Stamford Bridge. We quickly went down and hopped on the tube before the crowd showed up. I did not want to receive a 'Chelsea Smile'
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