The hooligan problem and the football violence that just won't go away.
August 22, 2010 7:10 AM   Subscribe

The hooligan problem and the football violence that just won't go away.

They hunt in packs, fuelled by cocaine, hooked on violence and occasionally wielding chains. Some are as old as 65. They use mobile phones and the internet to arrange showdowns with rival "firms" at agreed locations away from prying CCTV cameras and police surveillance. This is the profile of the 21st-century football hooligan, a breed of "fan" who, although decreasing in numbers and visibility, is recognised by the football authorities and police as never having gone away.
posted by modernnomad (36 comments total) 6 users marked this as a favorite

 
That first line freaks me out - They hunt in packs, fuelled by cocaine, hooked on violence and occasionally wielding chains. Some are as old as 65.

Are there really violent cocaine-fuelled 65 year-olds wielding chains?

On the other hand, it gives me something to look forward to during my retirement.
posted by twoleftfeet at 7:24 AM on August 22, 2010 [15 favorites]


A few context links - one, oddly, the first time I've ever linked to a Daily Mail article without sneering:

1) A history of something more than hooliganism: the hooligan firm UK Casuals United

2) The English Defence League in action.

3) A little example of why this matters to Americans.
posted by cromagnon at 7:39 AM on August 22, 2010 [2 favorites]


Are there really violent cocaine-fuelled 65 year-olds wielding chains?

They are the sorts of people about whom the tattoo to tooth ratio was coined: "withered, rapidly aged men with a great many tattoos and adentitious mouths. They are known for their cockroach-like ability to survive astonishing systemic insults and major trauma."
posted by Coobeastie at 7:50 AM on August 22, 2010 [4 favorites]


Are there really violent cocaine-fuelled 65 year-olds wielding chains?

Evidently Hell's Grannies are a real problem in Notlob, er, I mean Bolton.
posted by TedW at 7:51 AM on August 22, 2010


I would hate to be a dustbin in Shafsbry tonight.

...Sorry, it does sound like a serious problem here.
posted by SomeOneElse at 7:58 AM on August 22, 2010 [1 favorite]


Somehow the violent hooligan problem very often seems to be linked to right wing groups.

This also happened in Russia recently: Ultrarights fans attacked the fans of the anti-fascist FC Karelia-Discovery "right during the match, and in the Ukraine, where a mob of 50 nazi-hools attacked 30 left leaning fans, stabbing a young antifascist and puncturing his lung ...
or here in east germany where a big mob attacked left leaning fans of Roter Stern Leipzig in Brandis with iron bats, severely injuring three of them (german tv report).
posted by ts;dr at 8:09 AM on August 22, 2010


Sorry cromagnon, you are right that I could have provided a bit more context -- for those unaware, while not always one and the same, there is a definite overlap between elements of extremist far-right groups in the UK and football hooligans.
posted by modernnomad at 8:09 AM on August 22, 2010


No sorry required or expected! It's a nice link - it would be a shame if people thought it was just another expression of Britain's booze culture when it's something so much more pernicious.
posted by cromagnon at 9:10 AM on August 22, 2010


So what's being done to address this?
posted by mattholomew at 9:11 AM on August 22, 2010


Time to ban football.
posted by BaxterG4 at 9:21 AM on August 22, 2010


Let's not forget that football hooliganism has moved beyond its humble British roots. Seems like everybody who has a football team has a hooligan firm. Even Frodo got in on the action.
posted by Pirate-Bartender-Zombie-Monkey at 9:34 AM on August 22, 2010 [1 favorite]


I was at Emirates stadium yesterday for the Arsenal v Blackpool game referred to in the article. Standard police presence, but the Blackpool fans mingled freely outside the stadium with the Arsenal crowd. No problems at all. It probably helped that a) they were just happy to be there and b) they were thrashed 6-0.

The contrast between the Arsenal supporter base at Emirates (Highbury & Islington, increasingly middle-class) and the "risk" supporters is striking. Ticket prices and enforcement have really pushed this sort of violence out to the pubs and transport hubs.

Might be different when Millwall visit though.
posted by bright cold day at 9:40 AM on August 22, 2010


Interesting. I read Among the Thugs earlier this summer. I really liked Buford's writing, but the subject gave me chills.
posted by .kobayashi. at 9:51 AM on August 22, 2010


There's an excellent (and truly terrifying) book on the subject, by author Bill Buford, called Among the Thugs. I highly recommend it:
http://www.amazon.com/Among-Thugs-Bill-Buford/dp/0679745351
posted by lukievan at 9:52 AM on August 22, 2010


For those of us over here on the other side of the Pond, Bill Buford's "Among the Thugs" was an eye-opener into the incredible organization that goes into what otherwise appears to be an entirely randomly generated "event." The FPP was a good update as Buford's book is 20 years old now.
posted by webhund at 9:58 AM on August 22, 2010


Um, apparently it took me more than 6 minutes to put my comment together. Sorry for the double, lukievan.
posted by webhund at 9:59 AM on August 22, 2010 [1 favorite]


As interesting as Among the Thugs is, it is also extremely out-dated -- the action in it predates the birth of the Premier League and the rocketing ticket prices and change in the attending fan base that accompanied it (and to which bright cold day alluded).

As the article suggests, violence has essentially disappeared from the stadiums themselves, and pushed further and further away. Out of sight and out of mind for the vast majority of modern football fans, essentially.
posted by modernnomad at 10:00 AM on August 22, 2010


The idea of the 'pensioner hooligan' goes back a long way. There's a scene in the novel The Football Factory where the Chelsea supporting protagonist gets involved in a huge fight with Millwall on Millwall's home turf and all the dads, uncles and even granddads of the Millwall firm come of the flats and houses of the council estate and start laying the boot in.

Always tend to be a bit sceptical of this sort of reports especially of the 'it's happening but no ones knows about it' type. Especially when I read the story of the Sheffield United fans inventing a hooligan firm complete with fabricated evidence to mess with the police. Certainly, as others have said, whatever hooliganism exists is no way near what it was in the 80s since the rise of the Premier League and the middle-class fan. The meat-heads in the English Defence League are much more prominent.
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 10:19 AM on August 22, 2010


Are there really violent cocaine-fuelled 65 year-olds wielding chains?

Milky tea, milky tea, oi oi oi!
posted by Mr. Bad Example at 11:49 AM on August 22, 2010


Evidently Hell's Grannies are a real problem in Notlob, er, I mean Bolton.

It's a pun...
posted by Mental Wimp at 3:39 PM on August 22, 2010


bright cold day: can you help me get tickets for the Arsenal match on 28 December?
posted by terrapin at 3:57 PM on August 22, 2010


Millwall, that's the one. Do you know this chant? "Millwall, Millwall, we're all really dreadful, and all our girlfriends are unfulfilled and alienated."
posted by turgid dahlia at 5:02 PM on August 22, 2010


SomeOneElse: "I would hate to be a dustbin in Shafsbry tonight.

...Sorry, it does sound like a serious problem here.
"

"What if they become ruffians?"
posted by bwg at 6:14 PM on August 22, 2010


just another expression of Britain's booze culture

Any insight as to how this developed along these lines? I live in Wisconsin, which is pretty much as booze culture as US culture gets, and the main expression of this, other than alcoholism and its health and societal effects, is drunk (drink) driving deaths. The closest thing we get to mob violence is the former Halloween free-for-alls in Madison, but even those are hardly comparable.
posted by dhartung at 6:45 PM on August 22, 2010


Bill Buford's "Among the Thugs" was an eye-opener

Man . . . I know he's had his issues with Robert Fripp over the years, but thugs?
posted by Herodios at 7:27 PM on August 22, 2010


Dhartung, I've wondered the same thing. It seems that American and European political and sporting cultures contrast in an unusual way: Europe is more progressive politically, and I would imagine less violence and crime, at least Western Europe. Yet, in sport, it's the opposite. Sports-related fan violence is almost unheard-of here in the US, and what with our salary caps and salary floors and players unions and parity, it's a lot more socialistically-run, if you will.
posted by mreleganza at 7:39 PM on August 22, 2010


Here in the US we have "tailgate parties" meaning fans get drunk in the parking lot before the game. Alcohol is served inside the park as well, and games are unthinkable without a strong alcohol buzz for many, many people. But there is nothing like the European hooliganism. By the way, if you ever want to get drunk for free on a Sunday morning in Oakland simply wait for a home Raider's game, visit the parking lot just as the game starts and life is a paradise of abandoned half-12-packs.
posted by telstar at 9:14 PM on August 22, 2010 [1 favorite]


There has always been a violent streak in English culture. Napoleon apparently said at one occasion that he wished he had English soldiers in his army. I imagine having a steady supply of thugs yearning to put the boot in could have been one of the factors by which a small island kingdom conquered a third of the globe. Now that there's no empire, the thuggishness has to assert itself elsewhere.

My stepdad (who grew up in Liverpool) says that, in England, there is a constant segment of society whose idea of a good night is a pint, a curry and a fight, not necessarily in that order.
posted by acb at 4:02 AM on August 23, 2010


If millwall get into the premiership it'll be like that scene where the kurgan is in church.
posted by sgt.serenity at 4:25 AM on August 23, 2010 [1 favorite]


mreleganza: Sports-related fan violence is almost unheard-of here in the US

Forgive my uncertainty, but wasn't there violence in Los Angeles as recently as June when the LA Lakers won the NBA championships? With a car set on fire, looting - essentially the stuff that doesn't tend to happen in violence around European football matches, these days, because they meet on prearranged and on scrubland outside service stations? And wasn't that a repeat of the previous year's violence and property damage?

acb: There has always been a violent streak in English culture.

Absolutely! Thank God the Welsh, the Scottish and the Irish are total pacifists with no interest in either football or violence, or as a nation we'd never get anything done.
posted by DNye at 5:19 AM on August 23, 2010


DNye, you are correct. But that's trashing the town after your team won the championship is a different animal than what is being discussed here: Hooligan firms looking to fight with other teams' supporters.
posted by mreleganza at 11:28 AM on August 23, 2010


"Sports-related fan violence is almost unheard-of here in the US..."

Woah, what about the riots after NBA championships? Heck, "TIME" magaine wrote this past June, "At this point it's a tradition: the Los Angeles Lakers win the NBA Championship, the fans riot downtown. .. This marks the third time violence erupted after a Lakers championship win. In 2000 and 2009, post-victory riots broke out resulting in extensive property damage."
http://newsfeed.time.com/2010/06/18/l-a-s-rowdy-post-championship-ritual-continues/

Didn't Detroit fans do this in the past too? (I will leave aside the event Boston a few years ago when a cop shot a girl and she died.)
posted by wenestvedt at 1:24 PM on August 23, 2010


Woah, what about the riots after NBA championships?

The thing about 'Murrican sports violence is that we seem to riot and destroy stuff as either celebration or disappointment. But the chaos and destruction doesn't feel targeted. 'Murricans don't look for opposing fans to beat up because they're opposing fans. We just seem to burn and tear shit up that's close by to the site of victory/defeat.

Euro-hool violence is (if you'll forgive a modicum of hyperbole) more like barbarian tribes squaring off with their warpaint on.

You get psyched up with your fellow warriors shoulder to shoulder with you, as the enemy tribe with their distinctive haircuts and identifying clothing chant their battle cries at you, calling you a coward, one of them pointing directly at you shouting "You, fucker. You in the silly jacket. I am personally gonna kick YOUR ass in single combat and mine will be the last face you see before you black out!"

And then both tribes make the barbarian charge and it's a melee until one side looses their nerve and starts beating a retreat carrying their wounded.

It's like Marv in Sin City:
"He just had the rotten luck of being born in the wrong century. He'd be right at home on some ancient battlefield, swinging an axe into somebody's face. Or in a Roman arena taking a sword to other Gladiators like him. They'd have tossed him girls like Nancy back then.
posted by Pirate-Bartender-Zombie-Monkey at 6:00 PM on August 23, 2010


The other thing about the US: You're not going to get into mass fights with strangers. Odds are, someone's packing lethal force.
posted by maus at 11:55 PM on August 23, 2010 [1 favorite]


So... European sports violence is better than American sports violence, because it minimises collateral damage and is more carefully targeted? I've never really thought about it in those terms before, but I guess I can see the logic.
posted by DNye at 5:12 PM on August 24, 2010


I dunno if I'd argue that either type of violence is better than the other, but there are significant ways in which they are quite different in how they are carried out, and the motivations of the perpetrators.
posted by Pirate-Bartender-Zombie-Monkey at 7:18 PM on August 24, 2010


« Older It's about ethnomusicology, immigrants, and a tiny...  |  100 Helpful Photography Tutori... Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments