Capital Punishment: Hooligan Series - Book Three


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In recent years, former serviceman Dougie Brimson has emerged as one of the most diverse writers in Britain. Perhaps best known for penning the multi-award winning feature Green Street, his writing career began in when after 18 years service with the RAF, he co-authored the best-selling non-fiction work Everywhere We Go. A book that remains essential reading for anyone with an interest in the In recent years, former serviceman Dougie Brimson has emerged as one of the most diverse writers in Britain. A book that remains essential reading for anyone with an interest in the culture of English football.

A further 14 books have followed including the crime thriller The Crew which topped the Amazon sports book download charts for two years following its publication in eBook format and the comedy Wings of a Sparrow which after a successful electronic release, was issued in print. Following its release in September , the film won numerous awards including: Legislation may however bring the low sport journalism genre to a premature end. In late the UK Labour government announced a bill which, if passed, would criminalise the publishing of confessions of criminals for profit.

Both John Blake and Milo publishers condemned the proposals as unworkable and unreasonable at the time. As Walsh books has reflected:. The longer I stay in publishing the more libertarian my views become on matters of censorship and taste. Who has the right to tell someone else what they can read? While I accept certain things should be subject to legal restriction for the wider benefit of society — incitement to racial hatred, for example — I think such laws should be kept to an absolute minimum.

There are things we would not publish. I have turned down at least two hooligan books partly for that reason. So I do feel some responsibility, though these decisions are very subjective. I have no qualms about other publishers taking on such books — that is their choice in a free society.

This section will audit the archive of hooligan memoir books so far published in order to see what resources for a future post-subcultural criminology, based on participant observation and ethnography of these gangs, they may contain. Table 1 has in A-Z alphabetical order of author the football hooligan memoir books collected in the research archive. These archived memoirs are, if appropriately employed, able to add to the pre-existing body of knowledge produced in the late s and s and to some extent s about football hooligan subcultures, especially in the context of moral panics about football hooligan gangs in the mainstream media.

Accuracy of accounts of events, however violent and unpleasant, has been important to the independent publishers of the football hooligan memoirs in stark contrast to mass media accounts.

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As Walsh has candidly admitted:. One of my hardest decisions was over a section in Scally about a gang called the County Road Cutters who specialised in knife attacks.

This story was told to the author, Andy Nicholls, by the leader of the CRC and it is horrible really. The somewhat ludicrous mass media media moral panics about soccer yobs are still prevalent, although not as numerous as they were in the s and s Ingham, , Whannel, , Redhead, , , a but the press and TV news stories are even further removed from the street culture that they portray than they were twenty or thirty years ago. The News of the World confidently asserted that:. Teenage louts, some as young as 13 and fuelled by cocaine and other drugs, are using mobile phonest o organise through group texts.

Punch-ups between rival fans are also arranged via Facebook and You Tube. Cops have been forced to raid burger bars to break up gangs because the teenage tearaways are too young to be served in pubs. Most older generation supporters call it a day when the cops arrive but the young ones will stand and argue. There are many dozens of low sport journalism published accounts by self-proclaimed top boys, with a variety of club firms, crews or gangs involved.

There are also, as we have seen, A-Z volumes of hooligan firms, mapped historically and geographically throughout the nation. The ritual stoking of the historical and geographical rivalries between fans, clubs and gangs, however, is often the aim and this purpose is more or less achieved King, As Walsh has stated:.

To someone who is not part of that world it is hard to understand, but it matters to the participants. Some of the fights they have been involved in, and the friendships they have forged around football, have been among the most important events in their lives, so naturally they evoke strong emotions. As well as the England national football team Pennant and Nicholls, 36 British football clubs are represented in the most comprehensive list that can currently be compiled from the football hooligan memoir archive see Table 1 above.

In the following audit the list is in A-Z order of football club, with book authors associated with each club listed alongside in brackets. The following list audits those football hooligan crews or firms and is in A-Z order of football club with which the gangs are associated. Through this methodology, drawing on the 91 football hooligan memoirs and extrapolating from the clubs they mention, there are narrative testimonies of the existence of British football hooligan gangs over the last 40 years with a connection to the fans of the particular football clubs.

Sociologically this is an interesting statistic and enables researchers to conduct historical or ethnographic work on these gangs. This statistic though is likely to be a considerable underestimate as many football hooligan gangs come in and out of existence very quickly or simply change their names.

The same is true of the other crews in the list see Table 3 , above. So far, in this audit, I have concentrated on the gangs who have had football hooligan memoirs written about them, or are alluded to in the football hooligan memoirs. However there are many other volumes in this considerable football hooligan literature which cover numerous other firms, or faces, or top boys of single clubs, as well as namechecks of countless British professional football clubs Ward, , , Brimson, , Pennant and King, , Pennant, , Lowles, , Lowles and Nicholls, a, b often from the lower leagues.

Other crews or firms listed in this cultural mapping exercise, which exclude the firms which have so far had specific memoirs written about them are listed below in A-Z order of football club. On this methodology there are estimated to be other firms, distinct from the ones talked about in the football hooligan memoirs themselves. All of these British hooligan gangs have been in existence at some time over the last 40 years; some are still in existence. The approximate total of football hooligan gangs in Britain since the watershed year of when skinheads were first emerging as a youth subculture can be calculated, adding the previous identified.

It is a total of It is noteworthy that the authors of two volumes on British football hooligan gangs history Lowles and Nicholls, a, b claim to have interviewed hundred former hooligans. This audit of football hooligan gangs for ethnographic and historical research purposes for post-subcultural studies and cultural criminology is thus aided and abetted by the extensive hit and tell, low sport journalism literature and its oral history of football, culture and modernity. The books are self-reflexive about their contribution to an oral history of football, hooliganism and youth subcultures.

The introduction to one of them entitled Villains claims:. Aston Villa FC is one of the biggest and best-supported football clubs in Britain…The story of their terrace army, however, has never been told — until now. Like all major clubs, Villa have had their hooligans and hardmen, who have been involved in some of the fiercest battles of the past four decades. Villains traces their gangs from the s up to the present day. Through first-person testimony, it reveals for the first time the antics of the Steamers who, led by a band of colourful and fearless characters, put Villa on the hooligan map.

Brown and Brittle, , p. The initial outrage…turned to a full outcry of anger and disbelief when the authorities discovered my intended launch venue and so a media campaign against the book gained momentum. In excess of 1, people crammed into the venue from two in the afternoon until mid-night…Between bands, DJs kept the mood moving with guest appearances from the author of Casuals , Phil Thornton, and Farm front man Peter Hooton. The whole place was enveloped in testosterone as 90 per cent of the congregation was male and most full-on football hooligans of all ages and experience.

The hit and tell genre, recounts, indeed celebrates, hyper-violent male football fandom associated with a particular British league club and its mob, crew or firm. However, the authors are frequently at pains to emphasise that they are no longer involved in illegality and other forms of social deviance. Frequently the books come with a health warning about violence and read almost as moral tales.

It was hard for me to watch how I fucked my life up and hurt those around me — Denny, my partner, a really lovely lady, never did me any harm, good mum, good housewife and I put her through all that shit when I went on the doors. I saw that in the film and felt quite ashamed of myself.

The rivalry between the crews or firms the main content of the books: Few of these books have any pretensions to formal style or literary protocol, though two Gall, , are fully authored by a female professional journalist, Caroline Gall, who made contact with the Birmingham City and Leeds United gangs in question. As Pete Walsh at Milo, who commissioned these two books, has pointed out:.

Caroline[Gall] knew some of the lads socially. Some of them decided they wanted to collaborate on a book, but wanted a third party writer to put it together for them. They trusted Caroline and so she was asked to help. It came down to that: The Leeds book followed on directly from that. Some of the Leeds crew are friendly with some of the Birmingham crew. They too were looking for someone to write their book, and so Caroline was put in touch with them. Again, they quickly found her very trustworthy and easy to deal with so accepted her.

With Zulus , coming from Birmingham I knew some of the lads. I was only on the periphery. With Service Crew the Leeds guy got in touch with me. Some of the lads found it easier to be interviewed by a woman. I was never trying to reason, justify, explain — it was just this started in the s and it pretty much finished a few years ago. A whole movement just swept the country.

A lot of people just want to document what happened, the good, the bad and the ugly. They must have hoped I would do a decent job. With Service Crew they all read it before it went out. Loads and loads and loads. I was getting the tail end of the market. In truth there is a lot of dross now in the genre. Some of the self-published books are awful. And, yes, rewriting is the norm rather than the exception. But then most of these lads are not writers. It is their story that is important, not necessarily their syntax. It is a self-conscious punk, Do-It-Yourself trash aesthetic which is frequently pursued.

Titles are long and winding. Even if the headline is snappy, the effect is a parody of a blend of tabloid journalism and hard boiled crime fiction. These non-fiction commodities were effectively pulp, appearing for sale in True Crime sections of bookshops and libraries as well as sport journalism shelves.

That was the only way for the contemporary mob to look distinct and different from its rivals. Leeds United hooligans were an example of this for some time but succumbed eventually to a Leeds Service Crew memoir Gall, In particular, the Brimson brothers Dougie and Eddy have contributed numerous hit and tell accounts, initially about Watford but eventually over the years on British football hooliganism in general Brimson and Brimson, a, b, , , Dougie Brimson, a, , , , and Eddie Brimson, b, However, that aside, we got involved because we wanted to read a book which explained what the Saturday scene was like for those people like us who were peripheral figures rather than main faces — after all, that was the majority!

But up to then no one had written one so we did. Simple as that really. I think it became popular because it was new, voyeuristic and nostalgic. There are a lot of first time authors who made it into print purely because of hoolie-lit which in itself is a major achievement and it sold shed loads of books. Other than criticism of course.

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Dougie Brimson says he is happy that people are still talking about his work at all:. The fact that they are all still in print does kind of back that up really. Aside from that I love Bovver because it covers more than the hooligan scene and City Psychos because it was just a good, honest read. Cass and Guvnors are decent books because they are about real people but the rest range from dull to boring through to simple plain bullshit. Colin Ward Ward,, , , Ward and Henderson, , Ward and Hickmott, , one of the first of the hooligan authors, publishing an early memoir in the late s before Nick Hornby had cornered the market for football fandom, has argued that there are a number of reasons Millwall, among the most notorious clubs for hooliganism whose away cup tie clash with Hull City in the season created banner headlines in the press and dire warnings of catastrophe in the broadcast media, has not had a memoir published:.

Who wants to read about days in Grimsby, Stockport, etc? They spent so long in the lower leagues and they only took a few hundred fans most weeks. They took a few to Cardiff and other places, but they never mustered the numbers like Chelsea or others. Millwall had a famous day out at Everton when they took the Everton end and ran the place ragged a Millwall fan lost his life that day but you could never find anybody who could talk eloquently about it. They were hurting people because it was their fun.

Who wants to read about that? They had some memorable pitched battles with Chelsea and West Ham over the years and they used to hang out waiting for known faces late on a Saturday night at Charing Cross station, but they were far too tribal and always wanted to get back to the Old Kent Road as quick as possible. Luton was their favourite day out as they loved to ambush Luton around the subway tunnels, but their violence was always about violence not the laugh element.

The ICF were funny because they were so arrogant, but they were a tight knit group who gained notoriety which is why Cass has done so well. Caroline Gall, journalist and author of the book Zulus a genuinely multi-racial gang of Birmingham City fans, has claimed that the books testify, too, to a changed multi-racial culture:.

Generally, it is the best days of their life. A lot of it is not the fighting. It is the friendships, getting dressed up, youth culture and growing up. Loads of people together, the camaraderie. As for racism, there were a lot of brutal things said and done. I really genuinely believe in the multi-racial side of things. These lads came together and pushed the National Front thing out completely and really changed things since the s. They were a massive influence on stopping racism at football bananas, racist chants. The lates witnessed the development of casual youth culture Redhead, , , Thornton, , Allt, Designer labels and soccer styles have gone hand in hand since the late s and early s subcultural moment of casual, becoming mainstream sometime in the mid s and an international youth style ever since.

Casual history, or history of the casual, 21 in fact, is the missing key to the sociology of British soccer hooligan culture over the last forty years. The casual movement has been underestimated in British style culture, starting as it did outside the gaze of the fashion media, who did not pick up on it for several years — I think the New Musical Express may have been the first mainstream publication to allude to it in a story about the Liverpool fanzine The End.

Chronicling this movement is extremely difficult because there is little material of record; it is all personal reminiscence, which is notoriously unreliable. Even decent early photographs are hard to come by. Phil Thornton did a very good job of pulling different strands together and of charting the progress and changes the fashions underwent. Casual youth culture began in the late s.

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It is still going strong today. Casual has in fact been far from a transient youth culture predicted by some postmodern criminologists in the s and s. Merseyside was the birthplace of what became casual youth culture quickly followed by Manchester and then London, and eventually other cities. The Perry Boys are one of the great untold stories of modern youth culture. They emerged in the pivotal year of in inner-city Manchester and Salford, a mysterious tribe of football hooligans and trendsetters united by a new fashion.

Their only counterparts at the time were the Scallies of Liverpool, who became their biggest rivals both on and off the terraces. As a young follower of Manchester United, Ian Hough witnessed first-hand how the bootboys of the infamous Red Army were slowly usurped by a small but fast-growing group of unlikely-looking pretenders. They sported Fred Perry polo shirts hence the name , Lee cords, adidas Stan Smith trainers and wedge haircuts.

With their eclectic soundtrack and appetite for amphetamine-fuelled excess, they would transform their city into the clubbing and style capital of the country. I was always amazed when I found info on obscure bands or bizarre scientific sub-sects, etc. One thing I really struggled to find any decent info on was that specific time period between and when football hooligans in the North West adopted the soul boy look. Being caught up in the middle of it, I felt there was definitely a story to tell. I really had no idea that it was taking on such momentum in the UK, as I live in the States.

It was Dave that put me onto the s casuals web forum. The very first time I went on the forum, I just sat and tapped out a mad load of pyschobabble about scaly, knobbly, leather, suede and lambswool creatures with multi-coloured trainers and razor sharp claws that attacked each other outside train stations and football grounds. Much of those first few posts on s casuals were pasted verbatim into Perry Boys. I was doing a toxicology degree at the time, and I would use a computer lab at university to log and bang out these epic tales of bacteria and slime and how this gleaming new look has suddenly hatched from the sediment at the bottom of the Irwell and the Mersey.

The lads on the forum lapped it up and Dave encouraged me to keep going.

Acknowledgement

Milo were interested from quite an early stage and I just kept extending it and sending Pete Walsh updates. Finally on my birthday, in October , I was now onto a Masters in immunology, and my wife phoned me at the lab. I hit the ceiling and spent the next two months on a biochemical high.

I also dropped out of college to become a writer, for better or worse. Gave up a potential career as a drug analyst to be a hooligan authority, but I prefer to think of myself as a social historian. Ultimately I felt a responsibility to tell the tale of how, incrementally, a nightclub oriented trend trickled onto the football terraces and changed hooliganism forever.

I have always been a writer, but I never dreamed it would happen because of something like this. I unravel it a lot more in the sequel, Perry Boys Abroad , and there is still so much more to tell. Ian Hough has said that:. I really enjoyed the first three chapters of Casuals , dealing with the to s period. By I was into the scruff look — invented by some of the original Perries in Prestwich at least a year earlier, if not before that — and had gone off on a space trek under the influence of cannabis, acid and speed.

Getting dressed up for the football was a distant memory, obscured by wild drug trips. There was a psychedelic mountain range between the mid and early s, and it had been fun and frightening to surmount. I can be a terrible snob about these things — because I am fascinated by beginning and becoming — and this thing began and became in my back yard. There were some claims made in Casuals that seemed like total nonsense though.

Pete Hooton says he and his scouse mates met some Millwall fans in Newquay in and they were all wearing the same clothes — Lois jeans matched with adidas Stan Smith trainers. I mean, what are the chances of that? Phil Saxe was the best contributor to Casuals. He was at the head of several fashion waves and he even mentions the first time he ever saw mods in Manchester, in The mods he describes were wearing knitted long sleeved polo shirts, which were to prove the longest lived aspect of the whole thing.

Several specific items of clothing united Liverpool and Manchester in a single distinctive fashion at the turn of the s. Chief among them were the adidas cagoule and the Peter Werth long sleeved knitted polo often in burgundy. It just seemed to complement the wedge hairstyle and the rest of the costume. For Hough, the historical origins of casual youth culture are deep and detectable, and required the football hooligan memoir books to set the record straight.

As he has argued:. Quality clothing has always been the same; a template based on trial and error and what works and looks best. We learnt something that wealthier people already knew and we hammered it to death. Some have exaggerated when it happened, but only with regard to football. Its true origins go way back to the s and s, to beatniks and mods, and on to soul boys, perries and finally the sportswear crowd that caught on across Britain. These scenes all had their pilot fish and core players, people who innovated and moved on once it became popular.

Mod clothing, soul music, grafting, snide merchandising, brand marketing — all played their part in shaping it. I suspect it was more dependent on dictation from the fashion cognoscenti than people like to admit, but the Bowie-Perry-Designer overlap from into mid was the purest form, the pinnacle. All the conditions were ripe and we literally made it up as we went along, based on gut feeling. The deeper you dig, the more you find. My point was that the North West was what it was really all about, not somewhere else.

Everyone else copied the look and the concept, and as such were products of mimicry not innovation. That said, once people started on the case, they often arrived at the same conclusions and had the same tastes. It took a decade or more for the look to become something inside Manchester. From the northern soul boys the original Perry boys of to the Bowie crowd of the mid s, they were a kind of rare mod who you were lucky to see once in a blue moon.

The soul-mod look became the Bowie thing around Between and Mancunians were gradually acclimatised to this oddly normal looking form of hipster-hooligan. In the papers it was all Glam Rock flare boys in star jumpers. When brand marketing Umbro replica football kits, adidas T shirts and sports bags, etc became more popular than quality marketing ie well known and respected mod gear then younger kids around the scene wanted training shoes and tracksuits as much as small collar shirts and boat shoes. The domestic turn towards branding whetted the appetites of those who found Lacoste, Fila and top of the range adidas wear on the continent.

It was a process that once set in motion was inevitable. Manchester had been at it for years before the sportswear thing hit. I think Liverpool lacked our Perry pedigree, but they had a Punk-Bowie look all their own, which happened to include narrow trousers and wedge hairstyles. They went bananas when they discovered the high-end continental clobber and they invented the football casual as a result. Scousers exploded in a couple of years from almost nothing, but Manchester arrived via ten years of subtle mutations.

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The results were the same in both cases, and the Liverpool look provoked a reaction in the subconscious Manc mind. Those first years, from to , were the height of it. It was a secret. Only we and the scousers knew anything about it. Most people will say Liverpudlians hit the terraces in proper numbers as a real hooligan movement before Manchester did, and that would be true. The media were hopelessly out of touch with it, and this created a cloaking effect around the North West.

There were no nationwide chainstores or TV stars championing the look. It was a working class thing embedded in the football terraces. With all due respect, these lads had a great sense of style but were light years away from penetrating the middle class media fortresses that could have spread the word much earlier. It was all communicated via football matches and curious lads who went shopping in Manchester and Liverpool, eager to learn more about the movement. Most of the words between them probably amounted to abuse regarding fashion sense.

Three years must be the time it takes for a finished product to make its way across the country using such primitive means of dissemination. The hit and tell memoirs often have a section of court trial and prison diaries. Grafters by Colin Blaney, I loved Grafters , partly because Blaney was from north Manchester and I knew his world, but mainly because he summed up so many aspects of our thing beyond football. I grew up with lads like Blaney and they are wild boys, make no mistake.