|Hooliganism is not dead - it moved to places that get less attention - David Lacey
||[Aug. 29th, 2009|12:44 pm]
"What happens now will demonstrate the extent to which the football authorities are prepared to act to quell the canker."|
"In England football hooliganism occupied centre stage for roughly the same part of the 20th century, namely the late 60s to the late 80s, that the American Wild West did in the 19th. Now the old rootin' tootin' towns like Tombstone and Dodge City are happy to re-enact the great gunfights to entertain tourists, and it would appear that the habit has caught on over here, to judge from the scenes inside and outside Upton Park on Tuesday night when West Ham played Millwall in the Carling Cup.
It was all impressively authentic. There were fights in the streets and pitch invasions during the game. A man was stabbed and there were several arrests as the police went in with heavy hands and helicopters. This was Skinhead Revisited, history in the remaking, and clearly the participants had done their homework."
Done their homework yes, because anyone who does still fight at football knows how to do it. West Ham versus Millwall has been blown out of all proportion by media. It seems to be something akin to the greatest battle in hooliganism now. It's not. The police did not go in with heavy hands because they were on camera, the police when not on camera DO go in with heavy hands against hooligans. A man was stabbed, we all know. WHY? It goes too far. Football hooliganism is a chance for lads full of testosterone (and for most alcohol, a smaller number another drug) to fight with each other. Nothing more, nothing less. Trust me I'm a "hooligan" and that's the reason. Yes we fight for club, for our city, for our region at times but if you break it down that's it. West Ham - Millwall is big, yes. But not as big as Newcastle - Sunderland, Liverpool - Everton, Man Utd - Leeds (yes Leeds not Man City), Cardiff - Swansea, Villa - Blues, etc. And how about other leagues with bigger derbies, Rangers - Celtic, Roma - Lazio, Partizan Belgrade - Red Star Belgrade, Real Madrid - Barca, etc. The thing is your die hard hooligan is up for every firm, every game and when he is presented with THE big derby for his club he becomes giddy. His mouth dries up, he wants to faint he's that excited. But of the small die hard numbers that are up for every game, they are swelled by hangers on who come out for a match against a team that boasts another team with a big firm, and for a derby it's like everyone comes out of the woodwork. Young and old, people who haven't been seen in years, people who don't even like football but hate "them." It's these people, these would be the mindless minority that the football "thug" contends with. These are the ones who stab, kill. Let us remember the fight at the ferry terminal between Newcastle and Sunderland which led to death, paralysis and amputations. WHY? Because one side hates that side more than any other.
"So much for wishful thinking. The reality was just that. Some of Tuesday's offenders could have been the grandsons of those founding fathers of football hooliganism 40-odd years ago – who started with the odd encroachment on to the playing area to celebrate a goal, followed it up with an occasional assault on a referee then started attacking one another. Football blamed society, politicians blamed football, fans were caged in and it all led to Hillsborough where 96 people died because the cops mistook a safety problem for a security problem.
It is only four months since the 20th anniversary of that tragedy recalled dreadful images accompanied by the comforting thought that it could never happen again, that everybody – fans, clubs, police and politicians – knew better. For the most part they do know better but if the scenes in and around Upton Park this week serve some purpose it will surely be to remind the game that hooliganism, while it may have been priced and policed out of the Premier League, has not ceased to exist. Instead it has been dispersed to areas which get less attention, such as pub car parks on a Saturday night."
True, we fight in pubs, pub car parks, under bridges, on wasteground. Priced and policed out of the game is absolutely true and whoever came up with the idea to do it, did well. FUCK NO I won't fight in a ground unless they're fighting us because that's it. Ban for life. No need to bring Hillsborough into it apart from the fact that the measures in place that caused the disaster were in place in all grounds to prevent hooliganism. Hillsborough was not hooliganism, but hooliganism took rightful blame (the cages) for the deaths. I watched that four months ago with tears in my eyes because yes I'm sad and yes I love football but I do have compassion.
"The reactions to Tuesday's violent scenes have been wearily predictable. "Anyone who thinks that thuggery has any place in modern-day football is living in the dark ages," declared the home secretary, Alan Johnson. Trouble is, more than a few fans would not mind harking back to darker times, particularly if they have read some of the literary works of those hooligans of the 70s and 80s who lovingly recall their exploits like retired generals remembering their battles."
"Wearily predictable" couldn't agree more, and everyone knows this. I wouldn't mind harking back to those so called "darker times" either. That would not only make my life easier but more exciting. I could go on at length about my most beloved general Mark "Jasper" Chester and the might of the Potters but that makes the point itself.
"Evidence suggesting that the violence had been organised in advance on online forums – "Make sure you bring your bats and don't bring your kids" – is disturbing but the idea is hardly new. In March 1985, when Luton and Millwall met in an FA Cup quarter-final at Kenilworth Road, play was halted for 25 minutes while police and visiting fans fought on the pitch, and there was more trouble outside after the game. It transpired that Millwall hoolies had planned the whole thing with the precision of a military operation.
What happens now will demonstrate the extent to which the football authorities are prepared to act to prevent the canker of hooliganism breaking out anew. In the past the Football Association has been quick to condemn but slower to act. In this case the FA expects the offenders to be banned from football for life but that is easier said than done. Identifying and apprehending every troublemaker could take months and prosecutions for pitch invasions and racist chanting longer still."
Racist chanting, mindless minority. Out now.
"As hosts, West Ham were responsible for crowd control and face a hefty fine at a time when the club are strapped for cash. For some this would not go far enough. The FA can close grounds or make teams play behind closed doors, which was West Ham's fate in 1980 when Uefa ordered them to play the second leg of a Cup Winners' Cup tie against Castilla at an empty Upton Park after crowd trouble at the Bernabéu, when a visiting fan was crushed to death by a bus."
This kills football clubs. What do we do?
"Maybe Tuesday will turn out to be a one-off, an isolated trip down a lane of bad memories. After all, nothing similar was reported 48 hours earlier when West Ham and Tottenham, whose followers are hardly blood brothers, met at Upton Park. Nevertheless, sod's law being what it is, football will breathe easier should Millwall fail to reach the third round of the FA Cup this season."
What do we do now? All firms will be gunning for West Ham now. Not just to physically best them but to get onto the pitch, emulate AND best them. How do you keep it between lads who want a fight and destruction of the clubs we love?