From the 1960s onwards, the UK has had a reputation worldwide for football hooliganism was often dubbed the English Disease. Since the 1980s and well into the 1990s the UK government has led a widescale crackdown on football related violence. While football hooliganism has been a growing concern in some other European countries in recent years, British football fans now tend to have a better reputation abroad. Although reports of British football hooliganism still surface, the instances now tend to occur at pre-arranged locations rather than at the matches themselves.
There’s no doubt about it, things have definitely calmed down since the days of the 70’s & 80’s with the introduction of all-seater, modern, soul destroying stadiums, tougher military style policing and harsh sentences, but that doesn’t seem to stop todays die hard fans from causing havoc.
“Youth, Youth, Youth”
One reason i believe football violence will not be disappearing anytime soon is the involvement of the younger generation. ever since we started this page in late 2012 we’ve been posting pics of groups of young lads mobbing up and on every picture there have been comments from older lads slating their youthful counterparts.
We’re not suggesting that football violence has totally ended between the older generation, far from it infact, but there seems to be a massive surge of young lads aged between 14-25 forming a new faction of football firm. On numerous occasions i’ve seen large groups of youths, around 30-40 strong, some with kids still at school, on the hunt looking for rival groups to clash with. Okay, some might say they have all the gear and no idea, which with most you’re probably right, but there’s been instances of these youths going at it with lads twice their age, even when outnumbered. The fact that they have no commitments, like family and a job leads me to believe they are not phased by the harsh sentences handed out by the OB these days.
‘Prepared to fight’
“Phil” and his brother “John” are both in their early 20s. John got his first football banning order when he was 17.
Despite being Coventry City fans, neither of them will be able to go to a football match until they are almost 30.
“Phil” has been banned for eight years and “John” for 10. They were both convicted of football-related violence after being involved in a fight involving up to 100 Coventry and Leicester fans in 2008.
Proud members of the club’s hooligan “firm”, the Coventry Legion, they got involved in football violence when they were 14.
Despite the damage they have done to the reputation of Coventry City they see themselves as the true fans of the club.
“Football hooligans may not be true fans to you, we’re there every game. What are you doing? ‘Oh lets sit at home on the chat boards slagging off how bad Coventry City are doing.’ Come back when you know what you are talking about.”
“We’re prepared to fight whether it’s windy, snowy, rainy, we’re prepared to fight every weekend through the football season for Coventry City and for everything they represent.”
Police are worried about the possible emergence of a new generation of hooligans and they say trouble is more focused on the lower leagues where there are fewer resources to control matches.
While the violence is not at the levels of the 1970s and 1980s, the Association of Chief Police Officers (Acpo) says it is seeing disturbing evidence of younger fans becoming involved.
Figures show that almost half (47%) of incidents of disorder last season in England, Wales and Northern Ireland involved youths.
Andy Holt, who speaks for Acpo on football policing, said: “If they’re engaging in football-related disorder at an earlier age then we’re going to be stuck with that sort of behaviour potentially for some while.
“So it is something that we are acutely aware of. People are coming through and engaging in football disorder who perhaps weren’t around in the heyday of football violence 15-20 years ago.
“So it is a worrying trend that the younger element are starting to pick up on this sort of behaviour.”
Whether some people like it or not, the fact is that football in the UK has a historical relationship with disorder that goes way way back. I think all true fans understand that and I see it as less offensive than the corporate, sanitised version of the game that the authorities are so keen to sell.
That leads me to ask, will football hooliganism ever die?
What do you think? Have your say below!