Category Archives: hooliganism

Sorry, but The London Stadium is not fit for purpose.

west ham,watford,hooligan,hooliganismMuch has already been made about the trouble which took place inside the London Stadium at the West Ham versus Watford game yesterday. However, to those of us who attended games the game, as I did as one of the visiting support, it was hardly a surprise. For it is fairly clear that whilst this is an amazing venue, it simply does not yet work as a football stadium.

Leaving aside the fact that the lower tier is so shallow that it almost demands you stand to see anything (totally illegally of course) the segregation is almost laughable with the two sets of fans being barely a decent right-hander apart. 

However, there is a more fundamental problem and it one which will have to be addressed sooner rather than later. It is the thorny issue of stewarding. Not just inside the stadium, but outside.

At the risk of causing offence to anyone -and if I do, I apologise, but someone is going to have to say this- putting a dayglo vest on someone with only rudimentary English language skills does not make for an effective steward. More worryingly, if they have no experience of English football let alone dealing with aggressive fans, it makes them a liability because it can cause more problems than it solves. Just as importantly, it can place them in direct danger. More so when there are no police around to back them up.

As visiting fans, we saw the consequences of this inside the stadium yesterday but the truth is, they were exacerbated by some of the things which went on outside before the game. Indeed, the close proximity of the Westfield shopping centre, coupled with the lack of places to drink beforehand, is a recipe for disaster. More so when you have security staff walking around sticking camera’s in peoples faces as they did to us yesterday. Understandable if we were being a problem but not when you’re sitting outside a bar quietly drinking a coke.

That might be a small thing to some but the overt way it was done coupled with the arrogant attitude of those doing the filming pissed off an awful lot of people and this wasn’t the only incident of its type we heard about. The worry being that if the London Stadium witnesses these types of problems when a club such as Watford are visiting, what is it going to be like when clubs such as Chelsea or Spurs are the visitors? The consequences were it to kick off inside the mall don’t even bare thinking about.

I am not for one second trying to defend those who cause trouble because ultimately, they are to blame for what they get up to. Nor am I pointing a finger at West Ham fans, the majority of whom are amongst the best and most passionate in the country. However, the responsibility for the safety of all supporters in and around a home stadium is entirely a matter for the owners and it is one which, in the case of The London Stadium, is being failed. Badly.

Given what is at stake, that is totally unacceptable and one must hope that the results of the investigation announced by the FA today will leave the club management in absolutely no doubt as to what is required of them.

@dougiebrimson

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Just in case you didn’t already know, all of my books and DVD’s are available from both Amazon and iTunes.

Further information can be found at dougiebrimson.com

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EURO 2016: The clash of cultures behind the hooliganism.

hooligans,ultra,euro2016,russia,englandThus far, despite numerous requests (44 at the last count), I have refused to make much comment on the trouble at EURO 2016. The main reason being that I’ve become as tired of saying ‘I told you so’ as I’m sure people have of hearing me say it.

But equally, it wasn’t exactly difficult to see how it would pan out as it was fairly obvious that as soon as the English came under attack and fought back to defend themselves, the general public, fuelled by the British media, would brand them all as scum until the reality hit at which point they would change their generally ill-informed tune. We would then see the usual drivel being spouted by the press (‘did it ever go away?’ ‘why always us?’ ‘they’re all Brexiters’ etc) and blame apportioned to everyone except those who are actually guilty. Including me. Oh yes, amongst others, The Mail claimed that Russian hooligans have been inspired by my books and of course, Green Street. 

Finally, we would start to see some sensible reporting of the problem including some serious investigation which is of course, exactly what has happened and where we are now. It’s a well worn path and one which someone like me, who has walked it many times, is bored of treading. Hence, it’s better to avoid it and wallow in the knowledge that pretty much everything we wrote in Everywhere We Go back in 1996, was bang on the money and continues to be relevant some 20 years later. A sad indictment of the game.

However, there is one element of the violence in France which has intrigued me enough to want to speak out and it’s one which not many people have picked up on.

For what we are seeing here is not simple hooliganism, what we are seeing is a clash of hooligan cultures. Or to put it another way, English Disease versus Ultra.

I talk about the differences between the two elements in great depth in my book Eurotrashed. The Rise and Rise of Europe’s Football Hooligans but in simple terms, those English/Brits who are not averse to the odd confrontation at games tend to keep confined to match days whilst for the average Ultra, it’s more of a 24/7 thing. As a result, it’s much more organised and much more violent.

That said, Ultra, like hooliganism, is a catch-all term. The groups we ultra,EURO2016,hooligan,Russia,Englandare seeing from Russia are very different from the Ultra who infest Italian football who are in turn, different from the Barras Brava who follow football in Latin America. Indeed, we also have a fledgling Ultra culture emerging in the US although there is little to suggest that violence will ever become ingrained in MLS.

The one constant however, is that these groups look to English football as the home of hooliganism and so when the opportunity comes to confront the historical ‘top boys’ in battle, it will usually be grasped with both hands. What we are seeing with the Russians at EURO 2016 is the most brazen and public example of this although ironically , it may well backfire with many English groups already dismissing the attacks on innocent fans as being little more than cowardly and certainly against the spirit of the culture. 

Quite what the next few days has in store is anyones guess although as I type this, Lille is on high alert with Russia due to play there tomorrow and the city full of fans from many nations including England and Wales who play in Lens on Thursday. There is also the small matter of the Poles, the Germans and the Turks (all of whom have already been involved in trouble which has gone largely unreported) not to mention Ukraine, Slovakia, Sweden, Croatia and of course, the locals who, as we saw in Marseille, are not averse to picking off the odd Englishman.

But whatever unfolds, given the response from UEFA today, the consequences for those nations whose fans get involved in any further trouble are going to be significant.

Let’s just hope that sanctions are all we have to talk about once the dust has settled.

@dougiebrimson

football, self publishing, soccer, money, inheritance, premiership, england, watford, zola, football, soccer, brimson, wembley, crystal palace, top dog, green street

Just in case you didn’t know already, all of my books and DVD’s are available from both Amazon and iTunes

The Death of Football.

football, soccer, watford, hooligans, gangs, top dog, danny dyer, we still kill the old way, green street, screenwriting, author, screenplay, script, independent filmI am a football fan. This, dear reader, is a well documented fact.

Now to some reading that, it will be natural to assume that if I’m not watching Sky Sports I’ll be trawling the back pages absorbing every fact about every game in every league the world over. Well I have to tell you that this is far from the case. In fact it’s the polar opposite of what I actually do for the truth is, I find the vast majority of football boring as f**k.

You see I am one of those supporters who believe that if their team isn’t playing, it’s not important. For me,  the great game really does begin and end at Watford FC and if they’re not playing, I have more important things to do than be bothered.

This, in essence, is why I rarely get involved in debates about football related issues. Yes, if something’s causing a stir in the media I might sling out the odd comment on twitter or Facebook and occasionally I’ll even blog about something but in the main, I don’t really care. As I say, if it doesn’t impact on life at Vicarage Road, it’s someone else’s problem. And to be honest, there’s usually enough football related drama going on at Watford to negate the need to get involved in crap going on elsewhere.

Once in a while however, something happens at my club which does demand comment. Today is one of those instances.

To give you a bit of background, over the last couple of decades Vicarage Road had developed a reputation as a ground where the concept of atmosphere was alien. There were no terrace anthems of the ‘Keep Right On’ or ‘Blue Moon’ variety, singing and banter amongst the home support was, to put it kindly, subdued. Even general crowd noise usually bordered on the safe side of medium. Certainly not enough to upset the patients in the hospital less than 200 yards away.  

Recently however, a group called the 1881 have sprung up in the home end and things have begun to change. I won’t go into it all in too much detail here but suffice to say, thanks entirely to their efforts, the atmosphere has improved markedly and Vicarage Road is becoming a great place to be on match days.

Pretty much everyone recognises this with even the players frequently pouring compliments upon the fans and in particular the 1881 and with things going well on the pitch as well, you’d think everyone would be happy. You’d think that, but it is apparently not the case. For this morning a letter appeared in the Watford Observer from a gentleman called Ken Connelly.

From what anyone can gather, Ken sits in the same section as the 1881 and he is not pleased. He is not pleased at all. This is that letter.

 http://www.amazon.co.uk/The-Geezers-Guide-Football-Mainstream/dp/1840181141 

Now I’m not going to attack Ken personally for what he’s written because he is of course, entitled to his own opinion and strictly speaking, he is absolutely correct. It is indeed illegal to stand at football grounds in this country.

However, aside from lining himself up for what I’m guessing will be a legendary piss taking at the game tomorrow, what he has done is underline one of my biggest gripes about modern football and that is the issue of designated seating.

I understand the case for it, I really do. But that case is based on a history which is no longer relevant in the vast majority of grounds in this country. As a consequence, it has now become the key factor on the demise of the traditional atmosphere at games as well as the main cause of the majority of arguments I’ve seen at Vicarage Road this season.

If there’s anything more annoying than the sight of people wandering up and down at 3.05 with their tickets in their hand looking for ‘their’ seat I can’t imagine what it is. And what’s most annoying about it is that it’s entirely avoidable.

In fact if we are ever to see a return to the safe standing that so many are demanding, designated seating would almost certainly have to be scrapped anyway so why not do it now? Not only would it allow us to sit where we like but it would allow people like Ken to get up and legally move if something or someone was bothering them.

Football grounds are not theatres and crowds are not audiences. For too long now clubs have failed to grasp that simple concept and that has to change.

Because if people like Ken Connelly are allowed to hold sway over the wishes of the majority, football as we know and love it will finally be killed off.

manchester united, david moyes, liverpool, british film, ryan giggs, old traffordIf you don’t know, Top Dog has been nominated in the ‘Best Action’ category at the National Film Awards which will be held at the end of February.

This is a real boost for the film but we need votes! So if you watched the film and enjoyed it, please click on this link and vote!

In other news, I’m currently in the middle of negotiations for options on two new screenplays and all being well, I’ll have these tied up next week so will be able to pass on details fairly soon (although I will tell you that one of them is the adaptation of my football comedy, Wings of a Sparrow).

football, soccer, comedy, cost of football, manchester united, liverpool, derby, watford

green street, top dog, we still kill the old way, danny dyer, elijah wood, leo gregory, script, screenwriter, author, independent film, self publishing, ebooks, dvd, hooligan, gang violence

 

How to bring your novel to life.

readers, film, ebooks, itunes, amazon, blog, publishing, author, writing, top dog, brimson, screenwriting, the crew, green street, elijah wood, leo gregory, charlie hunnam, essex boysOK, I own up. The title to this blog is slightly misleading because if you were expecting a writing lesson, you are going to be disappointed. In fact, to be perfectly honest anyone seeking a writing lesson from me is going to be disappointed because as I’ve written many times, I don’t actually know how I’m getting away with it so I am hardly qualified to advise anyone else!

No, the title to this blog refers to them actually taking on a three dimensional form in the actor sense. Because after what seems many years of what feels like post-Green Street herculean effort, it appears that one of my projects is finally making the leap from ‘almost there’ to ‘off and running’ with the announcement that Universal Pictures UK have signed as the distributors of my adaptation of Top Dog. Full details of that can be found here.

So, how did this happen? Well the truth is, like many of the events which form what can laughingly be called ‘my career’ it was down to moaning. And to a lesser extent, Twitter.

I won’t ramble on too much, but the short version is this. One day, as I was trawling Twitter in an effort to avoid actually writing, the name Leo Gregory popped up. Now Leo, as many of you will know, is the actor who played Bovver in Green Street and gave, quite simply, the stand out performance in the movie. He’s also a top bloke and so I dropped him a note and asked if he fancied taking a look at a project I thought he’d be perfect for.

Luckily, he agreed, loved it and so at the back end of last year, we met and chatted. Inevitably, talk turned to Green Street, the many imitators it spawned and the fact that in both our opinions, no movie thus far has actually failed to pull off the whole ‘hooligan’ ‘lads’ thing convincingly. This moaning led into discussions about my novels The Crew and Top Dog which in turn led to a meeting with the legendary producer that is Jonathan Sothcott  (which is a tale in itself). The rest as they say, is history.

Now, the point of all this is that like all writers, when I set out to create something, be it a book or a screenplay, it gets to a point where it takes on a life of its own. Up to now, I had always believed that there was only so much I could do after that point had been reached but this is clearly not the case at all.

Because as I have recently discovered, the key to success is moaning. And thankfully, it’s something that I’m not only exceedingly good at but which I also enjoy with a passion.

Happy days!

 

Nets, coins, hooligans… you couldn’t make it up. But you don’t have to.

hooligans, ferdinand, football, soccer, violence, lads, fans, supporters, manchester united, manchester cityOver the years, I have heard a lot of people talk absolute bollocks about the issue of hooliganism and in particular, the reasons why certain individuals behave as they do.

The pathetic hand-wringing and ‘it never went away’ type drivel which inevitably follows an incident of trouble inside a ground -be it racism or violence related- all too often leaves me shaking my head in amazement. It genuinely baffles me how supposedly intelligent people can be both blinkered and stupid at the same time.

This week however, has surpassed the lot.

Events in Manchester were terrible, that is true. The fact that a premiership footballer was almost blinded by a coin thrown from amongst rival supporters is something everyone involved with the game should be ashamed of just as we should be ashamed of the coins and missiles which were being thrown all the way through that game in much the way as they are at games up and down the country on a far too regular basis. Not just at players, but at rival fans, stewards and the police although this seems to have been largely forgotten (or ignored) by the back page mafia.

Yet what has amazed me has been the nature of the response to this particular incident. Not least the idea that to prevent such a thing happening again, we should hang nets from the front of every terrace roof in the land. Nets… for fucks sake.

Yes, a physical barrier of some description between fans and pitch would certainly minimise the risk of players being hit but let’s be practical shall we? Let’s think about this sensibly and talk about why it is quite possibly the most stupid idea to combat crowd problems since Ken Bates and his electric fence.

First, it wouldn’t work. You’d still get things thrown at the pitch only this time those that didn’t make it through the gaps in the mesh would bounce back onto the crowd. The legal consequences in the ‘duty of care’ sense would be immense.

Second, it would have no impact on missiles being thrown at rival fans.

Third, have you ever stood and watched a sporting event from behind mesh when the rain is pelting down? I have, and it’s like watching through fog. And what happens if it starts to sleet? Or you are required to evacuate the stand in a hurry? Or it falls onto the crowd?

The argument of course, is that such things would be considered during ‘development’ of any such system. Yeah right. Goal line technology, safe standing… how long have these things been being ‘considered’ and just how close are we having to either appearing in an English football ground?

Fourth, and possibly most importantly, if you put up a physical barrier you also put up a visible one. In this case, it would be akin to a flashing neon sign which might as well say ’Hooliganism: 40 years on and we’re back where we started.’ You can almost sense the victims of Heysel and Hillsborough spinning in their graves at the very suggestion.

Fifth and finally, the idea completely misses the point. For instead of finding a way of stopping missiles hitting players, why not consider the revolutionary concept of addressing the mentality of those who think throwing them is a good idea?

That of course, is the obvious thing to do. But of course football has been trying to do that since the 70’s and…. oh no, that’s right, it hasn’t. Because footballs answer to deal with the problem of hooliganism was to get the police to shove it out of the grounds, tell everyone things are better than it was in the 80’s (how many times have you heard that this week?) and hope the boys in blue would solve it. Which they didn’t because Old Bill’s job is not actually to change attitudes it is to enforce the law of the land. Something they continue to do and with some vigour whilst at the same time using football as quite possibly the best real-time crowd-control training facility any police force anywhere in the world has ever had.

That’s another debate entirely (read Barmy Army and Kicking Off if you want to know more about my views on the policing of football) but the fact remains that despite its claim to the contrary, the game as an entity has actually done little or nothing to combat hooliganism since the problem first began to show its fangs.

The coin which bounced off Rio Ferdinand’s forehead proved that conclusively and that is without a doubt the most shameful aspect of this whole sorry saga. (And before anyone mails me asking ‘so what would you do?’ I’ll be blogging about that very thing in a day or so.)

football, self publishing, soccer, money, inheritanceThanks to everyone who has downloaded Wings of a Sparrow this week. Sales are even better than I could have hoped for and the reviews thus far have been amazing. I certainly never thought my writing would be compared to the legendary Tom Sharpe!

If you haven’t read it yet, I hope you will get around to it soon and if you have please leave a review somewhere and help me to spread the word.

In these days of digital books, word of mouth is the best advertising any book can have which is why authors such as myself are so keen to get those who read our work involved in the publishing process.

After all, current thinking is that a self-published author needs to spend 20% of their time writing and 80% of their time self-promoting! With at least two books to write, I’d rather have that the other way round but only you guys can help me with that.

So come on… get on with it!