Tag Archives: hooligans

Writers, why your ideas are currency.

football, self publishing, soccer, money, inheritanceIf you talk to any writer, they will tell you that their heads are, generally speaking, pretty fucked up. Not in the sense that they/we have some kind of mental issue (well, not all of us), but in the sense that our brains are constantly filtering random thoughts and ideas. Be they for books, characters or even simple scenes.

This is especially true of those writers who tackle contemporary issues because if we have any intention of injecting reality into our work it is vital to actually get out there and experience a bit of it. In my case, as someone who tends to feature football in most of my work, watching games really is research (which is why my local and most fabulous Watford FC supporting tax officer always tells me to deduct it against my tax!). It’s a tough job, but someone has to do it.

Sometimes of course, an idea will fly in and fly out, other times it’ll hang about for a bit and then be forgotten whilst a few will eventually find their way into a project. But there are others which, by virtue of the fact that they are just too good to ignore, simply wedge themselves into my consciousness like some kind of mental post-it note. And if an idea can survive my Alzheimer like memory, it generally means it is worth taking notice of.

I have a few of those hanging around and hopefully, most will see the light of day at some point in the near future. Indeed one in particular already has me buzzing even though I have two books to write before I can even think about tackling it. And much as I’d like to tell you what it is, I can’t. Or rather I won’t.

Because you see in my warped world, ideas are currency. They are after all, the very basis of my creative output and so I need to not only nurture, but protect them!

I mention this now because my new book, a comedy entitled Wings of a Sparrow, is the result of such a process because it stems from an idea I first had over six years ago. I actually pitched it to my publishers at the time and even though they turned it down, I knew it was a great idea which is why I kept tinkering with it. Now, thanks to the joys of self-publishing, it will very shortly see the light of day. Hopefully as soon as the first week in December.

Full details of what will be my fifteenth book (how did that happen??) can be found on its dedicated website but I have to say that I am genuinely excited about this one, more so in fact than I have been about a project for a long time. It just feels…. well, right, although ultimately of course, that will be for you lot to decide!

And now, having finished Wings, I am already onto the next one which is, as promised, the sequel to Top Dog, the third book in the Billy Evans trilogy.

The plot-line I’ve developed is quite possibly the best I’ve ever come up with and as I’ve been fleshing this out, I’ve been buzzing with ideas including some which will involve characters from the previous books. Indeed, I am almost certain that I’ll be writing this in a way which means it will be quite difficult to read it without having read the previous two. To me, and to others I’ve discussed it with, given the nature of the central character and the world he inhabits, that makes perfect sense but if you have any thoughts, please let me know.

Two things I am certain of are the title and the fact that it will be released as an eBook initially, all being well around late spring.

But in the meantime, I have the release of Wings of a Sparrow to deal with and that should hit the online stores in the first week of December. Test-reads have been universally positive and hopefully, given the subject matter (and the fact that there is no mention of hooliganism!) it should attract some decent press.

As ever… watch this space!!!

violence, racism, racist, anal sex, oral sex, bum,
The Crew. Still #1 after 15 whole months!

I know I seem to say this every month but thanks to everyone who continues to keep The Crew at number one on the free soccer book download charts of both Amazon and iTunes.

That’s into 15 straight months now which is some kind of achievement and something I am incredibly proud of. Top Dog also continues to sell really well (it’s currently at #2) so here’s hoping the new book does just as well.

Happy days indeed!

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!

 

My miserable blogging performance.

Grovelling apologies for my lack of blogs lately. I could throw myself on your mercy and beg forgiveness but if you know anything about me, you’d know it wouldn’t be sincere anyway so I won’t bother.

Suffice to say, I’ve been snowed under finishing off Wings of a Sparrow which is now scarily close to completion and looks awesome. I just hope you lot like it because as I always say, my readers are the most important people of all. Without you guys buying books, I don’t eat!

 

On which note, heartfelt thanks to everyone who has kept The Crew at number one for pretty much 9 straight months now.

crew, violence, racism, racist, anal sex, oral sex, necrophilia,
The Crew. Still #1 after 9 months on the Amazon charts!

I’m staggered and not a little humbled by this success as well as by the equally brilliant performance of Top Dog. As a consequence, as soon as Wings of a Sparrow hits the marketplace I’ll be starting work on the third book in the Billy Evans series.

I already have an idea for the story and trust me, it is an absolute cracker. And yes, there will of course be a huge twist at the end!

In fact I’m already excited at the prospect of getting to know Billy again. He really is a naughty boy! 🙂

Why today is the real test for EURO 2012.

Come on England!

So, it’s underway. Thus far the games have all been great and thankfully we’ve seen barely any of the racism that was so feared pre-tournament.

What we have seen however, are sporadic incidents of violence but of course that was always going to happen wasn’t it. After all, why else are we seeing so many riot police on the streets of the host nations?

And this of course begs the question; why so much talk of one potential problem and so little of the very real one? After all, there have been thousands of inches of print and hour upon hour of television expended on racism whilst the very real threat of hooliganism has received barely a mention in comparison despite the fact that far more people are at risk of being caught up in violence than of being racially abused.

The reason of course, is that the pre-tournament media needed to fill space be it on paper, on line or on air and racism fits the bill perfectly. It is in many ways, the perfect story because we all understand it to be wrong which means that they can say pretty much whatever they like and hype it for all it’s worth sure in that there is no one to provide any kind of contra argument let alone complain.

Conversely, no one cares that some Ukrainian nutter is spewing forth dire warnings of what might happen should any Englishman dare step onto their soil because we all know that such threats are laughable, the media more than most. But they are also well aware that going into hoolie-mode might well attract the wrath of both the FA and the government and why risk that?

No, hooliganism is only news when something happens and then it’s suddenly big news. Occasionally, very big and very bad news.

In many ways, that’s why today is the big test for this tournament. We talk a lot about the Poles, the Ukrainians, the Russians, et al, but thanks to history and our domestic football culture, the English will inevitably always be at the centre of any discussion about hooliganism. They will also be the target. Not just for the local hooligans (and for ‘local’ read Poles, Ukrainians, Russians, Croatians, etc, etc) but for those who seek to soil our nations reputation and undo all the good work that has been done to change the negative perception of our travelling support.

That to me is a real worry. Let’s face it, there are plenty of journalists who would be happy to do whatever it takes to hand Mr Platini our collective heads on a plate and there are certainly enough policemen out there willing to help them do the job. With UEFA hardly being our biggest fans, finding ourselves standing in the dock in front of them is not an attractive proposition.

Don’t get me wrong and make no mistake, England might not travel abroad looking for trouble these days but there are plenty of lads amongst their number who won’t back away if it kicks off. However, those lads are also old hands who know the score and they are well aware of the bigger picture. They know better than anyone how to read an atmosphere but the problems arise when they are placed in a situation where backing off or chilling out isn’t an option left open to them.

As I write this, the majority of the England fans are in place, the sun is shining, the beer’s already flowing and the Police are twitchy. As the day progresses, it may well get more nervy and with our game over early, the fans will have a long evening ahead of them.

Oh yes, tonight is the first real test for this tournament. It’s also a huge test for our reputation. Let’s hope everyone passes it.

Hillsborough. RIP the 96.

Never forget.
Never forget

On this most awful of anniversary’s, please take a few moments to remember the 96 souls who died at Hillsborough 23 years ago today.

I’ve written much about that fateful day over the years, much of it admittedly controversial, but the bottom line is that people died simply because they wanted to watch a game of football. Even now those words seem shocking.

Thankfully, we will never see the like of Hillsborough again in this country again and tragic though it was, as a lasting legacy that’s a pretty damn good one.

Never forget.

Rioting…. It’s Just Old School Hooliganism

Rioters or hooligans?
I think it’s fair to say that my blog yesterday on the death of the gun-toting Mark Duggan caused something of a stir. Not only did it receive the highest number of hits I’ve ever had but it attracted favourable comments from all sections of the community bar one. But given that he was an American who seemed obsessed with the notion that this is all our own fault because we’re, well… British I didn’t really take it seriously.
 
However, during the day a question was posed of me and it is one I’ve thought long and hard about ever since. To say it has caused me some angst is an understatement but it is this… what’s the difference between hooligan gangs and street gangs?

Now the simple answer is that street gangs exist 24/7 with the sole intention of bullying and exploiting to further their own activities. They have little or no respect for anyone or anything yet demand it as their right simply through their very existence.

The hooligan gangs are very different. The catalyst for their existence is and always was football and in the vast majority of cases, certainly in my experience, the only thing they are really interested in these days is confrontations with those who wish to confront them. And I use that term confront advisedly. The changing nature of hooliganism and the impact of policing on football have changed things dramatically over the last decade or so but that’s another blog entirely.

The other important thing to note is that the hooligan gangs tend to exist as proper entities only on match days which is when they come together as a group to enjoy their weekly buzz of football and its culture. For the rest of the time the majority of those involved are normal citizens going about their normal business.

This was and is a very simplistic but pat answer. However, whilst considering it in the wake of the riots (and they were riots, not protests) I have been forced to confront a few home truths. For whilst it’s all well and good for me to sit here condemning the vandals, the looters and yes, the murderers, the simple truth is that they weren’t doing anything that football hooligans didn’t do in the past.

Back in the ‘70’s, football fans used to lay waste to town centres on match days with London almost a war zone on occasions and most can recall the devastation England fans caused on their travels at the time.

Equally, anyone who knows anything about the Casual culture knows that a fundamental element of the early days was the fact that the expensive clothes worn back then were rarely ever paid for but were instead liberated. Often through the simple act of invading high-end clothes or sports shops en-masse and emptying the racks before anyone could stop it happening or even on occassions, through the act of ‘taxing’. An activity which involved an individual handing over his gear by way of a charge (or tax) for being somewhere he shouldn’t! Furthermore, jewellers were often targets especially in the West End of London whilst motorway services were on occasions stripped all but bare by coach loads of football lads which is one of the reasons why they were eventually banned. And sadly, plenty of people have died as a direct result of football hooliganism over the years.

As a consequence of this reflection, I have been forced to become a little less judgemental when it comes to those who have ended up in court. Don’t get me wrong, I firmly believe that anyone who ends up in front of either a magistrate or a judge deserves everything they get but it is fair to say that I know only too well that some of those arrested will indeed have been swept up in things and will have been doing things that they might not necessarily have ever considered doing before. It’s called ‘mob-mentality’ or as my dad used to call it ‘like-mind’.

Fuck off you rioters!

Dr Clifford Stott of Liverpool University (a man who oddly enough seems to have founded much of his early career on the content of my books) argues that this phenomenon doesn’t actually exist but having experienced it first hand on many occasions over the years and witnessed it on far more, I would argue that Dr Clifford Stott is talking bollocks.

As I say, it is no defence and it is certainly no excuse. But maybe, just maybe, we should consider the idea that some of those who claim to have been caught up in things do actually have a legitimate case. And in such circumstances is either prison or a criminal record really the best punishment to be handed down?

Especially when some kind of public apology together with a bit of community reparation would serve equally well if not better.