Wednesday 26 August 2009

West Ham and Millwall fans in hooligan clash!

Well what a predictable news headline this is! Probably the most predictable news story of the week! I can't believe there are any football fans out there surprised by last night's violence! People are saying it was a return to the bad old days of the 70's and 80's but the truth is football hooliganism never really went away!

It's extremely rare to see football violence at most football grounds these days, but that doesn't mean to say that it no longer goes on.

We're never going to return to the dark days of the 70's and 80's where football violence took place every weekend, but there are certain football fixtures in this country where hooligans will come out of the woodwork to specifically target.

West Ham/Millwall games are in that category. What makes it worse with these two clubs is that they rarely play each other so when they do the occasion is even more intense. The hooligan element of both clubs will make an effort to come out and have 'a row' as they say.

As a Birmingham City fan I have seen this first hand. Our club has always had a hooligan element known as the 'Zulus'. Certain Birmingham games over the years always attract trouble. These include matches against Cardiff, Stoke, Aston Villa (naturally) and also coincidentally Millwall.

I inadvertently witnessed some football hooliganism back in 2005 when I went to a League Cup game at Millwall. About a third of Birmingham's away support that night were hooligans who after getting into the ground 10 minutes late, began to smash up many of the seats before beginning to goad and shout abuse at the Millwall fans in the opposite stand.

Me and my Spurs supporting friend (I still feel guilty about dragging him along) watched this in complete and stunned silence as we'd never seen anything like it! There was no 'hand to hand' combat between the fans as they were separated by the stands, but we were kept back after the game by the police for our own safety.

Although it wasn't a particularly pleasant experience, in comparison to the scenes last night at West Ham, it was like a picnic in the park.

The thing is, many of those Birmingham fans that night were not the sort of people I usually see at London away games. They went to that game specifically because it was Millwall. I'm convinced that many of the people involved in the troubles last night had come out because it was West Ham/Millwall.

What makes me laugh is that many of the main ringleaders of such violence are blokes in their 40s and 50s. It's as if they're trying to turn the clock back to 1983. You then get younger kids who have grown up watching films like The Football Factory and reading the never ending number of football hooligan (Hoolie Lit) books out there on the bookshelves.

What I don't understand is how the police and the club stewards weren't prepared for this. I'm sure they were up to a point but clearly not enough.

I can imagine that the atmosphere would have been horrible for many ordinary fans, but when I hear about some people who were at the game with young children under the age of 10 I do wonder why an earth they would take kids to such a match!

They must have known that things could potentially turn ugly, its the nature of the fixture! I will never attend a Birmingham/Millwall game ever again in my life, and certainly not with young kids!

I know ideally we should be able to attend any game we like without the worry of trouble, but West Ham/Millwall is not one of them. Whether we like it or not there are still a number of explosive fixtures out there that fans must approach with caution.


  1. Disgusting scenes at Upton Park. Check out my blog for a first hand account from a neutral fan sitting in the West Ham end on Tuesday night!

  2. I bet that was a horrific experience in witnessing the riots you said. Yes Millwall and West Ham should have rung bells within the execs at the FA. Should either re-draw or the game be played where NO (West Ham or Millwall fans) are present.Obviously not played at Upton Park or The Den. Check out my blog on my view on hooliganism coming from a neutral fan.