Wednesday, August 14, 2013

GREEN WIZARD NEWS: Violent Disorder by Mark Barry - AN EXCERPT


Violent Disorder Extract

From Chapter 3:

1988. The brothers have successfully (or unsuccessfully, considering the state of them) led an attack on the Brentford end in retaliation for their attack on Meadow Lane earlier that season. Here, they wait in the ARA van after the game on the High Street. One of them sits there thinking about how fenced-in away pens make it easy for hooligans to spot away fans on their way home after the match.

Later, in the back of the transit van, the mood was one of congratulations and victory, and the smells were of testosterone, excitement, trainers, fags, bad pies and stale booze. 

Everyone present and correct, the police in West London apparently adopting a soft policy of ejection rather than arrest. The new political regime of paperwork and administration was vexing to the average copper who was usually more content swinging a truncheon into the teeth of a starving miner than tapping on the keys of a back office typewriter. 

The High Street was busy with shoppers and shirters coming away from Griffin Park. There had been no sign of the Brentford mob, which were bound to be around somewhere.

Leaving an away pen could often be problematic. In the seventies, matches were all mixed up, the crowd unsegregated – stand where you want, like rugby union. That didn’t last long. Fences went up, and special pens for away supporters were created. 

What were away pens for? To protect the home supporters? To safeguard the away supporters? What was certain was that segregation made it easier for the local hunters to find their prey with little or no effort. 

In the seventies, local thugs spotted an opposition supporter because they wore scarves like brightly coloured plumage. After a few well publicised beatings, cuttings, and stabbings (the famous Bradford City photo after a visit to Liverpool – two hundred and thirty stitches, a train track down his back from the nape of his neck to the base of his spine, front page news on all the Sundays), you learned when travelling away to ditch the scarf and mingle in.

Shut your cakehole. Don’t order a pie from the hatches, don’t go to the boozer and don’t tell anyone the time if they asked.

Then, the away pen appeared. An away supporter may as well have tattooed himself on the forehead.  

I Am An Opposition Supporter. Please Kick The Fuck Out Of Me.

Local thugs could wait outside the away pen on deckchairs and enjoy a pint of beer underneath a pink parasol. Not only did you get the hooligans who had actually seen the match, but you got the zombies who spent the day in the pub. The small town morons who couldn’t give a flying fuck about their team, who consumed football through Match of the Day and paid only for games involving Man Utd, and Liverpool, and Chelsea, and Tottenham. 

The plastics. The local headcases who turned out for the fighting. The native thugs. The pubmen, the barflies, the Frank Booths, the furious-hearted alcoholics with their white socks, skinheads, Pods, Pepe jeans, burgundy box jackets, buttery teeth, dripping armpits, low-grade booze, toxic fags, condemned meat pies and solemn, despairing, battered wives.
Four thirty on the dot.
No effort required.
Open the gullet, down the foamy slops in one, and find the away pen.

Take Swindon versus Notts County in August 1985.
Classic example of away pen entrapment in action.
The Robins, recently promoted from the fourth tier, were on a high under Lou Macari. Picture the scene: The ramshackle ground, crowded wooden stands painted Robin Redbreast Red, the Swindon colours, four giant pylons standing sentinel, banks of rocky terraces like urban cliffs, the sun blazing on a high summer day, the first match of the season.

The West Countrymen expected a rout.
The fourth division championship won by March the previous year, and they had every reason to believe that lightning was going to strike twice. The football equivalent of Hitler’s iron legions invading the Sudetenland, Czechoslovakia, Poland, Belgium, Holland, France, Greece…not stopping, on a roll, on a buzz. Unbeatable Swindon Stukas in the clouds dive-bombing division three.

The supine enemy: Three hundred subdued Notts huddled in the top corner of the Kop under a silver grey pylon. Swindon began baying for blood in the opening minutes of the encounter, and they didn’t stop for ninety minutes. Shadeys, every one of them.  Almost all of them out for the afternoon for the purpose of drinking as much cider as possible and then, kicking the fuck out of anything with a northern accent and a black and white heart. Old school Notts fans remembered Leeds in 1975. Stoke at home in 1974. Docherty’s Man Utd at home in 1976.
This was similar. 

I went to a massacre, and a football match broke out.

Sensible Notts County supporters prayed for their own side to lose and thus, with positive thinking and divine intervention in the vast car park outside the Swindon main stand, the damage inflicted might be limited to a few trips, a swear word or two, a northern cunt, a fucking wanker; the odd rabbit punch.

Three hundred mile round trip and when you get there, you want your team to lose. It seemed strange, but it happened, even if no one admitted to it at the time. The zombie-eyed Swindoners baying for blood. Two thousand of them.
They saw to that.

Naturally, God being a deity with an ironic sense of humour, Notts won 5-1 in what turned out to be the best performance of that entire season.

A result that the baying, drooling ultra-violent Swindon locals were not expecting in the slightest, and it drove them mental. Most of the thousand-strong hooligans left the ground after three goals and waited menacingly outside, kicking at the doors in a recreation of the zombie apocalypse.

You could see them turn.
You could see their eyes redden.
You could see the bloodlust in their pale faces.
The younger, smaller ones peered through the gaps in-between the two giant red doors to the away pen.
Spitting, shouting.
Rage zombies.
The walking shambling dead.

The Notts hooligans – and there weren’t many on show that day, Dale Crenshaw, Wilconnen, Alan C, Shaun Church, Sparks, some of the older ARA lads, some Clifton, big Pridge, Clifton Tom, Breaker, Haxford, Clarkson, the Printer, Whisky Jack – knew that there was no chance of survival out there on those streets. 
They had been there before.

When a fourth goal went in, rather than cheer, the visitors trapped in the away pen turned around to see the reaction of the mob banging on the doors outside.
The Swindon fans started to sing.
More accurately, they started to chant.  A mantra, a hymn,  a paean, the hooligan psalm, a homage to the Gods of War, Mars, Aries, the intonation, the universal lad’s recitation, both a curse, a wish fulfilment and a prediction.
The Notts hooligans knew it well.
They could hear, loud and clear, the you’re going to get your fucking heads kicked in song being sung outside. 
A simple, repetitive ditty, ideal for masculine get-togethers such as this, with no complicated verses to remember and no need to trail off embarrassingly when you cannot remember the next line. It goes something like this.

You’re going to get your fucking heads kicked in!
Clap. Clap. Clap. Clap. Clap Clapaclapaclap.
You’re going to get your fucking heads kicked in!
Clap. Clap. Clap. Clap. Clap Clapaclapaclap.
You’re going to get your fucking heads kicked in!
Clap. Clap. Clap. Clap. Clap Clapaclapaclap.

Sung by a thousand young men in sportswear. Every one of them believing every single syllable they sang with a passion.

The Notts fans – shirters, scarfers, electrician Tony and his merry band of guzzlers who had just visited an open day at the local brewery. Haxford and his carload, the chap with the fifties slickback, the Weatherman, the fanatic Notts women with oversized purple overcoats carrying picnic baskets, the faceless baldies, the nameless skins, the programme collectors, the Subbuteo enthusiasts, the groundhoppers with their wives and girlfriends, the men with the titanic spectacles and their replica green and lemon pinstriped shirts, the miners who hadn’t missed a match since Atlee, the old brewery workers, the drunken dribblers and the small knot of hooligans present, about fifteen of them – all felt the liquids inside them turn to ice water.

Thousands of them outside all trying to get in.
Swindon Walking Dead.
They began to push the doors.
You could see the big wooden portals bend, the chains on the handles straining as they tried to force their way in. The coppers on the inside, the thin yellow line, watching and listening like the rest of them…

…but the doors held.

When it was all over, it took the coppers twenty minutes to disperse the locals and rather than open those doors, Notts were marched around the perimeter of an empty ground to the home stands and released through a back entrance. Allowed to scatter among the civilians still wandering around shell-shocked at the results. The Swindon hooligans, a bit slow on the uptake, only worked out what was happening when it was too late.

Most of the Notts fans got away, but it wasn’t all Steve McQueen on his motorbike.

A Notts mini-bus was overturned and set on fire. The supporters’ coach returned the hundred and thirty miles back up the M5 and M42 with broken windows and no windscreen. Several Notts who lacked the survival skills necessary to survive a situation like this (mingling, whistling, hiding in plain sight), were asked the time on the way back to the train station.

The polite ones received a slap for their good manners. Another was kicked half to death next to an Asian beer-off. Two young theology students in glasses, who didn’t even support Notts and were studying at Uni in Bristol, were set upon by frustrated locals and hospitalised.

HobNob mingled in with the local civilians walking in an anaconda-like procession back to the train station. He noticed several other Notts doing the same. He even winked at one and very nearly gave himself away to an ugly looking cider drinker in a red Harrington with ears the size of the tips of broccoli spears, tombstone teeth, and piggy eyes far too close together for decent conversation. Survival was the important thing.

Buy Violent Disorder here in paperback here: (UK)

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Don't miss the Second Edition of Ultra Violence, the first in the series. Same book - new symmetric cover.

New cover reveal...

Little County.
County’s got no lads.
Little County.
Wankers, County.
Old men.
Got no lads.
Who the fuck are Notts County.
Little County.
County’s got no lads…

(Trad: Pub Gossip: Circa late twentieth, early twenty first century.)

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