Who are the football hooligans? What makes someone become a football hooligan? Why do football fans fight at football? These questions have been asked thousands of times over the years. This page is my take on these and other football hooliganism questions.
Who are the Football Hooligans
40 years ago this would be an easy one, maybe not so now. Teenage and young lads from the area local to the football ground. Young men who grew up on the estates in the immediate area around their club’s football ground or from the city or town the team represented. These would be prominently white working class lads and if left school would be employed in mainly blue collar low skilled jobs. The football ground was simply an extension of their own area and felt like it belonged to them. As a result the ground and particularly the home end was an area to be defended from outsiders. The football hooligan of the time probably fitted much more than now the stereotypical view of a football hooligan.
Throughout the 1960s to the present day there was a large movement of people out of the inner cities to the suburbs and neighbouring towns. There was also a large increase in social mobility throughout that period. It was easier than ever to leave school with no qualifications and to make it up the career ladder, or to come from an inner city area and though hard work, talent and right attitude end up living in the sort of area their parents could only dream of. More and more ordinary kids also left school with qualifications and moved into skilled and white collar jobs.
The result of this is that today football casuals come from many walks of life. One member of a mob could be a young chap working in McDonald’s while another could be a solicitor or even more likely running his own business. Football hooliganism attracts natural leaders and many will now lead very middle class lives away from football. The do though, have much in common in many ways.
What makes someone become a football hooligan?
The general conscientious, both in the media and with the general public is that football hooligans are just mindless thugs who do not really care about football, yes? For those in the know this is far from the truth. If you just wanted to go around hitting people to could easily find a fight in any high street on a Friday night.
The other popular misconception is that football hooligans are not real football fans. Most football casuals love and are extremely passionate about their club. Becoming part of a mob allows someone to mix with other lads who feel exactly the same way about their football club and support it in the same way. It also gives a sense of belonging, a natural human need. You become a fan of a particular club at an early age, mostly because it is your dad’s club and it stays with you forever. Other than your close family it is the one constant thing in your life. Mates may come and go, wives and girlfriends, jobs, houses, but your football club stays with you.
Human beings are social animals and we enjoy the company of other like minded people. You love going to games but are not going to go on a supporters club bus with a load on window lickers. Going to a football match, whether at home or together in a group is a great laugh, even before you consider the violence. You meet up early, have a few beers and maybe something else, you travel together to a new town or city. You never know what might happen. It is a buzz. Add in the adrenalin rush when it does go off and all in all it is an enjoyable experience.
Why do football hooligans fight at football?
Quite simply because they enjoy it. Men are hard wired to fight , it is thousands of years of evolution. Without this the human race would have died out. Some men exercise this urge by playing computer games, some play sport, some enjoy the ‘games’ of work politics, non violent way of fighting, but most do it on some level.
When you have grown up following a the same football team all your life, you care passionately about that club. In a sport where many fans of the other team travel you likely to meet other fans who feel the same way about their team. Football is almost unique in sport where one point (goal) can decide the game. It makes goals much more of a potential flash point than, say, a wicket in cricket or a try in rugby. This is why trouble often broke out inside grounds in the 60s and 70s before segregation.
When opposing mobs who enjoy doing the same things but support a different team meet, the potential for violence is obvious. One had to defend their manor, one is there take the piss. While you will have much in common with the other lads, at that particular point in time you hate them and want to hurt them.
In conclusion, football hooligans can come from all walks of life
They love their club with a passion and enjoy the company of other like minded lads who love the club and their city. They also enjoy football, a few beers and a good day out. These are lads who are not afraid of getting in a fight if they need to and actually enjoy the adrenalin rush that a row produces. These are all essentially working class pass-times that been enjoyed in the UK for generations. The drinking, the fighting, the travelling away (on a bank holiday). While many football casuals now enjoy typically middle class lives, the desire to engage in these working class activities is still there.