Watch unseen footage of Tyneside’s hooligan battles to be revealed on new DVD

Unseen footage from the dark days of Tyneside’s hooligan past will be revealed in a new documentary.

Newcastle’s most infamous soccer yob, Mark Mennim, along with other members of the city’s once-thriving ‘football firms’ have opened up about their experiences on camera.

Makers of the film, Newcastle Mainline Express (NME) The Documentary, say the aim is not to glorify hooliganism – which true football fans strongly condemn.

Instead, they wanted to explore the place that it holds in our city’s history.

It follows on from the release of a book last year in which Mennim, 53, opened up about a life devoted to organised football violence.

Along with candid interviews with Mennim, the film features rare mobile phone footage and archive pictures from some of the firms’ ‘rucks’, along with chats with other hooligans who were embroiled in the ‘action’.

Director Dan Perry said the documentary was a “factual” look at how football firms came about.

Mark Mennim, former football hooligan and member of the Gremlins gang is pictured with Steve Wraith

“This DVD is about the evolution of football hooliganism,” he said. “It’s a factual account of the Newcastle hooligan firms.

“It looks at the social factors that influenced the firms and how it effected the lives of people like Mark, how they got into it and how society shaped it.

“It’s like a window into history from a first hand point of view. It isn’t there to glamorise it, it’s to tell the story.”

Mennim, from Byker, Newcastle, became hooked on football violence at an early age and it soon took over his life.

Relationships came and went, and even after becoming a father he could not give up.

Not long after the birth of his daughter Mennim was jailed for carrying a knife when he travelled down to London in 1987 for a Spurs game, something he claims was a ‘fit-up’.

Following his release 18 months later he tried to go straight – but soon returned to violence, and his partner of 12 years left him, taking his three-year-old girl with her.

Mark Mennim, former football hooligan and member of the Gremlins

Many football thugs from the 80s and 90s gave up the violence when they settled down and had families.

But Mennim found it impossible to quit, and told the Chronicle he has only stopped now because of his ill health.

During the documentary Mennim returns to the scenes of some of the most infamous fights.

“It brought back a lot of memories. I was there, it was just the life that I led,” he said. “It was quite emotional.

“Football violence is pretty much finished now because of all the CCTV cameras and Facebook.”

Fanzine editor, actor and promoter, Steve Wraith, who co-wrote the book on which the DVD is based, said: “Trying to get people to talk about this on camera was difficult. But the book was very well received.

“There will always be people that are critical, but others will see it as part of our history.”

www.chroniclelive.co.uk

NME: from the Bender Squad to the Gremlins: Inside Newcastle’s Football Hooligan Firm

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Newcastle Gremlins

Newcastle GremlinsNewcastle Gremlins are a football hooligan firm associated with the English football club, Newcastle United F.C.

In March 2002, the Gremlins fought with hooligans from Sunderland’s Seaburn Casuals in a pre-arranged clash near the North Shields Ferry terminal, in what was described as “some of the worst football related fighting ever witnessed in the United Kingdom”. The leaders of the Gremlins and Casuals were both jailed for four years for conspiracy, with 28 others jailed for various terms, based on evidence gained after police examined the messages sent by mobile phone between the gang members on the day.

On 2 April 2003, about 95 fans were arrested when around 200 fans of Sunderland and Newcastle clashed in Sunderland city centre before an England UEFA Euro 2004 qualifying match against Turkey in the city. The fans then attacked the police, pelting them with missiles including bottles, cans and wheel trims. Some sources attributed these clashes to a resurgence in the conflict between the Gremlins and Sunderland Casuals.

On 9 January 2005, violence erupted after a home FA Cup match between Newcastle United and Coventry City. Shortly after 6 pm, several men entered the Three Bulls Heads pub in the city centre and attacked Coventry fans inside, with fights spilling onto the street. Police intelligence later concluded that the attack was carried out by members identifying themselves as Gremlins, who had been trying but had failed to arrange a fight with Coventry fans. Members of the gang were immediately arrested fleeing after being tracked by CCTV. After investigations and raids a total of seven men were charged as a group with affray and pleaded guilty. As all of the victims had fled and could not be traced, no more serious charges were laid.

1970’s-1990’s

Before the firm were known by their current name, the gremlins, Newcastle United’s firm were known as the Newcastle Mainline Express or NME due to their use of the rail network when travelling to away games. At the height of football hooliganism in England during the 1980’s, the NME were an extremely active firm causing mayhem wherever they went. They famously threw a petrol bomb at West Ham fans housed in a corner of St. James’ Park leading to many fans commonly referring to that area of the ground as “fire-bomb corner”.

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Terraces Menswear - Fred Perry

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