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.
“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.
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.”