The Chelsea Headhunters are an English football hooligan firm linked to the London football club Chelsea.
The Headhunters have rivalries with counterparts who follow other London teams, such as Arsenal, Millwall, Queens Park Rangers, Fulham, Tottenham Hotspur and West Ham.
The Headhunters or originally the ‘Chelsea Shed boys’ and older ‘Northstand’ can trace their roots to the late 1960s, when football hooliganism was in its infancy and along with West Ham’s ‘Mile End Mob’ were one of the original Football Firms. Led by Danny ‘Eccles’ Harkins it coincided with the Skinhead movement at the time which saw a new breed of youth on the terraces who were prepared to fight. However the Skinhead connection to the Firm did not go hand in hand with the racism that would categorise the Headhunters from the late 70s and onwards. The Shed boys had a number of Black Skinheads in their ranks including the infamous ‘One armed Babs’, as well as different gangs from areas as Stockwell, Brixton, Battersea and Slough however despite this it was always a predominantly white Hooligan Firm. The turning point for the Firm in terms of race relations came in the 1970s when the national front gained prominence.
Since that point there was widespread racism amongst the gang and links to various white supremacist organisations, such as Combat 18 and the National Front, and to Northern Irish loyalist paramilitary organisations, such as the Ulster Defence Association and Ulster Volunteer Force.
They were infiltrated by investigative reporter Donal MacIntyre for a documentary screened on the BBC on 9 November 1999, in which MacIntyre posed as a wannabe-member of the Chelsea Headhunters. He had a Chelsea tattoo applied to himself for authenticity, although the hardcore were surprised he chose the hated “Millwall lion” badge rather than the classic 1960s upright lion one. He confirmed the right wing elements in the Headhunters and their links to Combat 18, including one top-ranking member who had been imprisoned on one occasion for possession of material related to the Ku Klux Klan.The programme led to arrests and several convictions. One member of the Headhunters, Jason Marriner, who was convicted and sent to prison as a result of the show, has since written a book claiming to have been set up by MacIntyre and the BBC. He claims that footage was edited and manipulated, and ‘incidents’ were manufactured and they were convicted despite having no footage of them committing crimes.
Nick Love’s film The Football Factory presented the Headhunters in a fictionalized account. The film focuses mainly on the firm’s violent rivalry with the Millwall Bushwackers. Jason Marriner was the subject of a dvd release ‘Jason Marriner – Football Hooligan’ directed by Liam Galvin (Gangster Videos).
Kevin Whitton, a high-profile member of the firm, was sentenced to life imprisonment on 8 November 1985 for violent assault after being found guilty of involvement in an attack on a pub on Kings Road, which was described as being some[clarification needed] of the worst incidents of football hooliganism ever witnessed in England. After Chelsea lost a match, Whitton and other hooligans stormed into the pub, chanting “War! War! War!”. When they left a few minutes later, with one of them shouting, “You bloody Americans! Coming here taking our jobs”, the bar’s American manager, 29-year-old Neil Hansen, was lying on the floor, close to death. Whitton’s sentence was cut to three years on appeal on 19 May 1986. The fan responsible for the actual assault, Wandsworth man Terence Matthews (aged 25 at the time), was arrested shortly after Whitton’s conviction and remanded in custody to await trial. He was found guilty of taking part in the violence on 13 October 1986 and sentenced to four years in prison.Matthews came to the public attention again in June 2002 when he and his 21-year-old son William received two-year prison sentences after they and another man were convicted of assaulting two police officers in Morden, Surrey.In May 2011, some 25 years after the Kings Road incident, it was reported in The Sun newspaper that Matthews had been found guilty of taking part in another hooliganism incident, this time at an FA Cup tie against Cardiff City in February 2010. purs Much has been said about rivalries but Spurs, West Ham, Leicester and Manchester Utd are still heated. After an F.A.cup game in 2002 a firm of Spurs yid army clashed with headhunters between Pimlico and Victoria at 10.30 pm, the violence continued for 10 minutes with 2 people stabbed one of which was an Aberdeen fan as both Glasgow Rangers ICF & ASC were in attendance. During this period the Headhunters travelled extensively to champions league games in Europe, most notably PSG in Paris and Anderlecht in Brussels where large scale disorder was present before and after the matches.
A more recent incident involving the Headhunters occurred on 13 February 2010, when members of the firm clashed[clarification needed] with the Cardiff City Soul Crew at the FA Cup fifth-round tie at Stamford Bridge. On 25 March 2011, 24 people were convicted of taking part in the violence, which resulted in several people being injured (including a police officer whose jaw was broken) at Isleworth Crown Court. All of those convicted received banning orders from all football grounds in England and Wales ranging from three years to eight years. Eighteen of them received prison sentences of up to two years.
Chelsea violence: Men sentenced following Cardiff match
Twenty-four men have been sentenced for taking part in violence after an FA Cup match between Chelsea and Cardiff City in west London in February 2010.
Ten of them committed violent disorder, while 12 were sentenced for affray and the other two for public disorder.
All were banned from football grounds for between three and eight years.
The clashes were between two separate groups of hooligans, the Chelsea Head Hunters and the Soul Crew of Cardiff, Isleworth Crown Court heard.
One of those convicted was 43-year-old Jason Marriner from Hertfordshire, who was previously the subject of an undercover investigation by TV journalist Donal MacIntyre into hooliganism.
He was sentenced to two years in prison and banned from football grounds for six years after being convicted of violent disorder.
About 6,000 Cardiff fans travelled to London for the fifth round match, which Chelsea won 4-1.
It had a 1200 GMT kick-off on Saturday 13 February.
The Metropolitan and South Wales Police forces joined together and Operation Turnhill, as it was codenamed, saw officers going undercover to spot troublemakers.
One police officer suffered a broken jaw in the violence.
A pregnant woman told the court how she was forced to speed away in her car on Kings Road, near Chelsea’s Stamford Bridge ground, because she feared for her life and that of her unborn child.
So far 63 people have been convicted over the violence, which followed the clubs’ first meeting in 18 years.
Detail of charges and sentences:
The defendants sentenced for violent disorder were:
Stephen Bradley, 49, of Beechwood Avenue, Sunbury, Surrey – sentenced to 18 months and banned from football for six years
Jeremiah Costello, 49, of Kilburn, north-west London – sentenced to 12 months and banned from football for six years
Ian Cutler, 50, of Hawthorn Road, Wednesbury, West Midlands – sentenced to 14 months and banned from football for six years
Darren Forrest, 40, of Waterlooville, Hampshire – sentenced to 18 months and banned from football for six years
Simon Hearn, 23, of Woking Close, Barnes, south-west London – sentenced to two years and banned from football for six years
Lee Hilton, 40, of Sunnyside Close, Angmering, West Sussex – sentenced to 14 months and banned from football for six years
James Lavender, 30, of Austen Walk, Eastbourne, East Sussex – sentenced to 14 months and banned from football for six years
Jason Marriner, 43, of Yarmouth Road, Hertfordshire – sentenced to two years and banned from football for six years
Ben Satchell, 20, of Onslow Way, Croydon, south London – sentenced to eight months in a young offenders’ institution and banned from football for six years
Nicholas Whelan, 21, of Blandford Road, Beckenham, Kent – sentenced to 14 months and banned from football for six years
The defendants sentenced for affray were:
Malcolm Courtney, 45, of Stafford Road, Acton, west London – sentenced to eight months and banned from football for six years
Anthony Dempsey, 37, of High Street, Tooting, south London – six-month sentence, suspended for 18 months, plus 120 hours’ community service and £250 costs, and banned from football for four years
John Devitt, 45, of Grosvenor Crescent, Uxbridge, west London – sentenced to eight months and banned from football for six years
Carl Drury, 44, of Burstow House, Hawley, Surrey – sentenced to two counts of 12 months, to run concurrently, and banned from football for eight years
Michael Garrard, 48, of Massingbred Way, Tooting, south London – eight-month sentence, suspended for two years, plus 200 hours’ community service and £1,500 costs, and banned from football for three years
Anthony Gunter, 26, of Fleetside, West Molesey, Surrey – sentenced to eight months and banned from football for six years
Ray James Kennedy, 40, of Trinity Road, London – six-month sentence, suspended for 18 months, plus 120 hours’ community service and £250 costs, and banned from football for five years
Craig McGuire, Horseferry Road, central London – sentenced to six months and banned from football for six years
John Meachen, 42, of Queens Street, Peterborough, Cambridgeshire – eight-month sentence, suspended for two years, plus 240 hours’ community service and £1,500 costs, and banned from football for three years
Adam Rawlings, 21, of St Albans Road, Watford, Hertfordshire – sentenced to 14 months in a young offenders’ institution and banned from football for six years
Tom Townsend, 20, of Waddon Park Avenue, Croydon, south London – sentenced to six months in a young offenders’ institution and banned from football for six years
Graham Wallace, 47, of Palins Avenue, Maidstone, Kent – sentenced to eight months and and banned from football for eight years
The defendants sentenced for public disorder were:
Mark Connors, 47, of Cheviot Road, Slough, Berkshire – sentenced to 50 hours’ community service, plus 12 months’ supervision and £100 costs, and banned from football for three years
Brian Hall, 48, of Seaforth Grove, Southend, Essex – sentenced to 120 hours’ community service, plus a 12-month community order and £250 costs, and banned from football for three years