Grandad football hooligans return to Cambridge United in pursuit of 1980s-style violence

Grandparents are among a hardcore of Cambridge United hooligans coming out of retirement to try and revive the dark days of football violence

 The club has identified a group of about 10 men, some aged in their 50s and 60s, who are hijacking the club’s name in pursuit of the kicks they got in the 1980s from arranging fights with rival firms and causing trouble on match days.

They have been largely absent from the Abbey – perhaps distracted by the toils of raising families – but are returning to the club following its return to the Football League and encouraging young people to get involved, the club says.


Cambridgeshire police say they have seen an increase in the “severity and volume” of football-related disorder this season.

 Cambridge United bosses are working with police to keep them out of their “unashamedly family club” and are launching a wide-ranging campaign to promote respect and fight discrimination in the community under the national Kick It Out Season of Action banner.

Club chairman Dave Doggett is set to launch its campaign at the home tie with Accrington Stanley tomorrow.

Speaking to fans in his match programme notes he will say: “Unfortunately football clubs still attract an undesirable element of society that appear determined to ruin the enjoyment of real supporters of football clubs.

“Our promotion to the Football League appears to have encouraged our ‘risk’ from the 1980s to come out of retirement.

“Many of them are grandparents trying to encourage the next generation to join their ‘gangs’. It sounds pathetic but unfortunately it is reality. We are working closely with police.”

Mr Doggett added: “Hopefully the reality of the potential consequences will dissuade some of our younger supporters from becoming involved with these undesirables. Our football club is too important to so many to allow a few to ruin our great sport.”

The “undesirables” amount to just 0.2 per cent of those going to games at the Abbey, Mr Doggett said.

A season ticket holder told the News that a group about 30 “fans”, who include those who indulged in football violence in the 1980s as well as young people, turn up to some games looking for trouble afterwards.

One said: “They arrive after the game starts and then leave before it finishes to find a fight.”

U’s fan Peter Woor, who remembers hooliganism in the 1970s and 80s, said football hooliganism has not been truly banished.

He said: “It lingers on in games against Southend and Luton. There’s a tension and you feel threatened so I don’t go to those places anymore. It’s not worth it.

“Most places are fine though, but you still tend to go to away games and keep your colours hidden. I remember the 1970s and 80s and it was horrendous and of course it’s nothing like that but it’s still a problem.”

On “fans” his age taking part in hooligan behaviour he said: “These people must have something missing in their lives to want to do this. It’s very sad.”

Cambridge United supporter Simon Dobbin, 42, has been in a medically-induced coma since he was attacked after the U’s game with Southend on March 21.

Essex police said he was an “entirely innocent victim” who they believe was set upon by a group of men who went out with the intention to attack Cambridge fans.

Inspector Steve Kerridge, Cambridgeshire Constabulary’s lead officer for Cambridge football, said the force has enjoyed a “long and positive working relationship” with Cambridge United.

He said: “We have seen an increase in football-related violence and disorder amongst a very small minority of people, both in Cambridge and other locations when the club has travelled.

“The tragic events recently leading to a serious injury in Southend have been reported widely and sicken us all.

“The club is working hard with us to ensure that those who use football as a vehicle for violence and disorder have no place in the terraces or association with Cambridge United.”

He said they are using football banning orders, which impose “stringent court-backed” restrictions on individuals.

He added: “The increase of risk activity both in severity and volume this season means regular consideration of this level of intervention is once again – and sadly – justified and necessary.”


U’s launches Kick it Out campaign

Cambridge United is waging a war on the “unacceptable prejudices” that still exist within football and society.

The club, which says it is determined to snuff out the problem of “undesirable elements” attending games and build on its family roots, is stepping up its work in the community to help stamp out discrimination and promote respect.

They have designated tomorrow’s League 2 game against Accrington Stanley as their Kick It Out day and have offered discounted tickets to disability, girls football and community groups.

The campaign aims to tackle all forms of discrimination, including racism and sexism, by visiting schools and supporting good causes in the community.

It is establishing a culture of “total respect” in the club and first team players have been visiting schools to spread the anti-discrimination message and promote healthy lifestyles.

Dave Doggett, the club’s chairman, said: “The campaign is aimed at highlighting all of the unacceptable prejudices that still exist within a civilised society.

“It never fails to puzzle me why the simple principle of treating people with the same respect you expect from them is not universally accepted.”

He added: “As a club we are committed to work in the community making a difference to people’s lives. Our players regularly visit schools.

Last year the players explained to youngsters that they do not have to accept being bullied at school or in the playground. This year we are working with the NHS to promote healthy lifestyles.”

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Danny Kerrigan, of Cambridge United Community Trust, said: “Cambridge United are committed to ensuring our club is free from all discrimination, and with the help of Sepura, the trust’s headline sponsor for 2014/15, we will spread this message to the wider community.

“One of the major themes of the trust’s work is inclusion. We are dedicated to celebrating diversity and offering opportunities, regardless of any consideration of age, gender, race, sexuality, ability, or any other characteristic.”