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.”

28/03/15 Sky Bet League Two - Hartlepool v Cambridge United - Hartlepool, Cambridge

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.”

Man United

Manchester-United-Red-ArmyThe Red Army is a hooligan firm who follow English football club Manchester United. Although today the term Red Army is used mostly to refer to fans of the club in general, the hooligan firm have been one of the largest firms in British football. Firm members – and the firm itself – are sometimes known as the Men in Black, due to the members dressing in all black clothing. In his book Hotshot, Red Army hooligan Colin Blaney states that there are also sub-divisions of the firm known as the Young Munichs, the Inter City Jibbers  and the Moston Rats.  In his book Undesirables, Blaney has also stated that the ICJ that is dedicated to carrying out acquisitive forms of crime in addition to football hooliganism. He claims that members of the group have been involved in smuggling drugs to Europe and Asia from Latin America and the Caribbean, organizing jail breaks, carrying out armed robberies, travelling overseas to Asia and mainland Europe in order to steal jewellery and committing street robberies. It is the criminal wing of the Red Army

The Red Army was the name given to Manchester United away support during the 1970s. Most notoriously in 1974–75, when United had been relegated from the top flight of English football and played one season in the Second Division, the Red Army caused mayhem at grounds up and down the country, visiting stadiums where they would at times outnumber the home support. Together with a Bolton Wanderers fan stabbing a young Blackpool fan to death behind the Spion Kop at Bloomfield Road in Blackpool during a Second Division match on 24 August 1974. Kevin Olsson was the victim of this attack and this led to the introduction of crowd segregation and fencing at football grounds in England.

The Red Army were featured in the 1985 documentary Hooligan, based around West Ham United’s trip to Old Trafford in the FA Cup sixth round. It shows the Red Army fighting with the Inter City Firm(ICF) around Manchester. They were also featured in The Real Football Factories documentary series. An episode of the BBC drama, Life on Mars centred on football hooliganism by Manchester United fans in the 1970s.

Tony O’Neill, the man behind the firm and a former member, has released two books about the firm: Red Army General in 2005 concentrating on the 1970s and early 1980s; and The Men in Black in 2006 which told the history from the mid-1980s to the present day.

Their activities have declined since the late 1980s as football hooliganism in general has become a less prolific problem than it was for more than a decade before that.


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.

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