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Not quite the whole truth but not a bad read
on 15 August 2007
Firstly I will make it clear that I am a Hearts Fan (although never a Casual or a hooligan as I was a bit old) so maybe some of you will think this review is a bit biased. My younger brother was a Hearts Casual right from the start however and this is just how someone who was genuinely interested in the Casual scene through those family links saw things.
Having read this book there are many positive aspects to it. The book is well written and the story is told in an interesting and entertaining style. Derek Dykes has obviously led an interesting life and he certainly appears to have a story to tell. In addition, the descriptions of the various altercations and the description of how the Hibs Casuals started is also fairly captivating.
The downside and it is a pretty major downside is the untruths about the "so called" standards the Hibs firm allegedly adhered to. They are quite rightly quick to condemn the Aberdeen firm for almost killing one of their friends and for the Celtic fans who threw a CS Gas canister in the ground at Easter Road during a game - an act of such complete stupidity and cowardliness that it almost beggars belief. But, (there is always a but) the double standards shown here is unbelievable. The Hibs firm were amongst the biggest liberty takers and bullies that you could come across. Here are a few of the myths perpetuated by them exposed.
They say they only fought like minded people. Why then did they indiscriminately attack anyone wearing Hearts colours at derby games, stooping so low on one occasion as to attack a Hearts supporters bus at the east end of Princes St which contained terrified women and children? Hardly like minded people. They were the only mob to do this. Celtic, Rangers, Aberdeen, Motherwell, the Dundee teams all brought large mobs of Casuals down to Tynecastle and whilst the fighting with their rivals in the Hearts firm was often fierce I never felt scared or at risk against those teams either at home or away as it was always kept in house. In fact I can recall one trip to Aberdeen when myself and two friends all decked out in Hearts colours were walking back to our car. We hesitated when we started walking down the road to where the car was parked as there were about 30-40 Aberdeen down there. Straight away the Aberdeen lads on seeing our concern assured us that they were not interested in us and that they were waiting on the Hearts Casuals and we walked without harm to our car. That would not have happened at Hibs.
The Hearts Casuals were cowards and their only decent lads came over to Hibs - While I admit that the Hibs casuals were a superior mob to Hearts I wouldn't exactly, from what I have seen, call them cowards. As Dykes himself admits they turned out and fronted all the other firms including the mobs of Aberdeen and Rangers both of whom he respects. So why then did they not show out well against their local rivals? The real reason for this is a story Dykes fails to tell. Basically, the Hibs firm attaching themselves to a club with little reputation for hooliganism at that time, grew very quickly, whereas Hearts already had an established hooligan support who had held the crown of the worst in Scotland since the late 60's therefore the fledgling Hearts Casuals found it difficult to get a foothold at Tynecastle. As such Hibs held the ascendancy in numbers right from the start and they gained control of the city centre. Having done that they then embarked on a campaign of intimidation against Hearts Casuals that was definitely beyond the boundaries. Guys out with their girlfriends/wives or their work colleagues were getting attacked by large groups of Hibs lads. Visiting guys at their place of work and going round to their (often) parents houses completed this cycle of intimidation which resulted in a desire by many Hearts lads to keep off the Hibs radar and the easiest way to do that was to keep their heads down at derby matches. So, in my view the guys who stayed supporting Hearts as Casuals were the blokes who had a bit about them and the ones who went over to Hibs were the people whose strength of character should be questioned. Real lads will know that the one thing you cannot do is to change your allegiance to the supporters of your local rivals.
If the intimidation of the Hearts Firm in their personal lives wasn't bad enough there is also the antics they employed in Edinburgh's nightlife scene. The amount of totally innocent people who fell foul of the Hibs casuals is huge and anyone who frequented Edinburgh's nightlife in the 80's will testify this as wannabe hard men comfortable in the knowledge that they had a firm behind them would pick fights with regular clubbers on a constant basis.
So, in summary, the CCS were far from the "men of honour" that they try to portray and were in reality a vicious gang of bullies who had quite happily ripped up the "rule book" and brought misery to countless innocent people. I wonder if the journalist author who pins so much on their alleged code of conduct realises the real truth. Despite this, the book is worth reading and for that I have given it a 3 star rating