6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on 3 September 2012
as a serious rival to Grimms Fairy Tales. A fanciful book to say the least written by someone who has somehow managed to earn money off the back of mythical exploits.
9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
This is an interesting concept: one ex-West Ham terrace gang leader telling some of the stories of the exploits of West Ham firms, along with the recollections of many of his comrades. In some respects, it's an enlightening, if disturbing read: the organisation, closed-rank mentality and range of social backgrounds of the various terrace firms is far from the generally accepted view of a bunch of mindless, unemployed, drop-out thugs. The clear message that comes across is not that this was something that came about in any sense as a rebellion against their social situation, but simply out of the pure enjoyment of inflicting pain and shame on rival gangs, and establishing their own position as the premier firm. I don't think it's a glorification of football hooliganism, more an honest account of why and how they did it. To be sure, there are disturbing accounts, and one can only be glad that this is no longer the general state of football these days. However, it wasn't the best read - once you've read a few chapters, you begin to get the general theme: travel to club x, fight with their firm at the station/on the streets/outside the ground - get into the ground, attempt to 'take' the home end, more fighting during and after the game, police involvement - escorted back to the train/coach. The author's own comments add rather more - he takes some time to reflect on the mentality that underpinned all this, and the chapter on the demise of the ICF is very well thought out. It would have been more interesting to hear similar reasoning from the other contributors too, though.
31 of 35 people found the following review helpful
I have read quite a few of these books (Guvnors, Zulus, Villains, Tottenham Massive, Boys from the Mersey) and even Cass which in spite of his sometimes blinkered views is well written and I found entertaining. I got this because I expected something of the same, well what I found was a bit of a mixed bag.
The book is mainly concentrated on the 70s and early 80s when the ICF were most active. You get stories from some of the main members and it covers events with some of the usual suspects of early 80s hooliganism. Obviously the book is written by ex ICF so its going to be biased however 400 odd pages of "About 400 of them came at us, we had about 50 but these were our main boys, we stood firm and done them" It does come to a point where you have to wonder. The "Top boys" of Liverpool and Manchester are knocked out with a single blow, the main face of Millwall is sent running in terror at a machete wielding ICF (Remember that scene from Rise of the foot soldier? Well according to the book that was ICF not Millwall) 200 West Ham take on and beat about 2000 up in the North East (Seriously, I kid you not these are the kind of numbers they are talking about in the book. There is even one where 3 of them take on 200 Leicester!) The best bit in that was was them getting bricked by thousands, Bill Gardner getting hit with bricks but he is just "So tough" He just stands there and takes it before they all stroll over, scale some railings and run them! As for the main faces of the ICF, well reading this I would think it would take kryptonite, plutonium, act of God maybe to so much as inflict a scratch on them (Bricks, knives, bottles dont seem to work although one punch from any of them and you seem to end up on a drip).
Some of its just comical. Mention is made of the hooligan documentary even a chapter from the maker of the film. The event in Manchester where they are seen running almost all the way back to London in the book they not only knocked the leader of the red army all over the place, ran them before the game, took them on after and only didnt charge them again because they were split up (Pity none of this was caught on camera isnt it lads?) At Chelsea when they are seen running in terror back onto the train apparently this was because someone up front saw the police (So why in the documentary is Cass screaming abuse at Chelsea on the platform from the safety of the train? He did manage to scare a few girl scouts on a day trip though!)
Then we have the chapter on the "England Hammers" Bill Gardners contribution was the all time best to this one. Apparently on a trip out to Spain Gardner took on and defeated ETA (Yes thats right, the separatist group that the Spanish government have been fighting for decades) Bil describes them as a "Two bit mob" In another part he chases 200 Man United out of a hotel armed with only a towel! I loved the other Gardner chapter where he tells us he never runs then later in the book in Liverpool one of his friends describes him as running so fast he actually ran past him to get away.
My all time favorite though was the Liverpool one. Apparently outnumbered by about 1000-1 Stanley knife wielding scousers (Who they knock unconscious by the way) The not only beat the living daylights out of their top lad but fought from their ground to within a quarter of a mile of Toxteth!!! That must have been some fight lads as Anfield is in North Liverpool and Toxteth in south about 6 miles away! Why dont you go a bit further and say you saw roadsigns for Warrington or Stoke? Why does nobody in Toxteth have any recollection of several hundred white lads in pitch battle on their doorstep with the ICF taking on the world (Including local residents wielding wheel locks and God know what)? You would have thought that would be something even one person in the area would remember considering we are talking about an area that went up in one of the biggest riots in British history. The Everton bit is even more bizarre they couldnt get into the Liverpool game so they all went as a mob to a friendly Everton were playing and couldnt understand why the locals including the players were just looking at them puzzled) There is a chapter on black lads in the ICF though it doesnt have anything to say really other than equally odd quotes like the black skinhead who was made up he was "Welcomed" By this gang of saluting bigots or Cass walking through on his own through a swarm of saluting West Ham.
Considering presumably the "Black Hammers" Chapter was designed to dispel some myths, stereotypes and contradictions this book is full of them. Everyone is Liverpool carries a Stanley knife (Then we are treated to West Ham attacking people with machetes!) West Ham never run (They just make tactical retreats or lull their enemies into believing they are running when in fact its a surprise attack. Strange thing is when Middlesbrough do exactly the same thing in the book thats not how its described) West Ham never attack normal fans (Then we have the bit where West Ham wait outside Millwalls ground and leather normal fans with an industrial screwdriver used on the railways) After reading this book the Cockney Rejects description of Cass Pennant as a "Black Del Boy" Really does spring to mind as I feel like I have just bought a used car off him got half way down the road and the wheels have fallen off.
And just for the kids watching Danny Dyre films and asking mum for a stone island jacket for Christmas Cass has even treated us to a chapter of West Ham songs so they know what to sing in between pie munching.
7 of 9 people found the following review helpful
on 15 September 2003
Any book that deals with the experiences of football violence while deliberately avoiding any moral judgement is always going to end up as a series of yarns with quite a bit of repetition.
What elevates this book is that the author has a genuine flair for structure and narrative and draws intelligently upon a number of sources to flesh out a tale that, let's face it, we all know the conclusion to, in a thoroughly entertaining manner.
He may not quite be the Hemingway of the terraces, but based on this showing I'd read anything by the same author; it's a worthwhile education for anyone who either follows football or just wondered what all the fuss was about on a Saturday afternoon before Sky TV.
And by the way this is from someone who WASN'T there.
21 of 27 people found the following review helpful
on 4 July 2002
Cass Pennant offers an unapologetic account of the Inter City Firm. He's interviewed many of the former members and let's them speak in their words; granted he has a few tales himself.
This book does not glorify violence and those hoping to recreate this level of aggro at football grounds should look elsewhere. Football hooliganism belongs to another era and Cass points out the reasons that it shall never come back like it was in the 70's and 80's. Millwall and Cardiff are anachronisms.
What's amazing is the level of organisation (obviously prior to mobiles) and puts paid to the claim that it was all mindless violence. Cass doesn't delve into the sociological reasons for this violence. Others have tried from a distance and it's usually absolute dross. I shall never understand the attraction of rucking for fun. However, this book offers a glimpse into this way of life.
21 of 27 people found the following review helpful
on 21 November 2003
If you are looking at this book then you already have an opinion on the moral aspect, so whichever way your view I will not attempt to influence it.
I grew up in the 70's & early 80's with football violence ever present on the news and in my town whenever matches were played, it seemed a part of life. To now be able to read a book that describes what it was like to be actively involved, at the centre of the action is totally absorbing. Read it in the way it is intended, not as a justification but a narrative of how and what happened. The term "I couldn't put it down" is an overused cliche but I use it here without apology. Captivating stuff.
58 of 75 people found the following review helpful
on 8 April 2002
Whe I heard that Cass was writing a book about the ICF I must admit I did wonder if this was really needed and if it may have gone against the 'code'. I got a copy of the book on Saturday (6.4) and read it cover to cover at the weekend. It is a brilliant book for me. That is because so much of the content is relevant and memorable. If you were not there, then may be it will appear that this book is nothing more than an account of a bunch of football 'hooligans' and their exploits over 15 years. I am pleased to say that this book is more than that , much more than that. It is extremely well written and packed full of accounts of derring do, from those that did them. Cass makes many lucid points and far from trying to explain the 'the reasons why' these firms existed, just paints vivid pictures of the 'do or die' attitude. I have read many a book about football violence and most are nothing more than inarticulate rants about the 'good old days' with the protagonists craving for a return to those times. Cass takes a diametrically opposed viewpoint, backed up by messrs Gardner and Swallow, which is that those days are over, and if you want to repeat them, you are nothing more than a dinosaur. He hits the reasons why the whole scene disappeared bang on the head (Heysel and the Rave Scene) and writes from a position of initial confusion about the way that ex-members of football mobs ended up working the Rave Scene.. This was spot on, in our new world of love, music, and ecstasy the days of violence seemed no longer necessary. The ICF set trends throughout its life and some ex-members are still setting them. This book sets a new trend in books on football violence. It is a first . Well played Cass, I hope that thousands buy this book, marvel at the feats and learn about what it was like to be part of that very special group of firms within firms in those dark days before we experienced Sky TV, Gabby Logan, Champions League TV, exhorbitant ticket prices, World Cups in Japan and Korea, Blair in a Newcastle shirt and even me supporting Man Utd on TV, right or wrong. We were Inter city, Cool and casual and now it is so long, Farewell. Up the Hammers. Oh by the way if we could get singing back into Football that would make us all happier men as we enjoy our middle age......
3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on 30 October 2009
I loved this book - probably because of the relevancy of the ICF and how other firms have attempted to emulate and copy West Hams dominance through the 70's & 80's. Respect is shown by the author, in that Cass gives others (within the ICF) the opportunity to give accounts of rows and events. Informative read and a fascinating insight into how the ICF was set up and by whom. Its shows clear `organisation' within the ICF when other firms were in their infancy and getting out manoeuvred by Gardner, Cass and Co. Great read and well written by the author.
3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on 4 August 2009
A decent attempt and at least it was written with a genuine desire to record social history. But the myth of the ICF evaporated when they got booted all over Manchester and LIverpool when they attempted to prove themselves Up North in the mid 1980's. At least Cass half admits this in the book but I think he was conscious of upsetting the rest of the boys and so prolongs the myth.
14 of 19 people found the following review helpful
on 24 September 2003
Like all of these types of books, the style is highly readable and content gripping especially for those that have followed football for some of these periods (Super Leeds!). The book slightly disappointed with the accounts becoming a little repetitive. There is also surprisingly little on the Cass Penant himself, though the book is a must for any decent footy fan.