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VILLAINS : The Inside Story of Aston Villa's Hooligan Gangs Paperback – 10 Feb 2008
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Well first of all as a previous reviewer points out the book is told from the point of view of each individual narrating his own personal experience at various grounds around the country. What is a little different however, and something I didnt expect is that a large part of the book is concerning events in the 70s rather than 80s and 90s.
A second point is many of the events narrated Villas 'firm' dont exactly come off well (Millwall for example in the 70s, Ipswich, Liverpool) also they are not shy to point out that they are more than willing to use knives against their opponents and often gloat as slashing and stabbing various rival across the country.
The contributors; well all are pretty decent and fairly honest though I have to say 'black Danny' as he calls himself seems to not only at times lives in the world of fantasy but also suffers from the schizophrenia that many of these ex hooligan writers do. Take for example his saying he never "Attacked a civilian" (Presumably he means normal fan) Then says he stole scarves as a prize (Though criticizes Liverpool fans for doing the same to him) Drags a Liverpool fan who is curled up in a ball under a car and slashes him across the face with a Stanley knife.
His other entry into the realm of fantasy is him taking his "firm" into the riots in Birmingham. They way Danny talks you would think he started it and leading his 'troops' into battle. I mean seriously, are we now going to have some Everton or Liverpool hooligan claiming that his firm led the Toxteth riots? The ICF were behind the Brixton riots? In all honestly Dannys contributions just bring the book down to the typical run of the mill hooligan fantasy book (While Danny take a kicking he always gets revenge, often knocks people out with a single blow, outnumbered takes on mobs and now even takes responsibility for mass riots in Birmingham)
The book also makes sure it takes a pop at the Birmingham Zulus and the 2 books they wrote. Now I have read both and while the contributors to Villains make some good points (For example pointing out that City had a large far right following themselves (Black White and Blue does point out the same thing by the way) They fail to answer the questions regarding Villas own far right hooligan following that's not just documented in Blues books but also in the book "No Retreat" Which points to Combat 18 having a large base amongst Villas hooligans) Now considering the 2 authors of the book are from London and Manchester I doubt this was City propaganda)
Other negatives are the comments about Juve fans fighting with knives rather thans fists (Remember Danny slashing a cowering Liverpool fan anyone?) And please, lets just drop this "We were the first multi racial firm" BS. I have heard it from the Zulus (The book Guvnors doesnt really mention it) and numerous others. Maybe the idea is to appeal to the modern audience who has no idea of what things were like back in the 70s and 80s but black football hooligans were largely considered the "lost black folk" The kind who would join in with their white friends attacking lone black people walking home at night or running rampage in Asian areas to be accepted. Cass Pennant even mentions black ICF lads joining in NF marches in his biography Cass.
Aside from Danny most of the other contributors are honest and to the point. They recognise their faults and while the stories they tell are brutal and there is nothing admirable in what they have done at least there is a realism and honesty that has to be respected.
For anyone looking for a good insight into football hooliganism in the 70s and 80s I highly recommend this book. Its violent and brutal and at times does not make pleasant reading but its a whole lot better than some of the rubbish out there.
Stands along side the book Guvnors by Micky Francis.
Ive read most of the football violence books and most of them are the usual " 5 of us went to Millwall, and smashed 300 of them", no you didnt !! they are mickey mouse bull**** stories, these lads have as many stories of getting the wrong end of a result as well as the good days at the office.
The lads concerned put their stories across well, and are brutally honest, Paul Brittle takes more slaps in once incident at Leicester than the whole West Ham firm take in their book. Dannys chapter about Liverpool at home is harrowing, as it takes you into another world of violence that most people can only have nightmares about, never mind being involved in.
What I did like was the way the sub chapters within each chapter are told by a different lad with a different angle, and the story flows nicely, without you getting bogged down as if one person alone had written it.
The chapter about Blues is good, as it gives them credit for being a class firm in the mid 80's and only a fool would not acknowlege that, but also ridicules them as a club, Brittle is so funny(and spot on)when he describes the differences between the 2 clubs .
All in all one of the best books Ive read on this subject, along with Naughty by Mark Chester of Stoke, and The Frontline by Boro.
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