Hooliganism in the late 20th century

The rise of hooliganism

While the 1950s and the early 1960s were marked mostly by sudden outbursts of violence amongst football supporters, the late 1960s onward saw an increase in organised mobs that provoked conflicts intentionally, attacking the opposition’s fans either during football matches, or in the street. It became a tradition of sorts for groups of hooligans to travel the country and fight with rival supporters, often in the streets before or after the matches. Football supporters of the same team would also fight amongst themselves, as different factions - based on their level of violence, ideology, social class, neighbourhood, or district – started to form.   

In the 1970s, organised groups of hooligans called “firms” began to emerge, each with their own title, some inspired by their favourite team. A few examples are The Herd (Arsenal team), Derby Lunatic Fringe (Derby County), Villa Hardcore (Aston Villa), Hull City Psychos (Hull City), Inter City Firm (West Ham United), Red Army (Manchester United), etc. Other terms for hooligans emerged – they were sometimes called “casuals”, “army”, “crew”, or “boys”.

In the 1970s, racial tensions were high in Britain, including in the football world. Black footballers’ presence on the football field became more frequent, including many first-generation Afro-Caribbean players who immigrated to Britain in the late 1940s. Hooligans would harass black players, shouting racists chants at them, and ...

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