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United Hooligans, Anti-England and David Beckham

I’ve had my fair share of scraps over football in my time, but never the organised hooligan business. Whilst not something I’d be involved in personally, I am intrigued about how it all works. Why do they go around kicking the crap out of people every weekend? Do they really love the club? How much of it goes on these days?

I’ve read a few hoolie books but I got stuck in to Tony O’Neill’s Men in Black this summer. O’Neill, the supposed Red Army General, gives an honest insight to what it was like being heavily involved in United’s main firm.

A few pages in O’Neill gives us a few clues of what kind of bloke he is, and instantly I knew this was going to be my kind of book.

The England scene has never been one that got me going, for one reason: being a United fanatic, the passion for my team consumed everything in me. No way could I get passionate about watching anyone else, not even my national team. United has consumed my life, so trying to watch and sing along with any other fans does nothing for me. All my excitement is with United, from getting up in the morning on a match day to going to bed. I still can’t get my head round how people can switch, you support your team from childhood until death, that’s how it should be.

Here are some of my other favourite bits:

The final was the best thing in my life. I nearly had a heart attack. I couldn’t breathe when the first goal went in and the next one, I couldn’t hear my son and he was screaming on the chair next to me. My ears had popped and my lungs were coming through my throat. I couldn’t hear anything and this went on from the first goal to the second. It was the best feeling ever, and if I hear the commentary again or see the pictures, the hairs on my neck stand on end. There is no way in the world you can beat that script. You’ll never get that again.

England played Finland at Anfield. It’s not my scene, but people were saying they were going, and at the end of the day, I’m off. We arrive at Lime Street, get off and the police are there. Who are they bothered about? Man United.

That day was typical of the English hoolie bollocks at these games. Everybody hates Man United and they’re always going on about what they will do to us. Well that day there were different firms from all over the country and all they did was stay in Liverpool city centre drinking with each other, letting on to each other and avoiding each other.

In August 2002 I did a trip to Budapest to watch United in a Champions League qualifying round against Zalaegerszeg. We all stood there and couldn’t believe what we were watching. No-one expected to see such an inept performance against a bunch of schoolteachers, mineworkers and bus drivers – and they scored near the end fot win 1-0. The game was a joke. There was no effort from any of the players.

Back at the airport everyone was gutted. A few fans are singing, ‘It’s just like watching City.’ They were loyal Reds; they weren’t being abusive, they were taking the piss because that was the mood. The United players were going through Departures at the time and one kid where I’m stood says something to them. Next thing, David Beckham strides over as though he’s the main man. ‘Who are you?’ he says to this kid. ‘Call yourself a United fan?’ The kid didn’t know what to say but I went straight over. ‘Who the fuck do you think you are, you seventy grand a week, overpair bastard? Fuck off before you get knocked out.’ He had a fucking cheek after that performance, having a go at someone who had paid money to follow the team. Beckham quickly sized up the situation, turned on his heels and scuttled off, followed by me hurling more abuse.

Next thing I’m in a Cat D jail in Sudbury, between Derby and Stoke. What a joke. Some City fans were in there who’d got three years. The first thing that comes out of their mouths is that it’s my fault they received such long sentences, as I got three years nine months and the courts now think that’s the norm. Yet these idiots had only filmed themselves attacking a pub full of Stockport, put the film on the internet, then couldn’t understand why they were arrested. They were the saddest twats I’d ever seen; they even wore clothes with ‘City’ written on. Maybe in the property office in Reception they had their inflatable bananas tucked away.

I will always be a United fan and I will always follow them, but in a different way. The trouble is over. I will always have lots of fantastic friends there because at the end of the day United is one thing: a family. And everyone else hates us.

Check out this book and others in the RoM Recommendations, with it going for less than 3 quid.

About Scott

Scott is the editor of Red Matters - 50 Years of Supporting Manchester United and an author of Play Like Fergie's Boys and Not Nineteen Forever. He writes for ESPN, The Metro and Bleacher Report. Follow @R_o_M on Twitter.

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  1. Stephen says:

    HA HA Beckham what a twat.

  2. Gary says:

    Tony O’Neill…..has he grown up yet? The man is a joke!

    I have a passion running inside me for United, I live and breath the club and of course I lose my temper in the heat of the moment. Organised hooliganism tho? These blokes need to grow up its embarassing. Its this whole im hard, male bonding shit, not for me, all a bit gay to be honest.

  3. Mic says:

    Meh, i’ve had heated arguments over United but i’d never let it result to a fight, I love United and I agree, whenever I hear the commentary, see pictures or watch the final, hell, I almost get a hard on! (bit of exaggeration) but it was one of my greatest days in my life but to spend time in prison and what not, well it’s not a lack of love for my club but it’s more common sense, you need to get your head sorted but anyway, well done to the bloke, I imagine he’d earn a nice bit of money as people would enjoying reading stuff like that.

  4. Gary says:

    Dont tell me you have any admiration for this bloke Scott? Im not trying to start an argument just a debate. You say about Becks being a publicity hound but Becks appeals to people and he has a talent, he was a great servant for United. This bloke on the other hand is an old man who never grew up and went around the country acting like an animal, imagine having this bloke as dad, I would be bloody ashamed of of him! Hes trying to get publicity even tho hes nothing but a common thug! I find it insulting that twats like this get any atrention and even make money out of being an holligan by writing a bloody book!

  5. Gary says:

    Im not a literate by the way. I just type bloody fast and never check the comment lol.

  6. UnitedRay says:

    Egoistic traitor

  7. Jeoff says:


  8. Raisnhell says:

    Hhahaha!! Nice!!

  9. Jeoff says:

    You guys continue to epitomise everything that is rotten in contemporary football. It saddens me that kids are going to read and potentially be influenced by this dross. You should be ashamed.

  10. theboy says:


    Why does everyone get on the moral high ground with things like this? If you buy the book, you know what you’re getting, right?

    They’re all pretty much of a muchness. I do find the excuse about kids may see it and get the idea to do it, very, very lame. Do you watch films that have violence in them? What’s the difference? And films are a hell of a lot more accessible than books.

    I find books like this good toilet books. What I mean is, when you go for number 2, you can have a good read for 5 mins, and chortle, “as we ran ‘em again and again”.

    Besides, i never tire of hearing vermin getting battered.

  11. Jeoff says:

    Fair point, although I do wonder how much a young Man. United fan buys into this whole siege mentality thing you’ve got going on here.The difference is that when an adult watches something they’re capable of seeing violence as glorified because they usually have experiences of their own to compare against, whereas some children may not. Just strikes me as a bit irresponsible to be openly condoning things like this- however some of the comments aren’t so that’s encouraging.

  12. Stephen says:

    Jeoff, I think you are getting obsessed with United, if you dislike our club/fans why do you continually post comments on this website on not one of your own clubs?

  13. Jig says:


    Hooligans are sooo last season.

  14. Jeoff says:

    I haven’t said anything about your club or fans Steve, I’m just intrigued by the mentality of this site, hence my prolonged interest.

  15. Stephen says:

    “You guys continue to epitomise everything that is rotten in contemporary football”
    “Good to see United fans overlooking the ever-tenuous opportunity to add another scorn-laden and smug “article” about Arsenal to praise and say thank you and goodbye to a departing player. Sterling stuff as always Republic of Mancunia, you are a beacon amidst the dark puerility of football supporters.”
    You have.

  16. Jeoff says:

    “You guys” was referring to your site. Second one was a sweeping generalisation, so apologies. Obviously I don’t believe all United fans to be like some of the people on here.

  17. Stephen says:

    Jeoff, what are you doing on this site if you detest the people on it so much, and what makes you or your club different or better?

  18. Jeoff says:

    Already answered that one Steve. No need to get defensive either, I haven’t at any point said that me or my club is better- nor is it relevant.

  19. Stephen says:

    I wasn’t getting defensive I was just inquiring actually.

  20. scottjohnsaul says:

    say what you want about him but he has led hundreds of lads against people who hate united . He would never walk past a united fan getting filled in i,m sure you would run a mile GARY . I know who i,d rather go to Liverpool away with (if he could still go ) . To top it off with the hatred against us i,m glad we have a firm that can more than look after themselves .ta scott

  21. Livingston says:

    Im a big footie fan but I kind of feel sorry for oneil who wasted most of his life not realising that theres more to life than just fucking man utd because it seems that he is extremely in love with the club and that nothing else means more to him which is fucking pathetic. a question for oneil “what have you achieved from acting like a thug?”

  22. Livingston says:

    All he gives a fuck about in life is man united what a loser

  23. clarets chris says:

    Having just read Tony o’Neill’s book RED ARMY GENERAL, I would like to make the following comment. I waqs born in 1966 in Royton in Lancashire but moved to Barrowford at a very young age,played lots of footbal and grew up as a Burnley fan (for my sins). I am still a loyal Claret and although I have never been involved in any form of hooliganism other than getting in a few scrapes over the years having to defend myself.
    There was a few statements from Mr O’neill that I can personally clarify. I remeber Burnley playing UTD on a boxing day when I was very young when we were both in the second division and it all kicked off after the game when we were going back to my uncles car. He was giving it large and my dad, who was a police officer at the time was trying to help him. I didn’t have a clue what to do until a UTD supporter put a stop to the scrape.The man put his arm on my shoulder and told his crew that this was no place for this to happen infront of a boy. My dad and uncle held their own but it would have not have been for very much longer,as they are more than prepared to admit.Whovever that man was proves that there can be honour among theives, albeit a token gesture.I am now 44 yrs. old but will never forget that day AND BY GOD DID I GROW UP THAT DAY!. Whoever you were and if you read this THANKS MY DAD IS UGLY ENOUGH.

  24. Livingston says:

    scottjohnsaul you’re a fucking ideot! who in their right mind gives a shit about some irish scumbag that went around having fights with other firms??? you compare someone like that to a global superstar like Beckham who has earnt nearly billions? lol He spent most of his life behaving like a thug and getting knicked.Besides the book is pretty boring wouldn’t recommend to anyone, waste of money.

  25. Manc says:

    Question for Livingston – “what have you achieved from acting like a cunt?”

  26. scottjohnsaul says:

    Re ;livingston comment get your head out of your backside I did not mention beckham.Why did you buy the book you already had your mind made up. Did you think it was about a Russian Army General or something . Merry Christmas to all fellow reds

  27. bluecocksucker says:


  28. youdy says:

    tony oneil is a fuckin legend my uncles were big united crew members of the original icj firm from the salford reds my uncle is mentioned in the book as one hard bastard ronnie youd aka youdy my uncle paul was stabbed in montpellier in the quqrter final of the cup winners cup in 1991 but lives to tell the tail of spending 3 month in a south of france hospital the united crew had a collection to pay for flights home and hospital bills and raised over 20 grand on a match day at old trafford

  29. Livingston says:

    Manc shut the fuck up you’re the cunt who worships a complete cunt.

  30. Livingston says:

    scottjohnsaul Nah funnily enough i knew it was about a thug named Tony O’neil i read it years back when i was into hooligans but i now i just look back how shit it all is.

  31. miki says:

    Was that man in Zagreb?? Is he the one who was hidding from Bad Blue Boys (Dinamo Zagreb fans) ??

  32. gavin begg says:

    Its the usual tall tales and biased account of things that went on.

    I was there in the 80s as a Liverpool fan and ,would have to say,UTD did have a huge mean firm,no doubt. To suggest they never got turned over is childish ,school ground drivel. I saw Liverpool,and EVerton a LOT< KICKING UTD firm all over home and at UTD. These are FATs that O Neil chooses to leave outt or say 'we had to retreat'IE we run away as we were getting thumped. Why not just say how it was .UTD had a massive firm due to the cockneys,lets get it right. Most time we had UTD turn uo they had cocknwey,yorshire accents. Yes they did have mancs but the majority were yorkies and Londoners.This is a fact. to say otherweis is stupid. This meant they had a huige traveeling firm everywhere they wnt. This is the reason they were hated,they had so many hangers on,by weight of numbers they would get results,but not through a manc firm. O Neil doesnt say this in any detail. Thats the reason this bnooks are treated with contempt by lads that were there. I know UTD lads who say the same,genuily!

    Oneil ,if hes being honest would haver to admit, that UTD would never have got the results,especialy in London and MIdalnds if it werent for the hangers on boulsrtering their numbers by hundreds.In respect they did bring big manc firms to Liverpool with little cockneys showing in Liverpool.They only ever showed in Manchester fixtures.

    All in all there would have been a good book there as UTD were 1 of the best when it counted! But to miss out why they got these results and suggest it was him and his salford manc lot is a joke[a big joke]

    The London firms werre the best head for head in my memory.. The mancs and Liverpool fims relied on numbers whereas Chelsea[were a big firm too] west ham and Spurs all relied on each other as a firm that was close knit

    For that reason a league table would look like this[in my mewmeory anyway for what its worth]
    Millwall/West Ham/Chelsea[canot seperate them as they all had times of dominance]
    Toon/Arsenal/Birmingham/Cardiff[ a 90's firm at best so cant eb included in elite firms as they didnt do it often enough when it counted]

    No doubt allegiances will dictate others thoughts. Having been involved South and North for over 20 years this is my memories as unbiased as I can. Lets face it we have all grown up and coulkdnt care what we did as teens and 20/early 30s[cringe] anymore. Id feel stupid arguing or fighting at a match now. It was a laugh when you were a kid or defending yourself when you are 30.After that youd make yourself look a mug

    Oneil is a mug.Fighting at football when he was almost 50,wtf,i guess that sums him up. A bully, Nobody from West Ham Cjelsea no who he was. Its only the salford lot and scousers who know him. A self imposed top boy,LOL!

  33. Terry walsh says:

    what the fuck do these fairys read the book for if they dont like ‘fisticuffs’ and fucking livingston ‘re-born’ fuck off you prick..there will allways be violence between football fans, allways…so that being the case, when my kids go to watch united im fucking glad its not like it was. i bet most of you whinging fuckers were part of the anti-smoking brigade..? i love it when i get the story’s from a couple of mates who are part of uniteds firm, its a take or leave situation regarding liking or disliking the battles but if you dont like it dont read the fucking books then come on here and other sites giving it your ‘bah! its very naughty,and you might dirty each others clothes shit…i bet the majority of the ‘up in arms about chinning each other brigade’ will be watching some kind of shit american film where stallone kills everyone who is taller than him so he wipes out the playground…then their mams and dads,then a car flips over and blows up the outdoor and everyones lifeline is fucked as the booze licks the flames, so the ones stallone dident batter the twat out off or kill, they all did a mass suicide because the outdoor is a nowtdoor now and then taxi driver turned up with the godfather and lee-van cleef and they kicked off about the taxi-fare and this is the shit that the majority of people watch and your all fuckin contradictions who i bet that when at home one or two get their michael jackson cd’s on and sing every fucking word – and he slept with bin lids! so for the love of hideousness ……fuck off..

  34. Terry walsh says:

    GAVIN BEGG your comment ,though some time ago brought to mind one of those people, you know the ones, no matter what game, which part of the country, they went to all the matches -on the same day! not only that, they were lucky enough to see all the different fights too! and not only that- this enabled them to fashion a ‘thug table’ even including several irn brew firs…..but you swipe at united with your non-manc put down, how a manc firm would falter in london (manc firm run west ham brick lane.)…
    but anyway, just one question? – why does it seem a lot of firms despise the liverpool firms over the years with their love of scarring people beyond repair with their ‘big hard stanleys? and i even know an old mate, city fan at maine rd, 13 year old, he said he asked for directions for his turnstile off a bloke who was a liverpool fan AND used the old 2 blade trick right down F…..’S face…however you look at it its fucking sick..just thought i would ask your thoughts? you seem a decent geezer so im hoping you may have a peep on here and rely.

  35. stoyan says:

    i am writing from Athens Greece as i am member of one big club in Athens i have to say that all haters are the ones that sit at home on there couch and watch football when others spend a lot of ther money to travell around to see there team play..!!!thats what i call loyalty to your team!


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