Vital Latics member fazman remembers a darker time in English football that was brought back to the now last night, lets see what he has to say, over to you Fazman:
Before you read this and think that I`m a thug, or proud of what I`m telling you what you have to understand is that its something I`m extremely embarrassed about and something that was looked upon completely different when I was growing up.
You see in the late 70s and early 80s Hooliganism (a word that I think makes it sound a bit more acceptable) was reaching a peak in the UK. When I was a kid going to football you didn`t see women or young children at football, this was a place men went, and a place that men got rid of their anger and frustration. It was a sometimes scary place but a place where people bonded.
Then attitudes began to change and with Heysel and Hillsborough we were given the stadia that the national game deserved and with that Football Violence disappeared from the mainstream. However it has still been there just normally away from grounds and simmering under with just a small incident bringing it back to the forefront.
Its just a strange coincidence that tonight we play Blackpool and that`s were my one and only experience of joining in with Football violence took place. Yeah I`d had tear ups over football (including a black eye from a Gillingham fan that wanted a chip) but never at a game however it was around 1997 to 1999 and we had Blackpool in the league and it was the day Wigan took over Blackpool.
It was a beautiful sunny day as we all jumped the train to arrive in Blackpool for a late kick off. The day went as a usual seaside trip went, pub to pub, a trip to the jaggy thistle for the jelly wrestling and gradually making our way closer and closer to the ground getting drunker and drunker. As we got closer to the ground the bad feeling increased and we had 3 or 4 near misses in the back streets of Blackpool as we out ran their hooligan element (nowadays it wouldn`t be possible I think I`d rather take a beating than have a heart attack) and we arrived at the hovel to be ushered straight into the ground.
I ended up next to a piece of netting about 2.5 metres wide and as the other side of the netting filled up I realised the ones we had outrun were going to be my close neighbours. Nowadays I`d have probably had a bit of banter with them but back then as a highly testosterone fuelled man I gave back everything that was given to me. After we scored though it took a big dip from words to coins and cans being thrown over the netting. By this point it was belting it down and luckily this affected the aim of the knuckle draggers though I was still getting the cut throat signals.
Now being a lot younger and my reactions being a lot faster I decided to reach out and catch one of the cans. I jumped like a gazelle and soared like a eagle to collect a can full of liquid that was flying over my head and like a Roy Carroll throw as I landed I pulled back and spun it out of my hand like any good goalkeeper in the country. It left my hand like an exocet missile and flew over the top of the netting and hit its target. Now being absolutely smashed the target it hit wasn`t the target that I aimed for. Instead it hit the top of a Bobbies` helmet and sent it and the liquid spilling over the said Policemen. This was met by a great roar from the Blackpool end and now this thug from the netting wanting to be my best mate. I was lucky that day and escaped without being caught and you`ll always see the Fazman on his best behaviour around Blackpool now. However I did get my comeuppance.
It was only on the train home as we warmed up I realised the liquid was giving off a pungent aroma as did half the carriage. It was at this point I realised the liquid in the can was Piss and that I`d unwittingly given myself and Blackpool`s finest a Golden shower.
Fast Forward to February 2000 and as an older and not much wiser bloke I decided to take my 2 year old Godson to his first football match. It just happened to be Wigan vs. Stoke and the things I saw that day made me sure that Violence had no place around football.
You see some people look back at the peak of hooliganism as a golden era and yeah the fashion was great, the music crap and the trouble terrible. The problem is nowadays films like the Football Factory, Green Street and the up and coming The Firm do nothing but glamourise this era to the kids growing up today. Don`t get me wrong I do think that in some ways the youth of today have no way of taking out there frustrations but hooliganism is not the way to take out your aggression. In fact these films should be made to show the other side of the coin with Banning orders, Broken Bones and Death.
We at Wigan have been very lucky over recent years in that we don`t have a lot of trouble in and around the ground especially when you think in non league we were revered as the best non league hooligans. But we need to make sure that football is safe for everyone, everywhere, no matter what age, race or sex
I would much rather sit next to a woman at a game than my friendly thug from Blackpool, especially if she`s got big tits!
Sorry Wigginer and any other girls! Unless you want to come sit near me that is!
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