A bone-chilling film that exposes the terrifying new wave of football hooliganism is set to cause a storm when it is aired later this month. For unlike the snarling yobs who battle each other up and down the country to claim bragging rights over their rivals, these tough-nuts don’t fight anyone — except themselves.
The documentary, shot over last season, follows the new scene in the thug life at football — the self-harm mobs. Injury-inflicting crews (many of them snarling so we can include the word in the headline) from every club in the land assemble prior to their team’s games. But unlike the more traditional antics of top boys, no punches are thrown at rival nutjobs, no kicks aimed at enemies. Instead, this lunatic fringe beat THEMSELVES up.
Leading anthropologist Joe Turner-Thaitit, has documented the lives of the set-harm firms from clubs such as Arsenal, Stockport County, Hamilton Academical and Preston North End. He said:
“It’s a terrifying, shocking and frankly appalling new trend in the world of these yobs — but then again I would say that as I am trying to garner as much publicity for the film as possible.”
Turner-Thaitit, who is a professor of anthropology at Chichester University, says he uncovered the self-harm mobs (SHMs) during a rail trip to watch his favourite team, Portsmouth, in a pre-season friendly at Stockport County. In between long drags on what appeared to be an herbal cigarette, he explained:
“As I approached Edgeley Park, I thought I could see a bit of a dust-up going on. It’s not unusual for Pompey fans to have a bit of a tear-up with other fans. Ever since the days of the 657 firm there are certain elements who have had a bit of a reputation. But this was different. This lot were all home fans. And they weren’t beating on anyone other than themselves. Self-harming!
“I got talking to a lad who in between him punching himself in the ear and he told me it was the latest thing among hooligans. The rest is history. I spent months getting to know these lads and fisticuff merchants from other clubs, too. The documentary tells their story.”
In the film, Ricky Pontiff-Cleric, 43, a welder from Cleethorpes and a follower of Christmas Island FC, lifts the lid on just how he came to become embroiled with the SHMs scene. He said:
“It’s such a weak thing to beat up a fan of another football club. Yes, in the old days that was where the buzz was; but these days it’s all about giving yourself a good beating. The more damage you can do to yourself the better. That’s the way I see it anyway and I know a lot of lads who feel the same way. Slowly but surely it will eradicate firms fighting each other.”
Self-harm hooligans; The New Football Hooligan Scourge is on Channel 4, 4am, on July 32nd.