this article contains spoilers
Hooliganism noun violent or rowdy behaviour by young troublemakers
Who can forget the scenes of fans swarming towards and fighting their way past the stewards at Wembley stadium before the Euro 2020 final? Maybe not what some would classify as hooliganism when you look back through footballing history but just look at the definition – it was hooliganism.
The first recorded incident was in 1885 and one hundred years later all English football clubs were banned by UEFA from all European competitions (although initially an indefinite ban it was, for most clubs, lifted after five years; Liverpool’s lasted a year longer as their fans were involved in the incident that led to the ban). I’m not saying that England are the only country that have hooligans, far from it, but where there is football there will nearly always be hooliganism of a sort.
The Football Factory (2004)
Drink, drugs and violence (with a little sex thrown in) seems to be the order of the day and there seems to be no storyline at all. Apologies to those that feel the man is a gift to acting but I can’t stand Danny Dyer – he couldn’t act his way out of a paper bag as far as I’m concerned – so him playing the main character in this film slightly ruined it for me; I also struggled to see how his character could afford (even with a possible housemate in Rod) what looked like the same style house as his boss on the salary of a florist ‘warehouse’ boy’s wages especially when his Granddad lived in a council flat! To be honest Grandad Bill and Albert, his best friend, (played by the late Dudley Sutton and John Junkin) were the best characters in this film, and the only ones that I cared about, and they were subsidiary to the main plot – says a lot! This film always seems to rank high in most lists for ‘football hooligan films’ on the internet, personally, unless you enjoy watching senseless violence I don’t see why. It was nice to see that this film is about Chelsea ‘hooligans’ (you can’t say fans as they only care about the violence – there isn’t a second of football in this film at all) when most seem to be based around West Ham or Millwall’s. One of the taglines of this film is ‘What else you gonna do on a Saturday?’ I tell you what you can do, sit down and watch the team you claim to support and not this film!
This film is a lot darker than other films of this type. Shadwell Town, based on Millwall FC, has a strong faction of Hooligans that the police want to infiltrate and the main plot follows the four-officer team that are sent in and the dark, downward spiral that one is soon caught up in. Yes there is violence but it’s not as overt as others show but that, in my opinion, is what makes it darker. Again no football action is seen but at least there is action on the terraces and more ‘colours’ than some films of this ilk.
Unlike The Football Factory this film has a decent linear plot, a good script and a ‘star studded’ cast, including Reece Dinsdale, Philip Glenister, Claire Skinner and Warren Clarke. It is also Phil Davis’ directorial feature film debut.
Green Street (2005)
I never thought I would ever get emotionally invested in a film about football hooliganism but here we have it – Green Street. The one thing this has over and above the other two is humanity. Yes it is about the GSE (Green Street Elite – West Ham’s ‘firm’) but there is more to it than the violence, everyone has a human side. Looking at the main characters they all have jobs (teacher, call centre operative, courier even pilot to say a few), they have relationships and they have respect and manners (Pete even gives his seat up to a woman on the train). You learn more about the nature of a ‘firm’ especially the relationship between West Ham and Millwall.
Everything I knew about this film says hooligans – the name, the tagline “Stand Your Ground and Fight” – but there is so much more to it. A wonderful script (with proper dialogue and decent characters), a brilliant cast (including Elijah Wood and Charlie Hunnam), an intense soundtrack and great direction (the fight scenes are intense and realistic – they’re aggressive but it doesn’t look like middle aged men just swinging at each other there is proper choreography here) and there is even a little football.