Holywell Street recently hooked up with Lanarkshire’s Iain McMillan. He is a long-term friend of mine and has recently written his first publication. Iain has always been an interesting character in all things football to a subculture which is why he is perfect for this blog section. I’ve always felt his creative streak was overdue. He has had a colourful past from the terrace scene with Motherwell, and his obsession with designer threads and music he has also travelled through some dark times. We could converse all day and usually do, but it is also good to get his memoirs on paper. We met up in McChuills – Glasgow’s Legendary Music Bar on High Street the only place to be.
Good to see you mate, I want to start with the book. I’m glad to see as much as your passion for reading you have now started writing. How and when did the idea come about?
I have written bits and pieces for a few years, mainly just for myself. I always found the process of writing enjoyable and therapeutic. I then wrote some articles in some Motherwell fanzines and contributed to Paninaro magazine. Always pieces about fashion or terrace culture, something I have always been into. When we went into the initial lockdown boredom got the better of me and I began battering away at the keyboard again with no real plan. I just thought I’d have a go at a short story. A few months later I had half the book written, and it flowed naturally. I got a real buzz out of writing it and enjoyed the whole creative thing which I never explored in myself in any great depth before. I found something in myself I didn’t know was there and just went with it not really knowing if it would ever be seen by another soul. When I finished it, I felt I would take the plunge and put it out there.
I like the title of the book I imagine there is a connection to a famous track or anything else linked there?
The title was just a working title initially. Like some of the names in the book I just used the first ones that came to mind when writing thinking I may change them at the end. I am obviously aware of the song and love The Smiths but there is no connection to the Manchester band. When I finished writing the book the title seemed to sit well, alcohol was well and truly a thorn in the main character’s side. So, I kept it, sometimes it’s good to go with your gut instinct and not edit your thoughts too much.
I enjoyed the book as more of a take on the character and his compulsive personality and going through the youth movements of the time rather than an average hooligan book, would you agree?
Totally. I made a conscious effort not to make the book a “hoolie book”. Although the casual thing was a part of the story, there was so much more to the casual scene than just fighting at the football. Clothes were an obsession for most and not just those of us with a compulsive nature. I wanted to show the lengths we went to obtain items of clothing in an era before credit cards or having a great deal of money. It was difficult being head-to-toe in Armani when you were earning £29.50 on a Youth Training Scheme but somehow, we would make it happen by any means. The clothes meant that much to us. I always felt that to those outside the casual scene, it can be misunderstood in a way and just seen as Neanderthals drinking and fighting at the football, but it simply wasn’t like that. There was the comradery and being part of something special. Like the mods of our generation.
The character in the book Frankie is interesting I’m sure a few will relate to him. Also perhaps a sign of the times living in a Northern town during the eighties where status was more important than anything else.
I think growing up in the eighties was a very tribal time. When I started secondary school, everyone was a mod, punk, or skinhead. Teenagers gravitated towards the tribe they identified most with. I think growing up we all want to feel part of something. The casual thing provided that for many young men looking for a sense of belonging and the fact it included wearing expensive clothes certainly added to your self-esteem. Of course, you only become aware of this in Hinde sight but some of those years shape who you are forever.
That’s a decent point about tribal groups, if you recall the late ’70s or early ’80s you had all those countercultures. Punk, Skinhead, Mod, Heavy Metal and you wouldn’t admit to liking each other’s music.
Yeah, you could get a doing for wearing a Specials patch or admitting to liking Spandau Ballet [laughs] it was the same with the clothes you only stuck with your tribe. I think the new generations are very different.
Frankie comes across more like a tough street romantic who is a deep thinker but just gets caught up in what he sees as status, would you agree?
I wanted the character Frankie to have some depth and be honest about his struggles and insecurities. Not just make him a one-dimensional hardman character. I don’t think many of us are like that in all honesty. I think you can be masculine and sensitive at the same time. I wanted to show a side of Frankie that people could identify with. I think the character Frankie was a bit lost and the status he finds within the casuals gives him something he is missing. It makes him feel part of a family unit he lacked at home.
Motherwell seems to have a decent Ultras Scene over there, very impressed with their mental health awareness projects as well. Do you still attend matches?
I go to every home game and a few away every season. I am pushing fifty now and I still feel being part of something at Motherwell is as important to me as it always was. It has just evolved a bit over the years. The ultras are the generation below me and the Well Bois have done a great job to bring atmosphere to Fir Park and they make a big effort with displays week in and week out. Block E are the up-and-coming ultras. They are both very community minded and are always helping out with foodbank collections and making a contribution to the town. I think it’s the way football clubs should be, about the whole community not just supporting the team.
It’s that time again for your Top three Adidas shoes?
Trimm Trab Zx 600 New York
In your opinion did the Casuals kill Stone Island or did Stone Island kill the Casuals?
Personally, I still like Stone Island but it’s not what you wear it’s how you were it as the quote says. However, there is a uniform that goes with it for example Adidas trainers and perhaps Aqua scarf. I have many friends who just won’t wear it. I still like Barbour and CP Company also Nigel Cabourn. These days I like to mix it up with a retro look. I’m not as closed-minded these days.
And can you give us your all-time favourite five albums?
Paul Weller – Wild Wood John Martyn – Solid Air The Beatles – Rubber Soul Ocean Colour Scene – Mosley Sholes Roddy Frame – Surf
Let’s talk about recovery. There seem to be a few people from our era that are working on themselves in a positive way. I noticed in the book that the character realised you don’t have to drink alcohol every day to be an alcoholic?
The word alcoholic has been demonised somewhere along the way. We grow up in a country steeped in booze thinking that alcoholics are strictly the guys sleeping on park benches. Guys who drink white lightning and beg for money. These unfortunates are in the minority of people with drinking problems. The stereotype is a big barrier for people who are trying to address the drinking issue. It feeds that attitude “But I’m not like that” alive. The truth is there are many out there who when they start drinking, struggle to stop. They accept the unacceptable parts of our drinking culture as we are surrounded by it. Alcoholism is normalised in our culture. Some alcoholics may drink daily but there are lots of us who never have. The after-effects of the weekend binge can be just as crippling.
Back to the book. The character Frankie, can you relate to him through your past?
Although the book is fiction, the story is made up of loads of snippets of my life with a few bits made up to fit the story. The beauty of making it a fictional character is that you can play about with it a bit more. It was my attempt at documenting being young in the eighties and nineties, touching on the casual thing and the evolution into rave culture. I wanted to show the after-effects of a life lived to excess and the struggles with mental health thereafter not just a celebration of youth. I don’t think it’s a doom and gloom story I hope it’s more about redemption.
The book for me is also an education on where trauma can lead to addiction and compulsive disorder. I think this needs to be highlighted more with a mental health epidemic upon us would you agree?
Yeh totally. There is so much more information and research out there these days about trauma’s effects on the brain and how this would lead to the compulsion for alcohol or drugs to increase dopamine or find a state of relaxation that is alien to someone who has suffered trauma. I personally found this information mind-blowing and it made the path to recovery far clearer knowing what you had to address to regain a balanced state of mind. I think the current cocaine epidemic is a great concern as it’s having a massive impact on people’s mental health. Recovery and mental health needs to be out of the shadows and show people there is help and hope.
I also thought it was very interesting when Frankie gets sober he finds it hard to find an outlet to channel into. It shows how it can take a lot of stages to unwind learned habits.
I think part of the problem is when you get sober you can feel a little lost until you find your feet a bit. If your whole social life has revolved around pubs and clubs you need to discover new things to fill your time and stimulate you. I can take time to feel comfortable in new situations without anaesthetic to help you along but as time passes you will experience a far richer life. The addictive part of your nature will also manifest itself in other areas, for me it was buying training shoes and records. Some run marathons, get engrossed in work or take some activity to extreme levels. In my experience, this settles a bit in time. It is better to channel this side of you into something positive though or you may end up sober but bankrupt at the bookies!
From your own point of view, how did you find starting to write and get creative?
I have written small bits here and there for years but just for my own amusement. The spare time the lockdown provided enabled me to indulge in it a bit more with no real plan. I think I wrote more honestly as I never thought another soul would ever read it. The more I wrote the more I enjoyed it and I actually looked forward to getting to the keyboard. It never felt like a chore, I think that helped a lot to keep the writing flowing
And do you have any future plans for working on new material?
My plan is to learn from my mistakes and write another book this year. I want to see if I can improve on my first effort. I have a few ideas right now but I have not yet finalised all the details, but I will hopefully get another out before the year ends. I recently did a podcast in relation to the book and recovery and I’d love to do a few more if possible.
Thanks for meeting us, mate. Cheers to Davie and Frazer for their input also.
The Boy with the Thorn in his Side can be purchased here at amazon…
After reaching a milestone birthday this week. Kevin and the rest of the old skool CSC went on an outing to Paisley. In typical reunion style the old stories did flow. Kev takes us on his trip down memory lane.
I suppose we need to go back to the late 1970’s. Around ’78 or ’79. Around that time a lot of the trouble for us lads from Coatbridge centred on travelling on the train between Coatbridge and Glasgow. At each stop another group of Celtic supporters would get on and eventually certain carriages became associated with different areas, in the regular travel through to Parkhead. There’d be some stops, like Garrowhill, where you’d meet Rangers fans on the platform and it would kick off. You’d get benches thrown through windows and seats launched out, from inside the train. Lads jumping off onto the platform or lads trying to get into the train for a scrap. So that’s where my first experiences of football violence began. I was only a kid travelling on the trains to the matches but it felt like running a gauntlet between Coatbridge and Parkhead.
The next thing that sticks in my mind is the 1980 cup final at Hampden, when there was a huge riot after the final whistle. I can remember going on the Coatbridge supporters’ bus to that game. Celtic had won 1-0 and a couple of young lads had gone on the park and ran up the other end. At the other end, they stopped and kicked a beach ball into the net, and celebrated like it was them who had won the cup. That sparked a whole scale pitch invasion from the rangers end. With loads of older guys all on the park chasing these lads back towards the Celtic end but as soon as the Rangers supporters had taken to the pitch, it obviously sparked our end as well and the Celtic fans took to the field to face them down. One thing I remember clearly is that I looked up at the air above the crowd and it looked like a sea of midges or flies but was actually a sea of bottles, cans and other missiles that were in the air. There was that much being thrown. It was a mental atmosphere. I also remember seeing my first policewoman, on a horse. There was this mounted policewoman, riding a white horse through the crowd whacking people with her batten. The police restored order after some time.
We returned to our supporters’ bus and tried to head for the safety of Coatbridge via Glasgow’s south side. As we were driving along we passed a few Rangers fans, which were waving their scarves and flags and giving us the two fingered salute. One of the boys stuck his arse up to the window and mooned at them. Next thing there seemed to be more and more Rangers fans appearing from nowhere, hundreds of them. The bus driver was new to the job, and didn’t know his way around Glasgow; he’d taken a wrong turning and was driving us back into the city, via, the route for Rangers supporters. Our bus got absolutely wrecked. Smashed (Within a week, drink was banned at football etc…Pre cursor for all laws that were later brought in to curtail football hooliganism)
I come from Coatbridge which is known as little Ireland. It’s a 90% Irish Catholic town and the whole town is Celtic mad. It’s inevitable then, that there would be a few lads that were well up for a bit of soccer violence. In the early days it was a bunch of lads that were quite family orientated. It was a tight unit. We went to the football together, drank together, socialised. The boys I went with from Coatbridge would have been my brother James, Gerry, Fudgy.
For a while it was just us, that tight little group but it was probably me more than the others who had a taste for more, and went on to become a CSC lad. It took me a few months to get to know people and get in amongst it with the CSC. They used to call me Kevin ‘the boys’. It was a kind of affectionate slagging of me because of my slightly different, Coatbridge accent. I was known to always turn up and say ‘Where’s the boys? What’s happening with the boys today? Are the boys coming?’ Hence the nickname. The Glaswegians always used to noise me up at first. We used to go to clubs together at weekends, the warehouse, fury Murray’s. We hung around the pubs at George Square, like Sylvester’s, which became the Berlin Bar. The Berlin became a bit of a stronghold for us. That’s where all the lads used to meet up before jumping on the football specials at Queen Street. We’d head off from Queens Street to places like Aberdeen, Dundee and Edinburgh for matches and scraps.
During the 80’s there were times when there were more than 400 lads on those trains. In a big mob like that you obviously didn’t know everybody, so whether people would stand or run, it was an unknown quantity, until the fighting actually started. Some would stand their ground; some would get off their mark (run). It didn’t matter to me where people came from, as long as they were lads that were up for it. We had middle class, working class, guys with money and guys from really poor backgrounds. But all lads together. One of my pet hates, I remember, was when we tried to organise for the football specials in a more disciplined way, you’d still always have lads that just wanted to do their own thing. You know, we’d try to get people to stay quiet, maybe not get so drunk for particular games, don’t shout and sing and draw attention. Sometimes it worked but many times it didn’t. I hated arriving in places like Aberdeen, hoping to surprise them and the lads would just pour off the train and immediately burst into a chorus of ‘Celtic! Celtic! Celtic!’ which obviously drew police attention to us, and often scuppered our plans to surprise other mobs. I didn’t see the point of having no tactics, just jumping off a train and letting everybody know that you were there.
When we went through to Edinburgh, against Hibs, we’d get off at Waverley, the main station. Hibs had tactics, you’d never see them, and then you’d look up and see a little head looking down from a bridge above you. You’d know they had their spotters out. We’d be given a police escort to take us down leaf walk towards Easter Road. No sooner had you started walking down the road, than you’d just be pelted from all sides of the road by bricks and bottles from Hibs’ CCS mob that had been lying in wait for us. Sometimes you never even saw the people who were throwing the stuff at us that was Hibs. We had a lot of good scraps with Hibs. We respected them and they respected us. Well, most of them anyway. Hibs had a bit of a mixed crew. A lot of what you could say neutral lads when it came to politics or Ireland which is fine, but they also seem to let some right wing influence in with them, some of these lads actually supported Hearts and they seem to be able to still keep their politics and join Hibs which were a bit off centre for us, they all came from different areas of Edinburgh, so some of them would have their own views of Celtic. Some were really sound with us; others weren’t. We were never really bothered about who liked or disliked us.
One of the games that were most significant against Hibs was, obviously, the CS gas bomb game, in 1987. About 40 of us decided to get the train through early. The football special wasn’t scheduled to leave until quarter past one, and we were supposed to wait for the rest of the lads, but we had a brainwave and decided to go through earlier instead. So we get off the train at Haymarket and walked to Easter Road, getting there at about 11.30. There wasn’t a soul around when we arrived in Edinburgh. We decided we’d go into one of the football pubs on Easter road and wait there for a while. There was hardly anyone in it when we went in. So were sitting drinking, and all of a sudden the door opens, and a mixed race lad with an English accent says ‘come on Celtic, outside.’ I don’t even know where this guy appeared from. Some of the boys took up his offer, and charged at the door. We went out on the street as the rest of us came at the door, throwing bottles and tumblers also a flare gets fired at the at the Hibs lads assembled outside. We were caught at the door and the manager and barman came to the door and pulled the shutters down. Within a couple of minutes we got the shutters back up and got outside, only to be confronted by the police. There was no one else in sight, and we couldn’t see our two lads who’d been left on the other side of the pub shutters, when the manager had pulled them down. The police took our names but then let us leave the pub. There was a bit of sporadic boxing between us, and we still only had our 40 odd lads. We got chased a bit, back the way, towards London Road, in the direction of Waverley. We got to this street with them chasing us, and all I could see coming towards us was another 300-400 lads. It was then that I though, we’re gonnae get done silly here, there’s even more Hibs coming.
Then I took a closer look at this mob of 300-400 coming from the other direction. There are two lads at the front wearing Bermuda shorts. I had just remembered that my brother and his mate had gone out that day wearing Bermuda shorts. I’ve went ‘yes, it’s Celtic!’ and Celtic came charging over the hill and it kicked off big time. We had Hibs backing off on their own patch on Easter Road. There was big clashes right in the middle of the road. These continued until the police actually put cars and vans in between us. It was a really serious clash before the game. We felt we’d done well. I think at one point I got decked, but I still managed to pick myself up from the ground, and go for it again. There was one Hibs lads standing in the middle of the road who kept shouting for Celtic to come ahead, so I ran up and smashed him one right on the jaw, he ended up going over a car bonnet. Next thing I knew, I had two coppers on me and was handcuffed. The police just said ‘you’re nicked.’ The funny thing was that the cops then turned to the guy who I had punched over the car and said ‘Are you ok Frank?’ and he said ‘yeah, yeah I’m fine.’ The OB was an undercover cop who’d been deliberately provoking Celtic to fight. I thought he was a Hibs lad. So I end up in the jail, I’m sure the cells I was held in were up near Edinburgh castle. I’m sitting in this cell, totally pissed off. I’ve been nicked, fighting an undercover police officer, not only that, I was gonnae miss the match as well and whatever else was going to kick off at it.
Not long after kick off, shortly after 3 o clock, there were sirens going off everywhere. I thought, must be ambulances, a police car, an accident has happened or something. I didn’t immediately associate it with the match itself. From then on the sirens were continuous; they never stopped, not for ages. They bought a lad in, and I’ve heard them asking him before they allocated him a cell, where he was from and what team he was with. The boy answered, ‘Glasgow, and Celtic.’ About 5 minutes later there was another lad, same again. Celtic boy again. Then another and he was Hibs. I’m thinking, what’s happening here? The games just started! Then suddenly there seemed to be a rush on in the police station, loads of people coming and going, but lots of lads being brought in. I heard a cop saying ‘Listen lads, forget the names, and just answer Celtic or Hibs.’ That’s an indication of just how many people were being arrested and processed by the police. After that people just kept coming in. Celtic, Hibs, Celtic, Hibs, accordingly. I still didn’t know what the hell was going on because they’d get me in a separate cell to other football fans coming in.
At around 8pm that night the police decided to release me. I made my way down to Waverley station and got on the train. As I’m travelling back to Glasgow, there were 4-5 Celtic scrafers, completely drunk… They were sitting in the carriage talking about how disgusted they were at the casuals and things that had happened that day. I got off at Queen Street and headed for the Cellar Bar (under Ingram Hotel) where I knew most of the lads would be. As I was heading there I passed a newspaper vender, selling early editions of the Sunday Mail and that’s when I first found out that the gas bomb had been thrown into the Hibs end. I suppose getting the jail earlier in the day saved me from getting busted like many of the other lads after the gas bomb incident. It was one of those crazy circumstances, everything started off good, and then there was the downside. There was no danger to life, in the end. It was about who was number one. We were out to prove that Celtic was the number one mob.
A lot of the guys are married now, settled down and calmed down. Some have passed away since the 80’s and 90’s, all good lads that we still remember fondly. Big Tony, Gary, Sean, Cha, Martin, Big Peter. Tony was a really good friend of mine, we used to socialise together and always backed each other up.
One story I recall involved Aberdeen’s Casuals. The ASC were a good mob. one of the first casual mobs on the scene in Scotland, if not Britain. They used to bring a big firm down to Glasgow on the football specials. There was another pub called ‘Sundowners’. We’d gather in bars like Berlin and Sundowners, on days of home games, from early in the morning. The baby crew, who were mostly underage, used to hang around the amusement arcade. They would scout around the city centre, checking the bus station and train stations for other casuals arriving. They’d watch the specials coming in and let us know how many lads were coming off those trains. On one occasion Aberdeen have come off the train at Queen Street. One of the baby crew came to the pub and told us, ‘that’s Aberdeen arrived.’ There was one lad there with me who was there for the first time. Aberdeen had come off the train and headed straight for George Square. We came charging out of the pub and went running in a line at them. The two sets of casuals have met in the middle of the square, all I’ve seen is a hand holding a steaky, coming over my shoulder from behind me and slicing into an Aberdeen guy’s shoulder. The boy that was there for the first time, and thought he was quite bold and game went white, backed off saying ‘You lot are nuts, you’re crazy.’ I don’t know what he expected. Aberdeen backed right off. I don’t think they were expecting people to be tooled up, but it’s important to tell the truth, and on this occasion, there were some lads carrying weapons. It wasn’t a regular occurrence as far as we were concerned. If you want to talk about mobs that were always tooled up, you’d really have to talk about Rangers. For years we’d fight mobs like Aberdeen and Hibs toe to toe, fist to fist. Then Rangers started carrying tools, and blades. A few Celtic lads had been stabbed and slashed by them. We actually heard that Rangers lads were making bets with each other about how many Celtic fans they could slash or stab in one day. Turning it into a competition.
In the early days, for a home game where we expected other mobs to come to us, we could easily bring together 400-500 lads. As John O’ Kane commented in his book in the 1980’s Celtic ran the city centre, there was no competition in our own city for most of that decade. In the 90’s, with the rave scene gaining popularity, the pills kicked in. People were getting into other lines of business and making good amounts of money from it. So for a few years the hooligan scene was pretty small. Everybody was too loved up to fight. There was also the situation of the gas bomb where hundreds had had their doors kicked in, or the early morning knock, to be arrested by the police. You can understand how ecstasy and the rave scene seemed like a safer form of entertainment than football hooliganism. It wasn’t just Celtic that was affected by that, it happened all over. Various clubs’ hooligans got into music and drugs. The whole scene was affected by it.
There’s a funny story about Big Shuggy. He used to go the games with us all the time and was a really game lad. We were in the Clyde Bar on Queen Street station and there’s 10 lads who’d already been sitting in the pub, who we eventually sussed were Hibs casuals. They came over to us and said ‘Look we don’t want any trouble; we’re just in for a drink.’ They were playing Rangers that day. So we ended up sitting with them, having a drink, sharing a joke and a laugh. We were actually there, waiting on the football special because we were heading through to Edinburgh to play Hearts that day. After 90 minutes of drinking, the Hibs lads wished us good luck against Hearts, but just after that one of the baby crew came into the pub and told us there was a 50 strong mob of Hibs outside the pub. It transpired that one of the groups of Hibs we were drinking with had sneaked out to another pub next to the station where this bigger mob of Hibs had been drinking. The two faced liberty takers had pretended to be friendly and drink with us, while they were trying to plan an ambush. We ended up a little mob of us, kicking it off with them in the square. What I noticed with this fight with Hibs, was some of their tactics. They used to have a manoeuvre that the Zulu warriors used years ago. They called it the Bull, I think it’s called. It was the horns of the bull, they used to clasp each other, like in an arm lock, and when you charged into them, they’d try to circle you so that they trapped a few of the opposition mob in the circle and then leather them. So anyway on this day, when we had this encounter. Some of us had said watch what you’re doing, because we were aware that Hibs had some good manoeuvres up their sleeves, Hibs had locked arms and tried the bull on us, to try and trap one or two of us. Then the next thing, this guy just appears – I don’t know if you’ve ever seen the film Quadrophenia with Sting as the bell boy and top mod Ace Face – well, that was my mate Shug.
He was the bell boy in the Copthorne Hotel. He charged out, still wearing his uniform and went straight into Hibs. He fought like f**k on our side that day, and for his troubles, he lost his job but it was total mental, having a hotel bell boy in full uniform fighting on our side.
Celtic were playing Man United, about 30 of us decided to go to Blackpool and commute from there to the game, at that time I was just married and, my now ex-wife decided that she was coming with me to Blackpool. She wanted a romantic weekend in Blackpool, but s**t happens, and she ended up with me, and all the lads. On the Friday we’d had a good night out, so early doors most of the lads decided to head through to Manchester.
Me, my brother James and a big fella called Hutchy from Irvine, in Ayrshire decided to hang back for a while and head for the promenade in Blackpool. We’re walking down the promenade towards the pleasure beach, and there are about 15 likely looking lads, in shell suits and tracksuits, came past us. They gave us the heavy stares as they walked by. I didn’t recognise anybody, didn’t know who they were. My brother turns and says ‘do you know who that was? That’s Motherwell!’ He says ‘I think they’ve clocked us as CSC.’ so we walked on a bit and my brother turned round just to check if they were still watching us, but they’d actually turned back and were now following us. My newly married wife became a bit concerned. To be honest she started to panic a bit. I was reassuring her, ‘don’t worry’, but also saying to my brother and Hutchy, ‘get ready’. I’d hardly finished the sentence, when big Hutchy had been punched by one of the Motherwell lads and went down like a tonne of bricks. Me and my brother we’re going punch by punch with them, while my wife is standing there, screaming. We’ve been backed off down the road a bit, but poor Hutchy is still lying there in a heap on the ground, completely out cold. I saw 5 Celtic scarfers across the road and I shouted to them that we were Celtic, and fair play to them, 2 of them came running across to help us, whilst the other 3 basically turned their back like it was nothing to do with them. It kind of indicates the split in the scarfers when it comes to casuals, half of them have got no problem getting stuck in alongside casuals, while the other half want nothing to do with us. So, we’ve been backed off down the promenade a bit and the police arrive. Hutchy was no longer there on the road, we found out about 30-40 minutes later, that he’s been taken by ambulance to hospital. With everything calmed down we headed for the hospital and were taken to a ward where Cutchy was still lying unconscious. What we didn’t realise was, that it wasn’t a punch that had felled Cutchy, he’d been hit on the side of the face and head, with a hammer and his jaw had been broken. I had been wondering at the time, why such a big lad like him, had gone down so easily after one punch… But clearly, it was the hammer hitting him that had knocked him out cold. That night when the other lads arrived back from the game, we told them what had happened and that Hutchy was in hospital. The lads were cracking up, Motherwell had taken liberties on us and they wanted revenge, but we didn’t know where Motherwell would be. We went to the palace nightclub looking for Motherwell, hoping they would be there, but instead of finding Motherwell, it ended up kicking off with Leeds lads, who we’d stumbled into out of the blue and it just went off. That was a bit of a night. Chairs and everything getting thrown. I remember being thrown down a flight of stairs at a nightclub, by a huge black bouncer. Next morning I’ve gone to a pub round from the hotel on the promenade. The rest of the Celtic lads came in. We’re all sitting there drinking and one of the boys comes into the pub and says, ‘Yes, we’ve found them.’ By that time, we’d been drinking, ‘Found who?’ and he goes ‘Motherwell, we’ve found Motherwell, they’re here.’ Some of them were hanging around their B&B breakfast bar with a Motherwell flag hanging out of the window. We decided, let’s have them. We went round and tried to goad some of them out of their B&B for a fight; then we just got fed up and steamed the B&B and smashed it up. The funniest outcome of that incident was when the next day’s local paper in Blackpool, claimed that it was Chelsea fans that had smashed up a local guesthouse. We surmised that the people in the hotel hadn’t understood our accents, and when we had been shouting ‘ Celtic! Celtic!’ they thought we had been chanting ‘Chelsea! Chelsea!’ So Chelsea got the blame for something that Celtic did. I suppose it makes a change for them, as they are always blamed by the Scottish press for whatever Rangers do. In conclusion though, Motherwell was totally out of order. They’d taken liberties. 3 lads on their own, one of them with his wife and those liberty takers attacked us. Not only that, they’ve put a guy in hospital by attacking him with a hammer. They had the numbers that they could’ve just slapped us and done us, but one of them had to take hammer to us. That’s taking the p*ss. We’ve also had some good rucks with Motherwell, away to them and in our own city when they’ve travelled through.
Carlisle Vs Wrexham:
A group of us decided to down to Carlisle for the Carlisle v Wrexham match. We had a good relationship with the Wrexham casuals. Guys like Neil, Pinch, Pun and a few others. We took 4 car loads down for that match. Shuggy had already gone to Wrexham 3 days before and travelled up with Wrexham for the game. A few more of our lot made their own way down on the train. We got to Carlisle about half 20 in the morning, parked the cars and went into a pub called the Red Lion, near to the train station. We were getting a few funny looks from people who were sitting in the corner of the pub. They didn’t look like anything, just regulars from that bar. I went into the train station to check on train arrivals. Just as I’m doing so, a train pulls in, and there, with his head out of the window, was Shuggy. Wrexham had arrived, or so we thought. Wrexham’s mob weren’t on the train; they’d decided that without the numbers to go on a football special, 40-50 of them only, would travel up by coach for the match. Shuggy had taken the train up by himself, knowing that we’d be at the station to meet him and expecting a mob of Wrexham to pour off the train with him! It was only shortly after Shug arrived at the station that Carlisle appeared, and kicked off with us. As we came out of the station, we’d seen a bus passing by a side street then go out of sight, then pass another side street, with about 100 Carlisle lads chasing after it. Some of the windows had been crashed in, so we thought Wrexham must’ve arrived. We ran up the hill from the station, turned the corner and Carlisle’s casuals are walking back towards us, but obviously baffled as to who we were. So we just steamed into them, our 20 CSC. Even during the fight with them, I can still remember the bewildered looks on their faces. They hadn’t put Wrexham and Celtic together and still couldn’t figure out what the fuck we were doing in Carlisle. Some of the Wrexham lads were jumping out of the smashed back window of the bus heading towards us as well. One of their boys, who knew us, shouted ‘It’s ok, they’re Celtic, and they’re with us!’ In the end we got herded onto their bus by the police, and we got a big cheer as we boarded the bus, from all the Wrexham lads. The police then decided that we were to be taken to the ground for the match, even though there was still 2 hours to kick off. We also found out later, that the Red Lion bar near the station in Carlisle is the English border crew’s main haunt. The police take us up to the ground 2 hours before kick-off, and put us in a terrace which I can only describe as, a cow shed with chicken wire and barbed wire across the front. We were bored in there, until people start arriving at the game. Then more and more of Carlisle’s firm have started coming in and making cut throat gestures at us, and telling us that we’re going to get done after the match. With Wrexham and the rest of the Celtic lads that had arrived in Carlisle, we decided to head into the city centre. It seems also that the lads from Glasgow who’d arrived by train had also immediately kicked off with Carlisle in the station. During that fight, Peter and Shug had been separated and trapped in the train station, when Carlisle turned on them, they ran into a cafe inside the station, grabbed as much as they could to fight with, weapons etc., and Carlisle just steamed in the cafe where people had been having a quiet drink before their trains. We didn’t see those lads that day again, but I think it went alright for them, as they emerged from it, pretty much unscathed. The police eventually caught up with us, we were surrounded and they bought in horses. There was no way they were letting us roam freely in their town centre that night. They put us in vans telling us they were putting us on the first train to Glasgow. Those of us who’d come by car, were taken to our cars and told to get into our cars and head straight home. To be fair to them, the old bill handled the situation pretty well. They were surprisingly well humoured throughout, joking and laughing with us, and asking us what the hell we were doing down there! A few of them were asking us what Celtic Vs Rangers games were like. They were curious more than annoyed with us and basically they just wanted us out of Carlisle and were quite happily to do it amicably, with a laugh and a joke. They told us laughingly, ‘get back across that border, and don’t come back!’
Central Station Glasgow. Celtic are playing away to St Mirren. Me and a pal walk onto the concourse, it’s quite early and us fellow Celtic fans acknowledge each other. There’s a Strawberry blonde lass with a Celtic flat cap and green and white scarf with patch of the pope on it. She’s also wearing jeans and white trainers.
It had become clear that our Kate did not suffer fools gladly. She had a big heart but you don’t disrespect her or cross her. She had these blue eyes (only thing blue about her!) that showed no fear and would back you to the hilt.
She has a young boy with her; we all say hello. “Let’s go to the Chippy Central Station” she pipes up. So we go down. We get our food and go back up the escalator but we notice two lads sitting with tracksuits on and bleached jeans. We know these to be casuals. One shouts up ‘UVF’ giving us a semi stiff arm. Our new pal Katie turns round and gives the m ‘IRA ya poof’ the two casuals do not respond.
I would see her at a few matches after this and she would always acknowledge you. It was over a year later that Celtic had organised themselves into a a crew of casuals. Firstly Roman Catholic Casuals (RCC) onto Celtic Soccer Trendies (CST). It was settled on Celtic Soccer Crew (CSC).
As we were gathering in town one afternoon I recognise a face. She’s wearing a leather patch work top and carrying a black umbrella, it’s Katie. I thought ‘oh no’ but then my thoughts go to how I remember her and why she’s there.
I recently heard someone share at a meeting, “if your in recovery and yer unhappy, yer not doin it right”
It got me thinkin of things I used to seek, chase and covet, all in the pursuit of happiness.
Clothes, status, girls, money, the holidays abroad, designer drugs, big nights out and so on.
Sure, they brought some instant gratification, some temporary feel good factor, but it quickly faded and again I’d be back out chasing.
Constantly chasing happiness but could just never seem to quite keep it in my grasp.
What I know now is I thought external things would give me internal happiness.
I used to look at folk who didn’t wear the clobber, didn’t have that half Q of Diego in the back pocket (or doon the boxers) or be out partying every weekend and think, “straight pegs man. Miserable bastards” I wondered how they could possibly be happy being so mundane.
When I was in my 20s, right through to late 30s I thought life would be one big party, forever. A life of taking recreational drugs, chasing girls, designer clothes and false status.
I knew the party was over just before I hit 40. The drugs stopped doing for me what they had done for many years. I had isolated myself but kept this fantasy life, a film reel playing in my head.
When I finally conceded I was fvcked I thought it would be a life of misery. A life of that straight peg mundane, nothing to look forward to that I’d so often scoffed at.
I had this idea that my life would be going to recovery meetings with all these miserable, unhappy bastards.
“I’m David, I’m an addict” in my most miserable voice was all I could hear. Grey skies, smelly rooms for meetings, sad faces was all I could envisage.
That there was self pity.
I started to lift my head at meetings. People smiled, laughed, looked fresh.
Nowadays they mundane things like walking your dog, ironing, cuddling up on the couch watchin telly, doing the dishes.
Thats the stuff that makes me happy. That’s what keeps me humble and grateful.
Of course, life isn’t all strawberries and orgasms, it’s not a Disney film but I’ve got awareness that when life turns up, I can deal with it and in turn, that brings happiness, peace and gratitude.
Recovery is growing up. Its being present, its dealing with life on life’s terms. It’s about getting out the fvckin way and realising you’re not the centre of the universe.
I watched the UFC fight on Saturday night and whilst Paddy “The Baddy” Pimblett may divide opinion with his showboat and cocksureness, his speech at the end of the fight was raw, emotional and very, very important. He told us how a friend of his had taken his own life a few days prior and how we need to ditch the stigma around mental health and suicidal thoughts, especially amongst men.
And he’s right. It is getting better but like a lot of things like this, they become all to easy to say with little substance. We need to continue to get the message out.
3 years ago around this time, (I don’t recall the exact date, but it was mid July), I had my last, and hopefully final encounter with suicide. In the early hours of the morning I walked out the house I was staying in at the time and hooked my hood onto the garage door and kicked my legs out.
Truth is, I shat it when I felt it tighten round my neck and I was able to get my feet back under me.
I didnt talk to anyone prior to this. My mental health got worse. Suicidal ideation was constantly on my mind. In the months that followed I’d visit my GP numerous times. I’d be given different tablets and have input from psychology.
I felt alone. Felt no one would really understand. I wont go into great detail but there were other factors in makin me feel alone and isolated.
I felt when I did open up no one listened. I knew they heard but they didn’t listen cos all they wanted to do was give me advice, pay lip service or fix me.
Its not what I wanted. Or needed.
See, here’s the thing, it’s our human instinct to want to help people, but sometimes, the best help is trying not to help, trying not to play the fixer, the sorter. The best help we can be is just to listen, to be there.
I’m not a doctor, a counsellor or any sort of professional in mental health. This is just personal experience.
See when someone tells you they’re feeling suicidal, or they’re feelin low, here’s a few do’s and don’ts;
Don’t tell them to man up Don’t tell them other folk are worse off Don’t tell them it’s a drink or a good night out they need Don’t tell them you know just the thing to make them feel better Don’t joke that it’s their “time of the month” Don’t tell them it’ll all be better when they get a job, girlfriend, boyfriend, car, lottery win etc
Do tell them yer there for them Do tell them you’ll just listen whilst they talk. Do offer to go to the GP with them Do tell them you might not understand or identify what they’re goin through or feeling but you’ll listen. Do validate their feelings.
We also need to keep looking out for each other. We need to get comfortable about broaching difficult subjects.
“Are you thinking of killing yourself?” Say that out loud.
Its uncomfortable isn’t it. It gives you a wee knot in your stomach and you’re probably thinking, “fvck that, im not asking anyone that. It sounds cheeky, too forward”
Guess what, tough, cos see that question, that could save a life.
So, get comfortable with the uncomfortable. When you ask that question the worst thing that’d going to happen is the person looking at you and telling you “NO”.
I’d rather have that look from a pal that thinks I’m daft than sit and wonder if the question could’ve saved them when I’m mourning them.
Get talking. Talk to your partners, your kids, your pals, even sometimes that stranger thats sitting looking like the weight of the world is on their back.
A kind word can save a life.
We have some great organisations out there, large and small and we have some wonderful people doing there bit.
Folk like Paul at Max Kolbe, the walk n talk group run by Andy Pingu, Dave with Kickin On are just a few.
I had always heard of Chico. Had always heard good things about Chico. Always the focus on nights out. Everyone’s pal, always made the day or night out better.
Who wouldn’t want introduced to Chico?
Just over 20 years ago I got properly introduced. Right away I knew I liked Chico and sensed we’d be good pals.
Don’t get me wrong, I wasn’t with Chico all the time. Started off now and then but everytime I was with Chico, it was great. Really f*ckin good to be honest.
Before I knew it, me and Chico spent Friday and Saturday nights together. Man, sometimes Chico would join me on a Friday and that would be us til Sunday.
Things were goin that well that everytime I went to do something fun, Chico would always be there. I invited him to everythin. Days oot at the fitba, nights oot wi pals, family parties, pals parties.
I’d always start on a Monday or Tuesday makin sure Chico would be about at the weekend. It got to the point I felt I couldn’t enjoy myself if I thought Chico wouldn’t be there.
Everyone seemed to love Chico. Folk would always ask if Chico was there. Everytime I went into a toilet in the boozer folk would ask if Chico was there. I’d love that. Lap it up that people asked me about Chico.
Then I started to resent it. Fuckin find yer own Chico, I started to think.
Shortly I’d start having nights wi Chico myself. Maybe a wee Monday night, or a Thursday. Just me and Chico.
Then the relationship wi me and Chico started to get a bit toxic. The nights spent wi just the two of us became more. Chico would convince me I was better off just the two of us. They nights became more frequent.
Chico then started takin all my money. I spent it all on Chico. I’d get into debt for Chico.
I tried loads of things to distance myself from Chico. Tried to cut down the amount of times I spent with Chico each week. Nae good. See, Chici is cunnin and baffling. No matter what I tried, Chico was with me every night. Every f*cking night.
In the end, I hated Chico but just couldn’t get away. I’d cry when I was with Chico.
Eventually I managed to end things wi Chico.
Don’t get me wrong, Chico still tries, every day, to get my attention. As I said, Chico is cunning and baffling. Chico tries to trick me into thinking things will be like they were in the beginning. Chico tries to get me to forget how things ended with us. And if I let his cunning and baffling approach sit too long in my head I am in real danger of believing that lie.
I cant afford that so whilst I acknowledge the good times Chico. I can’t forget that bad times. The dark times, the hopelessness of my life when you’re involved.
I left Helsby Grammar School in Cheshire for the final time 40 years ago never to return. I never wanted to go there in the first place as all my junior school mates were off to the local comp just down the road. Parental pressure was applied however and so I ended up either a ‘grammar snob’ or a ‘grammar puff’ for the next five, long years.
Like most grammar schools, there was a pecking order both within the teaching staff and the pupils. The ‘rough’ kids with Runcorn accents were often ridiculed by teachers whereas the posh kids from Frodsham, Helcy, Kingsley, Manley, Tarvin and other strange villages in the sticks were indulged.
The grammar was a laughable institution with an inflated sense of its own importance. The head teacher wore a gown and a mortar board when she went for assembly. There was still a separate boys and girls class system but only one head. The girls played hockey, the boys rugby (Union!) and believe it or not we still did Latin for a year although all I can remember of it is ‘Marcus pulsat Septimus’
Nothing had prepared me for the culture shock of the grammar school and I tolerated until 1982 then left at the first opportunity after achieving four GCSEs.
The day I went to pick up my results was the same day we left for a family holiday in Paignton of all places. We never usually got further than Rhyl so heading down to Devon with me mum, dad, me, our Claire, our Gaz and our Ste all in the back of some arl banger was a bit of an odyssey for us.
Summer 82 – it was fucking hot! The ‘82 World Cup had started and our hotel (not just a B&B!) had a lounge where we watched tge match and me dad allowed me a few pints of Tartan bitter.
It was England’s first finals for 12 years and the Bulldog Bobby Brigade were there in Bilbao and then Madrid where they got wellied by the Guardia Civil.
A few random memories of that holiday.
The Basil Fawlty owner passing us the cheeseboard on our first night and us demolishing it. He came up to me mum and whispered loudly ‘do you mind if tomorrow you could leave some cheese for the other guests?’
Me having too much Tartan and pissing the bed that I was sharing with our Gaz (he was aged around 10 so I swapped places and blamed it on him and he got took the rap.
Buying the 12 “ version of Me No Pop I on Ze at a record fair. Still got it now. Still love it to this day.
Noticing local lads were wearing similar clothes to the scals back home. Blacmange Swedes ( curly perm on top, shaved at the sides, kickers and Hunter leathers)
Going to watch Airplane at Torquay cinema. Funniest film I’d ever seen.
Getting mad Sun burn on the last full day before we went home.
In the footy, By the time we were leaving, the Italians and Germans had reached the final.
My older cousin and her husband lived on the outskirts of Bristol and we went into the city centre on tge Saturday afternoon for a mooch. I saw my first body poppers in the UK there – it could well have been the Wild Bunch.
Back at our Lorraine’s I slapped camomile lotion all over my bright red scar tissue and settled down for the final. To be honest, I don’t remember much about it although what I DO remember was Alien being on after.
Aah Alien ! Maybe with The Thing the best sci-fi movie of the 80s. The gore is justified, the production values are amazing.
When I got home, our youthy had got an Alien style pin ball machine and Bulldog Bobby was another false dawn for the inept English national squad.
82 was a momentous year for me. I finally left school and went to the local college to do an Art A level but jibbed it after year 1 (ok I was booted out) and ended up on a YTS scheme.
I’m sure me mam and dad were devvo’d that their first born with Great Expectations of university and success ended up in a council warehouse grafting VHS tapes.
Boris Johnson was always a creation, a kind of anti-politician cartoon character that appealed to the type of people who complain that ‘all politicians are the same.’ These ‘new populists’ – the Johnsons, Trumps, Macrons, Bolsonaros, Orbans – are always rich and right wing opportunists using the familiar tricks of the demagogue to whip up hatred against others in order to divert attention away from their own criminality. Migrants, gay people, indigenous people, women, strikers, single mums, benefit claimants, poor people, ill people, football fans. They don’t care who they target as long as their pet mass media propagandise on their behalf.
Suddenly all these defenders of Johnson have discovered he’s a lying, manipulative narcissist willing to throw anyone under the bus to save himself. Yet, even as panic grips Downing Street, the loyal, embedded mass media will do its utmost to protect their paymasters. Public Service Broadcasting is a myth, what it amounts to is state funded propaganda and both the BBC and Channel 4/ITN are as embedded as Sky or any number of US channels that never deviate from the accepted state narrative. The middle ground play offs between all three main parties will yet again result in consensus stasis after the next election. Red Mist is one place we hope to break this stranglehold upon public opinion, what those self-elected arbiters of social discourse decide what is within their imposed boundaries of acceptability. Don’t expect the Guardian or the Mirror or any of the middle-class liberal rags and broadcasters to reflect ‘our’ culture and our outrage.
LIARS A-E “The Conservative Party is an organised hypocrisy” so said Benjamin Disraeli. Boris Johnson is merely the latest and arguably the most blatant Tory Prime Minister to use his position as a way to further enrich himself, reward his chums, bask in the glow of senior office and lie and cheat his way through office regardless of how many other people his actions destroy. He and Cameron were the conjoined twins of Neo-Etonian privilege, the Tweedle Dumb and Tweedle Dumber of Tory rule since 2010. Cameron was merely a bag man for his own family interests and those of his fellow off-shore tax avoiding pals. Johnson is by comparison, a pickpocket of the public purse, brazenly lining his own pockets as he bounced from one scandal to another, all the while no doubt still convinced of his own unique abilities and talents. Neither Cameron or Johnson have ever had to hold down a real job. They’ve moved from one shoe in position to another aided by their old school ties and political connections. They exist in an upper-class cocoon that has protected these dim witted, mediocre men and women for centuries. Johnson’s reputation as a so-called ‘vote winner’ was based upon his displacing of Ken Livingstone as London mayor in 2008 and then by usurping the Tory leadership by any means necessary and fighting the 2019 general election on one issue; Brexit. That he was in favour of EU membership before the election was by the by, this, he knew would resonate with voters across the political spectrum, not only those ever reliable xenophobes and racists in his own party but those xenophobes and racists in the Labour ‘heartlands’ who had backed Brexit in massive numbers. Johnson’s tenure as PM will end very soon but will also allow the Tories to re-group and re-brand themselves in time for the next general election. Once the middle class begin to feel the pain of ‘the cost of living crisis’ (never austerity for these people), then any support for sneering toffs soon evaporates. The likes of Rees-Mogg and Johnson symbolize a rotten, decadent culture that truly wants to return to the class deference and ‘values’ of the Victorian/Edwardian era. In many ways, I don’t blame them because if the British public are too stupid or timid to accept these maggots as their political leaders, then why should anyone expect decency and honour and discipline and truth and responsibility and wisdom and energy and morality and competence?