The Battle of Edgware Road

Stephen Vincent 13/10/2020 39comments  |  Jump to last

12 October 2020 was the 35th anniversary of one of the more frightening and bizarre incidents that have happened to me during 60 years of following Everton. I wondered if any readers were there or remembered the events of 12 October 1985.

The cast assembled, as they usually did for London games, at the Bonnington Hotel on Southampton Row, just after 11 am on 12 October 1985. The guys were in good spirits, optimistic about our prospects for the afternoon game with Chelsea at The Bridge; after all, we were the Champions. We came from all over the UK, bound together by our love for Everton. We had met over a number of years going back to the early '70s, seeing each other at the match; our hostelry of choice for home games was the Royal Oak.

We set off in good time and made it trouble-free to the ground. In those days, Stamford Bridge was not the bastion of the prawn sandwich that it is today, the away terracing was uncovered and there was some distance between it and the pitch. The infamous ‘Shed’ was at 11 o’clock as you looked down the ground. As we took up our positions, it started to rain.

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The football fare on offer was not brilliant. Chelsea went two up and missed a penalty before Sheedy pulled one back just before the break. The second half was a battle. Sharp missed a penalty for us and Big Nev got sent off for two bookings in the space of 5 minutes as we hung on for a 2-1 defeat. As we trooped sullenly towards the exits, little did we know that the main action of the day was still to come.

We were held back by unusually aggressive police with dogs for what seemed like an age. One of the guys noticed two very well dressed and well-groomed gentlemen waiting to get out with us. He commented on their expensive overcoats, white shirts and dark ties. It turned out that they were Soviet diplomats who, on hearing that the English Champions were playing at the ground nearest their embassy, had decided to come and watch. On reaching the ground they had seen a sign that said ‘visiting supporters’ and found themselves with about 3,000 scallies!!! They looked at the barking dogs and commented that they ‘thought they were supposed to live in the police state’.

Eventually, the police let us go. As we left the ground, we went to turn left to return to the Bonny as some of the lads were staying there and a few of us lived in London. We were told in no uncertain terms by the police that they were making sure that all of us ‘Scouse bastards’ were going to be returned home. We tried to explain that we didn’t live in Liverpool and needed to go in the opposite direction, to no avail. The dog handlers lengthening the leads persuaded us to cooperate, after all once on the tube, we could go anywhere. Our Russian friends flashed diplomatic credentials and wished us goodbye.

We were escorted to Fulham Broadway tube station. Amazingly all the gates were open and we were herded on to waiting trains, as one was filled and left, another arrived. We arranged to get off at the first station we stopped at. Unfortunately, we didn’t stop, at least not until we arrived at Edgware Road.

As the train we were on pulled into Edgware Road tube station, it was attacked by literally hundreds of Chelsea fans who proceeded to attack the train with baseball bats, bricks, metal bars and their Dr Martens. The next few minutes were mad; having attacked the train unhindered for some time, the Chelsea fans were ‘dispersed’ by more police than I have ever seen in one place at the same time. Standing in our impregnable steel tube, this was all very amusing. Once the platform was clear, we expected that we would head on our way.

However, the doors opened and the police set about us, getting us off the train on to the platform, they gave everyone who came within arm’s length a good whack. I escaped and turned to see a young lad being battered over the head, by a guy in civvies, with a set of handcuffs. All over the platform, there were fights going on. Everton fans were definitely not coming out on top.

Twenty minutes later, after the mayhem had subsided, myself and a friend found the young lad (he was 14) sitting on the exit steps with blood pouring down his face from a number of head wounds. Living in London, we knew that St Mary’s hospital was opposite the station exit. We explained and asked if we could take him to A&E and were told in no uncertain terms by the police blocking the stairs that ‘nobody is leaving the station’. At that point, the lad’s father found us. He was an off duty Merseyside police officer, he showed his warrant card and still they would not allow the lad treatment.

Our group had been separated and I looked round for friends, but spotted a senior looking police officer standing in the drivers cab (he had a cap on with scrambled egg on) and we went to talk to him. His shoulder insignia were taped over and he just ignored our questions. My friend pointed out that it was illegal for him to obscure his insignia and asked for his name, rank and number and was told ‘PC Plod 123’.

We were herded back onto the train, looking around there were several injuries and that was just in one carriage. Our group had been split up and, in the days before mobile phones, that meant that we couldn’t find out if everyone else was safe.

The train stopped at Euston Road and we were escorted out on to the road and along to Euston Station to be put on a train back to Liverpool, even though we lived in London. We caught up with a few friends and one noticed the guy who had been hitting the young lad over the head. He was laughing and joking with a red-haired bloke. We went over and my friend asked what all that was about? We were astonished to be told that they were plain-clothes British Transport police officers. I will always remember the reply of the red-haired guy: “Look, if you’d wanted a go, you’d have got a go. You didn’t want a go, so what are you complaining about?”

We were deposited on a platform at Euston and got together as many of our group as we could find, waited for the train to depart, and left Euston by the side entrance. Most of the lads decided to go back to the Bonny as some had rooms booked there. I was in shock and went home.

I toyed with the issues raised by the day’s events all over the weekend. I spoke with many of the guys at the Bonny and the London lads at home. On Monday, six of us went to police stations across the country and made complaints against a total of six officers who had been seen involved in violence after the game on Saturday. I was working as an accountant near the Ritz and went to Saville Row station. Complaints were also made in Liverpool, Scotland, Wakefield, East London and Castleford.

To be fair, the sergeant who dealt with me took matters very seriously, said he would make enquiries, and asked me to return the following day. I did and a formal complaint was logged.

The following Saturday, we were at home to Watford. The Oak was packed and discussion about the previous week’s events was postponed until after the game. A comfortable win put us in good spirits as we assembled in the Crown near Lime Street and it was decided that we needed to round up more witnesses. One of the group had spoken with the young lad’s father in the week and had been told that he had had 14 stitches in three wounds, which had not been treated until they had returned to Liverpool. He was reluctant to make a formal complaint, preferring to use internal channels.

The following Monday, I spoke with Radio Merseyside and was interviewed for their hourly news and sports bulletins. As a result of that interview, a further eight people came forward and made complaints.

Within the month, the Police Complaints Authority had appointed an inspector from the Glamorgan Constabulary to oversee the investigation. We spent a huge amount of time giving statements, attending ID parades, and being interviewed by various lawyers.

Eventually, 10 months later, the trial started at Knightsbridge Crown Court. It lasted five days. When I was called to give evidence, the first thing that the defence barrister said to me was “You are a member of an itinerant band of football hooligans known as the Evertonians” – the last word stretched out to make it sound like an insult.

We all agreed that it was a horrendous experience. In the 11 months between the original complaint and the trial, I was stopped eight times by police whilst driving. The phone at home would ring in the middle of the night and no-one was on the other end, time after time. “Just coincidence” we were told. The biggest coincidence was that it stopped as soon as the case was over.

On the Friday, the jury came back with guilty verdicts for all four officers on trial. The judge handed out suspended sentences. We were infuriated, I mean absolutely livid. The prosecuting barrister pointed out to us that this was a victory. We were football fans from Liverpool, it was less than six months after Heysel, when the original incident had occurred and yet the jury had all believed us rather than an inspector, a sergeant, and two constables in the British Transport Police. He said we should be very proud. I have to say that we didn’t feel it.

Little did we know that having a conviction for causing an affray, does not constitute grounds for dismissal from the British Transport Police. There were then disciplinary hearings to go through and we no longer enjoyed the protection of an independent force. The atmosphere was poisonous. I went on a family holiday during the lead up to the hearings. While I was away, ID parades were carried out. When I gave evidence at the hearing, I was asked how I was able to identify the officer who had said “Look if you’d wanted a go, you’d have got a go. You didn’t want a go, so what are you complaining about” I pointed out that I hadn’t as I had been away on holiday. The whole thing was a farce.

We didn’t even bother to attend for the verdicts assuming that we would be dismissed. We weren’t and only found out the outcome when one of the lads phoned the inspector in South Wales. The constables and the sergeant were dismissed from the BTP – the inspector however was cautioned as to his future conduct and demoted to sergeant.

All this happened against the backdrop of Margaret Thatcher’s government. Football hooliganism had been in the headlines for months. The infamous Luton Millwall FA Cup tie happened just 10 weeks before Heysel and has been described as ‘The day football died’.

At a time when the UK was politically, economically and socially under pressure, the thing we had as flag-bearers were the football teams, who were the best in Europe.

Tony Evans in his book ‘Two Tribes’ says that ‘the Heysel ban wasn’t really about football, it was an attack on working-class culture’. Football was the greatest expression of working-class culture in Britain at the time. Thatcherism was conducting an all-round assault on it — the miners, Liverpool in particular was the thorniest problem for Thatcher. It was the only city that refused to back down and continued to fight.

In London, Ken Livingstone backed away from the fight. David Blunkett in Sheffield backed away. Liverpool City Council stood firm and fought them. They had to change the rules and change the laws to get rid of a democratically elected council that pushed through all the initiatives and actually followed through the manifesto. It was an absolute scandal. Liverpool has resisted, being a thorn in Conservatism’s side for a long while. The strikes of the ’70s, they really loathed the city for that.

It’s unimaginable to think, but they actively discussed and managed the decline of the city in Cabinet. They actually were withdrawing resources from the city, forcing people to move away. It’s mind-boggling to think of it, that they treat a whole section of society that way, and demonise and criminalise them while this was going on.

The accent was criminalised. You should have tried to spend a £20 note in London in the mid-80s with a Scouse accent. They examine it, hold it up to the light, show it to their mates and then they wouldn’t want to take it. They assumed you were a criminal. Basically, they de-humanised us. We were untrustworthy, we were dangerous, it was bizarre but it was the way the government of the time wanted it.

A Sunday Times editorial from 1985 sums up the government’s attitude towards football: “A slum sport, watched by slum people, in slum stadiums.” There’s this dismissal and deriding of working-class culture, which was one of the key threads of Thatcherism — to destroy working-class culture, to destroy working-class unity, to destroy the unions, to destroy the mass participation sports that people went to, the sense of community and the sense of togetherness that this engendered. One of the keys to the whole Thatcherite philosophy was to destroy that.

In another way, that’s where the first steps began towards the Premier League. Whether you think the Premier League is a good thing or a bad thing is a different question, but it’s where the first steps of the Premier League started.

Everyone talks about Hillsborough being the big catalyst for the Premier League — it wasn’t. Heysel was the disaster that was the catalyst for the Premier League. Heysel was when football began slowly to get its house in order, to make the grounds a little bit safer, in part as well as the Bradford fire. I’m sure if Bradford had happened in isolation without Heysel, we wouldn’t see so many changes. And obviously, we wouldn’t have had the ban and the impact.

At that point, football started rebuilding. So I think Heysel was the catalyst for the Premier League, but it also really set English football back, but that was the least of the problems — 39 people died, and people shouldn’t die or indeed be assaulted by police, going to football matches, football’s supposed to be fun.

I wrote to Thatcher following the conclusion of the disciplinary hearings. I received a post card thanking me for my communication. Liverpool MPs fared no better, during June, July and August of 1985, Hansard relates attempts by Eric Heffer, Eddie Loyden and even David Alton, to soften the blow, pointing out that some 25,000 Everton fans had been in Rotterdam, for the Cup Winners Cup final, the week before Heysel and had been praised by Dutch police, but nothing could deflect Thatcher from her purpose.

So who won the battle of Edgware Road? This was no minor skirmish and, in light of the prevailing opinion at the time and in spite of the leniency of the courts and the almost insurmountable odds, you can only conclude that football fans did!

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Larry O'Hara
1 Posted 14/10/2020 at 01:02:10
Interesting what you say about the aftermath of this game: when living in London, I had a vaguely similar experience after a Stamford Bridge game. We too were all shepherded into an empty tube train whether we wanted it or not. It went about one or two stops at most then stopped at an empty station, the doors opened and a crew of Chelsea Headhunters, clearly forewarned of our arrival, attacked. They were beaten off and then left. 5 minutes later the train continued its journey, no police in sight during any of this!

The superficial reading might conclude these episodes show the police and Headhunters were totally supportive of each other. Yet the various criminal trials involving them failed, in particular because some of the police (admittedly from the Football Intelligence Unit rather than Transport Police) were proven to be agents provocateurs.

It was the police desire for revenge that led to the ludicrous Donal ‘Macintyre Undercover' infiltration of the Headhunters that I and colleagues have analysed elsewhere.

Nonetheless, my experience was a faint echo of yours: can't remember the exact date but I think we won and Alan Harper scored an amazing solo goal!

Derek Thomas
2 Posted 14/10/2020 at 01:13:32
Stephen, an epic tale that details the way the powers that be thought and still think we should be treated.

Even now, we have the "them and us" attitude. You can go inside to listen to Wenger speak, but not sit outside to watch his ex-team play.

Stick, shitty end first, football fans for the use of.

Nothing changes, eh, Rick Parry?

Andrew Keatley
3 Posted 14/10/2020 at 01:31:38
Thank you for this Stephen, it’s a really excellent read.
Karl Masters
4 Posted 14/10/2020 at 02:29:34
This takes me back.

There were some really nasty skirmishes against Chelsea going back into the 1970s, the August 1978 battle at Kensington High Street when Everton fans including kids were battered with fire extinguishers being a catalyst for many revenge attacks on Chelsea at Goodison and in London.

Chelsea were relegated in 1979 and for 5 years clubs in Division 2 had to put up with their away fans with notable riots at Derby, Shrewsbury, Wolves and Grimsby of all places in that time.

Their first home game back after promotion in 1984 was against us. It was live on TV on a Friday night, very unusual in those days, and only 17,700 attended. The atmosphere was vile though and at half-time a flare was launched from the Everton fans that landed almost on top of the dugouts by the players' tunnel! There were street battles after involving small groups with knives and all sorts.

I didn't attend the game you write about the next season, but I went to the Goodison game we lost 4-3 in between where Chelsea fans were all taken off the trains at Edge Hill and bussed to Goodison, where they were attacked, and to a League Cup game at Stamford Bridge (another 2-1 loss) about a month after your bad experience. In both cases the atmosphere was highly toxic.

My experiences back then are one of the reasons I loathe Chelsea to this day. I know a lot of decent Chelsea fans, but they had some real scum, racist, evil fans back then.

Your article throws up a lot of interesting sidelines, not least Thatcher and her loathing of Merseyside, Geoffrey Howe's proposal to put Merseyside into ‘managed decline' plus the despicable behaviour prevalent in the Met Police back then.

I don't believe that any of that has really gone away totally since. Indeed, the Covid-19 Lockdown special measures seem to be being forced on to Merseyside more than anywhere else just now. The Tories don't give a toss about jobs and the Liverpool economy, always remember that.

Great article by the way and well done for following through with the complaint. Some sort of justice in the end.

Darren Hind
5 Posted 14/10/2020 at 05:38:55
Stephen.

You went all over the place with this piece, but I couldn't resist following. Powerful stuff. Thank you. A whole range of dormant emotions resurfaced as I read this piece.

The season after the game you are talking about (the one when Alan Harper won with a screamer), I saw very similar scenes right outside the ground.

For years, we drank in the Fulham working man's club before our games at Chelsea. On this day, a couple of coppers warned the Chelsea fans we were drinking with, to stay inside for 15 minutes as the Scousers had arrived and were being marched from the tube station: "A warm welcome was waiting for them".

We left about half-an-hour, later thinking we had missed the trouble, but we walked right into it. From the side street, we could see police in huge numbers showing how hard they were, by hammering dozens of scouse kids in their mid-teens with their sticks. Shithouses.

London clubs were no different than the rest of the clubs around the country. They had their share of thugs, but the overwhelming majority of them were top-notch fans who loved a bevy and a bit of banter. It wasn't the fans you had to keep a wary eye out for when you went to London. It was the fucking Bizzies.

Karl Masters
6 Posted 14/10/2020 at 07:07:57
Always had a lot of bother at Tottenham and Chelsea, less at West Ham, but the situation always felt volatile.

Arsenal were less of a problem, whilst visiting Palace, Charlton, QPR and Wimbledon was always quite relaxed. So London was not all bad.

Millwall was a different proposition of course, but I always think that is a club whose reputation goes before them. Every hooligan from any club wanted to go there and they still to this day have a sizeable problem with local ‘rent-a-mob', who turn up for the big games for the trouble not the football.

As we know from our visit there last year, those South Londoners don't appreciate people turning up in their manor looking for trouble. Very similar to Scousers in that respect.

David Ellis
7 Posted 14/10/2020 at 08:24:25
I lived in London from 1982 to 1990 so went to a number of Everton games in the capital. I lived in Upton Park for 4 years so went to quite a few random Hammers games as well. Ignorant racists supporters, I thought at the time. Didn't know good football because they rarely got to see it.

I didn't have too much trouble – I'm a woolly back but with a BBC accent. I once had trouble getting into the away end at Highbury because I didn't sound "Evertonish". I told the officer to define "Evertonish" and that, in any event, I wasn't aware that that was a requirement to be permitted entry. Of course, he let me in. White male middle-class privilege.

My worst experience was at Highbury at the FA Cup Semi-Final in 1984 where we beat Southampton. There was a bloody pitch invasion but the worst aspect was that there was no separation between us and Southampton fans in the tube station. All very tense.

Finally whilst living in Upton Park, the away fans were being led to the tube station within a police cordon, I actually cut through a gap in the police lines to go down a back alley to get home (November 1984 - 1-0 win). Probably not very smart as the Hammers fans were trying to get at us.

I wore an Everton scarf to a Liverpool v Bayern Munich game around that time. Got a bit of stick for that. Not quite sure what I was thinking.

Dave Williams
8 Posted 14/10/2020 at 10:49:58
This is a really good read and shows how much things have improved since those days albeit there are still problems at some grounds.
Back in the seventies it was quite a risk going to a game, especially having to queue up outside the ground for a bus back into town. I was in my early teens travelling then from Bromborough and I wouldn’t wear a scarf for fear of what might happen as there were only two or three of us so an easy target.
Stephen- you didn’t move down to Torquay did you?
Tony Abrahams
9 Posted 14/10/2020 at 11:39:35
I think that night went down in fame for football hooliganism Larry/Darren, because I’m sure one National newspaper were talking about printing an hooligan league, and quite a few Chelsea fans, commented that Everton had already won it, and it’s probably why they were waiting mob handed to pick off anyone the following year Stephen.

Football was a very dangerous place in those days, and then they invented excstacy tablets!

Mike Kehoe
10 Posted 14/10/2020 at 12:10:10
The eighties were a horrible time to be a teenager and pretty horrible generally. I have worked in various parts of the country and the lazy stereotypical image of anyone from from Liverpool being a stupid feckless violent thief was often impossible to get past; I have no doubt this persists today and I often shudder when I see those lovable scousers on the news up to their comedic capers gathering on mass during a global pandemic or their heroic ambassadors spitting at school children from their fast moving cars and then spouting bile on TV.

Funny thing is though, I reckon if you grew up in somewhere like rural Norfolk or Devon, you wouldn’t care at all about the managed decline of Liverpool and it would be very easy to look on aghast at the freak show it is represented as in the right wing media. If you grew up in Somerset or Kent with parents that read the Mail you would not give a fuck about socialism and would only value things like the NHS when you were older or ill. For many years I have felt like a stranger in a very strange land when I consider how so many seemingly ordinary sane working class people vote Tory. I got my education in spite of the Thatcher reforms of 1983 and have read deeply into moral philosophy, psychology and sociology to help me understand. There is a lot of really interesting evidence that moral decisions are based upon similar principles to taste buds: that morality is based very much upon involuntary instinctive with the logical mind then finding a theory to align with the initial instinctive response; that people who are left leaning socialists have moral taste buds that are heavily influenced by a sense of fairness and social justice; while right wing thinking also includes these but is more complex as more inclined towards principles which prioritise tradition family values, religion [although it could be suggested the tories only accepted Thatcherism as a religion when every trace of traditional religious values was kicked out of it] and cultural matters, like patriotism.

Essentially, there are a lot of absolute c**ts in our society, with the more intelligent and wealthy c**ts gravitating towards politics or other forms of power like the police where they can achieve c**tyness to their heart’s content.

Just for clarity, I think Jamie Carragher is a c**t who should have been fired a long time ago.

Larry O'Hara
11 Posted 14/10/2020 at 12:10:19
Tony point taken: I wasn’t at the match Darren describes but clearly the subsequent year. The point interesting me was the police not only disappearing but doing so at a station we didn’t need to stop at.

Returning to the football though, Harper’s goal was fantastic. If I remember right Chelsea had just equalised and he took the ball near the centre circle, dribbled through 4 Chelsea players and let rip a screamer into the roof of the net!

The only goal I have seen that comes close was Clyde Best in the early 70s for West Ham at Goodison doing the same thing. Speaking to West Ham fans a feat he had never achieved before or subsequently. I think the crowd just spontaneously applauded him

Jerome Shields
12 Posted 14/10/2020 at 12:18:18
I agree regarding Chelsea, they have some thugish supporters. Seen them in action myself. A element did attend away ends at other London venue, particularly after a early kick off at Stamford Bridge.

As for Heysel, a friend was there during a Arsenal Cup Winners Cup fixture. He decided before to game started to go to the loo. Ended up outside the ground, and went back in again unhindered.

He told me that he was surprised at how dilapidated the ground was and was even more surprised when he heard the, now infamous , European Cup Final. was the next game there that season.

Eddie Dunn
13 Posted 14/10/2020 at 12:53:28
Great bit of writing transporting us back to the dark ages where (as a young male) you had to have eyes in the back of your head, especially in London. Went to all the London grounds in the ten years I lived there bu797t Chelsea was always chaotic, with that shit walk back to Fulham Broadway. West Ham was also dodgy at times but I managed to avoid any aggro blending in with a tube pass etc.
I think Chelsea were the worst police for keeping you back on that open terrace. It just gave those tossers plenty of time to set-up ambushes.
Saw a huge fight on Scottie road as pockets of Everton jumped the marching Chelsea mob on the way back to the station...must have been '78 or 79. They got a good tuning and a mounted policeman who was wacking our fans with his big stick got thrown from his horse and got a good kicking for his actions.
Rob Halligan
14 Posted 14/10/2020 at 12:54:41
The game that Karl # 4 refers to was the first game of the season at Chelsea in 1978 / 79. I went down on the special train with me dad and younger brother. Andy King scored an absolute screamer as we went on to win 1-0. For some reason we had tickets for the main stand, so me dad decided to leave a few minutes before the end to miss any trouble. We jumped a taxi back to Euston, so obviously were unaware of the trouble that took place at Kensington High street. The train back was due to leave about 6pm or 6.30pm, but didn't leave until about 8.30pm. Lads were coming back into Euston in dribs and drabs, covered in blood. I remember me dad saying that's it for me, I was not going to anymore away games. No chance of that happening!!

When we played Chelsea at home in the November, there was absolute carnage after the game. Revenge was on the cards for Everton fans, and boy did Chelsea get it. They were attacked from everywhere on the route back to Lime street, particularly between Goodison and Everton valley. If I remember rightly, their main man was called "Bunny" and I'm sure he went down with his head caved in by bricks. Not nice to see, and even police horses came under attack from the bricks and bottles launched at Chelsea fans. It can't have been nice being a Chelsea fan on that walk back to Lime street.

Revenge, however, was not far away for Chelsea. The following week we played Arsenal away, and again I went on the special, but this time with mates. If I remember rightly, there was only about two hundred on the special. There was trouble during the game as Arsenal fans mixed in with us in the away end. For anyone who went to Highbury, the nearest tube station was Highbury, which when you came out the away end, you would turn right and walk about 200 yards of so. For some reason though, the police escort decided to walk us right round the stadium, so we were in effect sitting targets for the Arsenal fans. We got on the tube and headed back to Euston with no further trouble. Things were different at Euston though. As we came up the final escalator to the main concourse, about a thousand years appeared over the wall. They were all there, Arsenal, Chelsea, millwall, West ham and Spurs. The police had fucked off leaving us to defend for ourselves. Scuffles broke out but we all managed to get to the platform for the train back. The only thing was, it was the wrong platform, so we had to walk back up and get to the right one. There were about a dozen or so police by this time, who seemed more hell bent on having a go at us rather than the Cockneys.

The metropolitan police really did have a lot to answer for!!

Dave Abrahams
15 Posted 14/10/2020 at 13:19:03
Great post Stephen (o/p) and well done with your perseverance in trying to get justice,which you did in the end,and getting three bizzies deservedly sacked was a good result in my eyes, although I understand, in your eyes, the sentences should have been more substantial.

Travelling with the Blues over the years being a Scouser was always a trial, but the outcome was usually okay, when you ignored the obvious looks you received, from shopkeepers, barmen etc when they heard your Scouse accent, and carried on being the person you were, happy and sociable. Bizzies were the hardest to convince,especially the ones in Liverpool!!

Kieran Kinsella
16 Posted 14/10/2020 at 14:09:24
The irony with Thatcher's war on the working class is that Chelsea fed into it with their hooliganism but in truth their fans weren't even really "working class." I knew a lot of kind of yuppie, nouveau riche businessmen in London who wore suits and drove Range Rovers but then rioted at football matches. The media always acted as if it was a class,education thing with these hooligans but in Chelsea's case it was just scum bags who were middle or upper middle class being used as a tool against decent working class fans. Millwall and West Ham did and still have a lot of ecnomically disadvantaged fans but with the latter I least I know a lot of them and they are decent, honest, law abiding folks. Not the rough houses the media portray.
Ray Said
17 Posted 14/10/2020 at 18:51:05
I always remember in the 80's a fair number of their fans at Goodison waving 20 quid notes and shouting the Harry Enfield catchphrase ' loadsamoney'. They had a hard core of very organised, ultra right wing supporters encouraged and supported by Ken Bates their chairman at the time. They always reminded me of the Italian Ultra mobs -organised and influential with the club owners.
John Skelly
18 Posted 14/10/2020 at 20:32:46
Have a different story about an away game in London mid eighties QPR to be specific, queueing up to get into the ground I stepped off the pavement and was shouted at by an irate police man my reply was less than polite as you can imagine, he asked to see my ticket which he duly took from me a proceeded to rip it up walked to a gate of the stadium and placed it into a bin on the inside.

I was gobsmacked but then noticed a more senior officer inside the gate and explained my situation to him, he suppricingly ask me to point out the constable responsible which I did, on doing so he called the constable over told him to go into the bin and retrieve my ticket and give it back to me. I genuinely thanked the senior officer but ask him why it had happened his reply was most of the police were from outside the met just doing some overtime and all were shit scared of that duty so tried to ask tough bless em.
Niall McIlhone
19 Posted 14/10/2020 at 21:45:48
Stephen. A really evocative account of some bad times, thank you and bully for you for fighting your case. I made many away trips in the 70’s and 80’s, narrowly avoided a stabbing at Ayresome Park, Hasd a bad beating at a Cup game in Cardiff and being corralled by the Met at-where else- London Bridge station en route to Millwall in the 1-1cup game where Timmy Cahill equalised.,
Mike(10) you make some very pertinent observations also: Like many teenagers of the 70’s growing up in a messed up GB, it did not take much for me to question a lot of the things we were brought up to respect, as a lot of police I encountered outside of the north west appeared to me to be in the wrong job.
London was always bad. I doubt you might need to be able to tie your bootlaces or eat without drooling to join the Met Police the 70’s and hating northerners appeared to be a base requirement.
Everton FC has been a constant throughout my life for good or bad. That said, I must admit to some perverse good memories of 1970’s hooliganism. Like, for example, teaming up with Stoke fans at Euston to defend against teeming hoardes of random Cockneys looking for aggro. Those Stoakies are no mugs, believe me.
Peter Mills
20 Posted 14/10/2020 at 21:48:30
Good article, reflecting some of the issues travelling away in the 70s and 80s. The FA Cup tie at Cardiff 1977 was a bit shady after the match.

On a lighter note, I travelled alone in a dodgy van to the match at QPR later that year. It broke down just off the A4/M4, I was stranded on a slip road. A couple of guys approached me, stuck a Met Police badge against my window, which I wound down. “What you doing down here in a van with a scouse reg?” “I’m just trying to get to the match at QPR to see Everton, I’ve driven a long way”. “Fahkin ‘ell, you’re going to miss the kick off if you stay here. We’ll give you a push”.

They did. We won 5-1.

Paul Birmingham
21 Posted 14/10/2020 at 22:16:17
Stephen, thanks for your story and I was there too, and the account you gave is spot on.

It was going off well before the match, on the tubes, ambushes, and at HSK, in particularly, and well and truly, set by Chelsea, and after the game it got worse.

I was done by a plain closed copper with hit me with no reason on the forehead with a knuckle duster, from the edge of the platform to my left.

I had one of those cartoon bumps and black eyes for about two weeks. Needless to say, my Mum was shocked and concerned and my Dad, was happy I got back. I figured by going the Royal, I’d have got into further bother, and it was a good choice, as it turned out.

The platform was chocka, and people couldn’t believe I didn’t go down, but, as I said to the cowardly shit house, is that the best you can do.

That changed the tone and we, my brother and a few mates got in his face and he vanished into the mire, but the pictures of the coppers were et he’d in our minds.

It was noticeable that there was an off duty Everton fan ( who we found out was a copper) and she didn’t bat an eyelid nor would condone the police behaviour. May be she was worried for her, job.

PC plod123, was the, answer, he gave when asked his name and rank.

And so we worked on the investigation, with a CID, from BTP, called Dave, a welsh copper, whom proved to be some help in the months that followed.

The lad who got hit and cut was Gerry O, and we picked up on this encounter many times over the years, that passed on away games.

At Knights Bridge CC, the coppers got suspended sentences and within two years had them annulled, or whatever the legal term is.

I was asked to go down to witness this, so I told Dave, what a waste of time and money, and the justice system, was bent and corrupt, and he, couldn’t disagree.

No surprises there, then. The background goes back to the 1970s, and 1978,in particular, I remember as a young lad at Earls Crt, before the game, and various incidents, over the years, and in1984, the first away match, on a Friday night, I was there too.

When they beat us 4-3, at GP, I recall Gordon Davis, getting a couple, or may be a hatrick for Chelsea, Everton, were again on a mission, and so it was, another battle, and every season, the war went on.

Everton, had a mission and accomplished it. Let’s say it was regular battles.

The aftermath of this was in 1987, when Chelsea had to walk back to Edgehill.

Another day of “Infamy”, and the sagas continued.

Funny how many of us on here drank in the working men’s club, near the ground, and at the Chelsea Potter.

In later years we went to pubs a few stops away.

Definitely very dangerous times going the away match in the 1970s and 1980s.

The injustice then and treatment of football fans, hasn’t changed that much, and stereo typing, of football fans, of all parts of the country, is still evident.

It does prove too that in them days you couldn’t, or rarely get fair justice, when dealing with the police.

In some ways with modern technology, there’s not the trouble there used to be, but it still happens, but those were those days.

But more important matters at stake with the COVID19, as this second wave, looks like it’s doing deep, long lasting damage.

All stay safe and well.

Tim Constable
22 Posted 14/10/2020 at 22:28:13
I grew up in the south of England during the 80's, however with passionate socialist Labour supporting parents, campaigning every 4 years for Kinnock to finally topple Thatcher. I was brought up to believe in the same values and have pretty much stuck to them as I approach my 40th birthday.
I have seen and heard with my own eyes the attitude of some (not all) living in the south towards anyone north of Milton Keynes and it really disappoints me. Frustratingly though, whenever I make the trip to Goodison and my accent is noticed, I can see an assumption is made of me that I share these same views of any self respecting right wing cockney! I wouldn't be sitting in the Gladys Street if I did.

Although I had watched Everton in London several times before, my first trip to Goodison was in the earlier 90's to watch Everton and Chelsea play out an awful 0-0 draw. Bizarrely, in order to get myself safely back to Lime Street after the game, I had to latch onto a small group on Chelsea fans who shall we say fitted their stereotype perfectly. This was after I had been identified by some Everton fans as not being local and was clearly a target for them as I was followed along Everton Valley. I was grateful for Chelsea on that day.

John Skelly
23 Posted 14/10/2020 at 23:08:10
All comments bring back memories from many years of following the blues away.

I was a loner went and returned on my own steam, Stoke's police were bad, not Stoke supporters. The semi-final against West Ham at Villa Park was an eye-opener, I think Kidd missed a sitter. Leaving the ground was pure violence, both sets of fans squared up outside the ground... on the order that no one runs, it became just bizarre chaos.

I personally did not run, I just walked rather quickly in the opposite direction.

Anyway, on to the replay at Elland Road, I hitched as usual on the East Lancs Road got to the ground. We were in the kop and the game was crap,

Nearing the end of the game, one has to think of getting home, but chancing a look over the West Ham end, I noticed a swathe of Leeds supporters perched on a hill behind. I mentioned this to an older fan beside me; his reply was "No worries, son, they're here with us to twat them southern bastards." So, in the end, I got home safe again with my thumb.

Stephen Vincent
25 Posted 14/10/2020 at 23:50:35
Paul, good to know that the memory hasn't entirely deserted me! Good to know as well that Gerry is still about.

We must have met at some point, do you remember the police club in London, where they used to hold us for hours while we were waiting to be interviewed?

I'm pretty sure that the Dave you mentioned is the Inspector from the Glamorgan force who ran the independent investigation, he at least was a decent bloke. I didn't know that some of the convictions had been overturned. That is bad news. In fact, devastating.

None of the original work was down to one person. In fact, had I been on my own, I am pretty sure that it would never have reached court. The level of indirect pressure was enormous. Nothing that you could make a case over, but just being kept waiting hours to make a 5-minute statement. The innuendo and ridicule when you did get to make a statement. The number of times you had to repeat the same thing over and over again. I very nearly lost a good job through it all.

The lads that I have the most respect for are the ones who came to London time and time again from all over the UK. I could walk from the office.

The whole thing was a team effort, we all encouraged each other to keep going.

Andy McNabb
26 Posted 15/10/2020 at 03:39:18
Wow - that brought back some memories. Thanks for the read, Stephen.

At the time, I was living in the capital and I was at that game. There were many other unpleasant experiences in London to go with that one, including getting chased by Police dogs (how can they tell the difference between various supporters?) and hearing thousands of Chelsea 'fans' gathering round the back of the away end when I was there as a neutral to watch Tottenham.

I have lived in all sorts of places through out my life and I swear, my ability to replicate various accents at football matches on numerous occasions was all that stood between me and a good kicking.

Sheesh - it was rough back then.

Paul Birmingham
29 Posted 15/10/2020 at 08:23:06
Good to reminise Stephen,. Yes I recall also going to the BTP building at Tavistock Place on various occasion prior to the hearing at KCC.

Next time your up or I'm down the smoke, we can try and arrange a pint. In them days, my brother worked down the smoke and had a good sketch of the place, I worked down there from 1986, for a good while, and also got the sketch and where and when not to go, even on non-match days.

One thing out of it, many people involved became very good friends and some are still around.

For me, the preseason friendlies were always an odyssey and a blast, but away trips to the smoke, and most away grounds, then, were always a risk, such were the times then.

All take care and stay safe and let's hope there's some positive news on the injury front today.

Barry Rathbone
30 Posted 15/10/2020 at 13:25:51
We travelled via unmarked car or van because of this sort of stuff. No colours, no eating or drinking near the ground, and away as soon as the game finished. Great football played in Beirut conditions.

The "scouse" thing is self-inflicted; the penchant for showing off irresponsibly by a loud minority carries on to this day. Dickheads partying in the street putting, 2 fingers up to Covid measures being the latest example.

Nicholas Ryan
31 Posted 15/10/2020 at 17:35:33
As to the Met and their attitude to Scousers: I was in a pub in Ealing before the 1986 Everton/Liverpool FA cup final at nearby Wembley. There were fans from both teams there.

Although there hadn't been the slightest whiff of trouble, a vanload of uniformed bobbies came in and started throwing people out. With us, was my mate's girlfriend who was Indian. She asked politely what was going on and was told to 'Shut up you [reference to colour] bitch.

Cool as a cucumber, she said: 'Constable, I think you may come to regret that.' 'Why Bitch?' asked the PC ... 'Because I outrank you', she said, as she pulled out her warrant card, showing her to be a Sergeant in Special Branch!!

Tony Abrahams
32 Posted 15/10/2020 at 19:36:15
Without making excuses for anyone, Barry, I'd say what went on the other night in Liverpool would have mostly been students who are living away from home.
Kieran Kinsella
33 Posted 15/10/2020 at 19:58:53
Tim 22

Sorry for your experience. With a Southern accent, I never had a bad experience.

The one time I did feel uneasy was when my mate insisted I go with him to watch the RS play Celta Vigo. We were in the Kop when he decided it was hilarious to announce to everyone that I was an Everton fan. If looks could kill.

Luckily, nothing came of it. Just very uncomfortable for 90 minutes especially at full time when the RS were eliminated on aggregate. Hard not to smile.

Mick Davies
34 Posted 17/10/2020 at 15:43:33
As already mentioned, the first game of the 78-79 season at Stamford Bridge was horrendous; I've been all over with the blues and seen all sorts of violence, but that day, at Fulham Broadway was the first time I'd ever been really frightened at a match.

The Chelsea fans were like savages, throwing fire extinguishers through the tube train windows and wading in with iron bars and whatever else they could find. The train floors were covered in blood and every single window was shattered.

I somehow managed to sneak out and make it to safety but there was violence all around the ground. Back at Euston, it was like the arrival of the Dunkirk evacuees arriving at Dover: everyone had horror stories and most had injuries and blood-soaked clothing... and we were the lucky ones. A few were in hospital and didn't get home for a few days.

Keith Dempsey
35 Posted 18/10/2020 at 13:05:55
On a lighter note the the week before the 2009 semi final against Utd we played Villa away on a Sunday, me and a couple of mates went for a couple of pints just outside the ground, had nothing on us to identify us as blues so qe felt ok but I noticed two blokes with their girlfriends paying us some attention and suddenly the girls face tured to a panic look and she was urgently reaching for her coat pocket and as she reached for her phone her ring tone kicked in and guess what Z cars blasted out my initial reaction was to join ranks although it would have been a lost cause when as one the villa fans started to join in with the tune. Afterwards I asked the girl why she was looking over to us ad she explaied she had seen me at Goodison and guessed we were blues. Incidently the game was 3-3, Fellaini and Cahill 2 I think.

Don Alexander
36 Posted 20/10/2020 at 20:00:52
Police brutality pre CCTV and camera phones was endemic in mass gatherings. They did it under "The Ways and Means Act" and the authorities nearly always looked the other way, in effect encouraging it. I really admire the stance of the author and others who stuck to their principles.

Thatcher's "managed decline" of the city and wider region was quite apparent to very many Scousers in the 80's. That it was decades later confirmed by government papers was a welcome shock though. Unfortunately though I believe the disclosure of such appalling papers again, on anything, is unlikely.

With Tories it's always "them" - the vast majority, and "us" - the public-school "educated" wealthy, and it's for that reason I abhor our Sir Phillip Carter stand. If he'd have gone any further up Thatcher's arse he'd have emerged from her gob.

Martin Mason
37 Posted 20/10/2020 at 20:17:33
Don, your description of Conservatives is a million miles out. True Conservatives ( especially working class ones like me) are true socialists unlike the red version and only they and a regulated capitalist system can deliver British socialism. The only difference between Blue and Red is that the Blue believe that people themselves have some responsibility in reaching their potential and that the state should have far less. Thatcher oversaw the largest transfer of wealth from poor to Rich ever seen with privatisation, share sales and council house sales and the concept that she initiated a policy of managed decline of Liverpool is laughable if it weren't so tragic that some actually believe it. She was urged to by Cabinet and she did the opposite.
Stephen Vincent
38 Posted 20/10/2020 at 21:56:32
God Martin, how deluded are you. Wouldn't even know where to start?
Don Alexander
39 Posted 20/10/2020 at 23:28:32
Thanks for that Martin (#37). Very interesting. How's life going as president of the Rod Belfitt Appreciation Society by the way?
Jerome Shields
40 Posted 21/10/2020 at 22:48:44
Martin#37

Actually what Thatcher done was deindustrialised the UK and turn it into a service economy. Large swathes of that type of industry was replace by industrial goods from further fast growing emerging economies. Competing economy like Germany kept all theirs and will decide and sign off what the UK will get in Brexit.

The Council house revolution you describe gave the buyers a mortgage, which they in alot of cases cashed in making a profit on the discounted original price and then took on a larger mortgage on a house which they now have cleared ready for their Nursing home to take for their care. It also increased rental and poor standard housing, larging resulting in a increase in housing benifit.

The Privatisation shareholders revolution resulted in a quite cash in. The last privatisation resulted in losing of money. The percentage that own share now from these new shareholders is miniscule. Any money they made was a drop in the ocean compared to the increasing costs they experienced in utility services.

The North Sea bonanza went to pay for a massive increase in the benefit system, particularly DLA which was relatively easy to get into the to being swamped by people whose health deteriorated as a result of unemployment and the Thatcher government manipulating the unemployment figures. Setting in place a expotiential growing benefit system structure that will be abused by 5% of those that claim, increasing exponentially as well. Which is close to all inhabitants of the UK in some form or other, with a Thacther like press pushing untrue widespread abuse.


The economy changed to a City Finance non productive economy which derived most of its income internationally and inflated profits off shore as exchange controls where abolished.

All totally different than your retribution of wealth and Thatchers Captilust utopia bullshit.

Not attacking you as a true conservative Martin, but have a rethink of the Thatcher era what describe was nothing more than hollow spin, and nothing like the honourable principles you believe in and which I respect you to have.

Paul Washington
41 Posted 22/10/2020 at 18:19:02
Mick #34
I was at that Chelsea game in 78 just left school and went with mates on special, that ambush at Kensington High St. Was well organised and as you say the special home was full of casualties.

I got separated going into away end and had to get through the Chelsea to the Everton pen they all seemed to be skins whilst we had straight jeans and Adidas trabs, I was attracting unwanted attention and asked a PC to escort me through to be told "fak off ya baby"!!
Jack Cotter
42 Posted 24/10/2020 at 12:11:15
Enjoyed that, Stephen - thanks. A step back in time.

The notion of 'managed decline' is an interesting one. Cabinet papers showed that the suggestion, by Lord Howe, was part of a wider point he was making about the distribution of scarce resources across all the cities hit by riots. Piss-poor choice of words, mind.

Cabinet papers show that Michael Heseltine and numerous other cabinet ministers argued vehemently against the notion and that Thatcher dismissed it out of hand. She despatched Heseltine to Liverpool and he rang Thatcher to report back his findings. Among his other observations, Cabinet papers went on to note: "Mr Heseltine considered the behaviour of the police in Liverpool 8 to be quite horrifying. They were not acting in a racialist fashion. They treated all suspects in a brutal and arrogant manner."

Those of us of a certain vintage will recall what a cuddly chap the Chief Con at the time, Sir Kenneth Oxford, was. And we still doff our caps at the redoubtable Margaret Simey, too, who seemed to make it her later life's work to hold him firmly to account.

Such was Heseltine's commitment to the city that it was a Labour administration that awarded him the freedom of the city in March 2012.

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