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Green Street Hooligans: Modern review of football fan film

One of the most famous football films, Green Street Hooligans is a 2005 movie about British football hooliganism. Nearly two decades on from its release, how does it stand up to review today?

Where can I see Green Street Hooligans?

Green Street can be watched on the streaming service Netflix. That’s if you subscribe to it of course. If you don’t, it is accessible on YouTube, though the quality is not nearly as good.

Is Green Street Hooligans based on a true story?

Football fans with flares, an activity often seen as 'hooligan'-like, but you won't see any flares in Green Street Hooligans
Photo by Icon Sport

Not necessarily, no. The bones of the story – the hooligan element – is very real. For example, the opening scene where West Ham’s firm, the GSC bumps into the Tottenham Hotspur hooligans, is something that has probably happened numerous times in London’s underground. However, the actual story of an American joining with the West Ham hooligans? That's a Hollywood story in an attempt to give the film depth and substance. It also allows some basic facts to be explained through his character.

A lot of what is in the film, the songs, the altercations, and the culture of how hooligans plan fights are close enough to the real thing.

But there has never been an account of an American running with West Ham’s hooligan firm, the Inner-City Firm, on whom the film is based on. 

 What is the story of the Green Street Hooligans?

West Ham United fans are the subject of the film Green Street Hooligans
Photo by Icon Sport

Matt (Elijah Wood) is an American journalism student who has just been expelled from Harvard after his roommate’s cocaine stash had been found in his closet. Unfortunately for Matt, his roommate comes from a high-class family who have connections so Matt has taken the fall. The situation allows him to visit his sister and her family in London, but this is where he meets Pete, the brother of his sister’s husband. Pete is ‘West Ham ‘Til He Dies’ and is the top boy of the Green Street Crew, West Ham’s hooligan firm. 

As circumstances have it, Matt is dragged along to a West Ham game with Pete. At first, the other lads are sceptical about the American’s presence, but after a run-in with the Birmingham Hooligans, ‘The Zulu’s’ where Matt stands his ground with the GSC lads, he earns their respect, except for one, ‘Bovver’.

As the story goes on, Matt gets himself more embroiled in the world of football hooliganism. But Bovver, who is still suspicious of Matt’s presence, finds out he is a journalist, a profession that is universally hated by all football hooligans. 

But after Pete stands by Matt, Bovver goes to the extreme and turns to his and the GSC’s arch-enemies, the Millwall Bushwhackers. He tells them where they can find, ‘The Major’, a former GSC Top Boy, who turns out to be Pete’s brother and Matt’s brother-in-law. The Major is blamed by the Bushwhacker’s head boy, Tommy Hatcher, for the death of his son at a fight that took place years ago.

In all the madness, West Ham draw Millwall in the FA Cup which escalates the whole situation.

After Bovver leads them to the pub where the GSC are having drinks, a riot breaks out, and ‘The Major’ gets his throat slit open, leaving him in hospital. Looking to exact revenge, Pete gets a large mob of GSC members together to fight the Bushwhackers at a remote location. 

As the fight breaks out, with both sides taking heavy beatings, the top boy of the Bushwhackers, Tommy Hatcher, ends up taking it too far and beats Pete to death after Pete causes a diversion to allow Matt and his sister to escape, after she turns up to try and stop Matt from taking part in the fight.

The end scene sees Matt confront his old roommate, getting him to confess that the drugs that were found were originally his. As he leaves the building with the confession, he walks down the road, singing ‘I’m Forever Blowing Bubbles’, the famous West Ham anthem.

Which football team do the hooligans support in the film Green Street?

West Ham United. In the film, they are known as the Green Street Crew or the GSC, but in real life, the West Ham firm is known as ‘The Inner-City Firm’. 

Why are Millwall called Bushwackers?

There is no real reason as to why the Millwall firm is called the ‘Bushwhackers’ other than it seems like a name to be feared. They used to be originally called the ‘F Troop’ before changing their name.

How many Green Street Hooligan movies are there?

There are three Green Street films in total, however many see the first as a standalone film and the only one to really watch and take seriously.

Is Green Street Hooligans worth watching?

While some of the scenes are a bit cheesy and ‘American’, the film itself is quite good and got great reviews when it came out in 2005. There is just enough action in it to keep it exciting, whilst explaining what a football firm is and how they operate. Compared to other films like this, The Football Factory is probably the only other film that comes close.

What is West Ham's firm called?

The Inner City Firm or the ICF for short is what the West Ham firm is called in real life. They are one of the most notorious football firms in England and have a huge reputation around Europe with other firms always trying to challenge them when they visit.

Who is the enemy in Green Street Hooligans?

Everybody. But if you were to pick one firm in particular then it would be the Millwall Bushwhackers. West Ham and Millwall have a long-standing history when it comes to their firms, with riots breaking out anytime they meet. Luckily for the authorities, it hasn’t happened all that often in recent years. 

Where was Green Street filmed?

The filming of it was done in London but released for a worldwide audience. In America, it was received with mixed reviews, with a lot of American soccer fans not understanding the concept, as football hooliganism is not a thing in the United States. 

Is Green Street accurate?

It is and it isn’t. It is loosely based on the Inner-City Firm, however, there are a lot of things in it that probably wouldn’t happen. The fighting and confrontation between rival hooligan firms are accurate enough, however, the scenes in which people are killed are not. There hasn't been a death related to football violence of this kind in England in recent years.

The Cockney language is reasonably accurate, but some of the accents are terrible. There's a great emphasis on cultural stereotypes, for good or for bad.

The biggest inaccuracy? We also highly doubt that anybody from the West Ham side would be doing a deal with the Millwall side.


Philip O'Rourke

Philip O Rourke is a Dublin-based journalist and author of Forgotten Football Clubs, 50 Clubs Around the World. He appears on the Forgotten Football Clubs podcast and, in his spare time, travels around Europe to different football stadiums, trying to watch as many different clubs as he can.

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