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YouTube football hooligans: Best videos to learn more about fan culture

Football hooligans. Are they a misinterpreted group of people, or are they a menace to society and the footballing world? Well, without delving into their lifestyle and seeing why they do what they do, you can’t answer that question.

We have all seen the films, Football Factory and Green Street, which elevated football hooligans to a new type of stardom in the eyes of some football fans, while just highlighting their unnecessary aggression and need for violence at football matches to others. However, they were just films, pieces of fiction that were put together based on some real-life accounts. Secondary sources are what they are called in the journalism world.

Best videos to watch to learn about football hooligans

There are places to get a real look into the world of football hooligans and it is as simple as searching it on YouTube. While books are plentiful from football hooligans turned authors like Case Pennant, former Inner-City Crew, a West Ham United firm, YouTube can be a great way to see for yourself what it is all about. So, here are the best videos and channels to watch when learning about the fan culture of football hooligans.

The Real Football Factories

Anderlecht's hooligans use fireworks during a soccer match between RSC Anderlecht and KRC Genk
Anderlecht's hooligans use fireworks during a match between RSC Anderlecht and KRC Genk | Photo by Icon Sport

The Real Football Factories was a series that saw EastEnders Danny Dyer travel around the UK, speaking to real football hooligans, mainly the top boys of each club’s football firm.

Named The Real Football Factory due to Dyer's starring role in the hit film The Football Factories, he takes a deep dive into the world of football hooligans, talking with some of the hardest men and finding out why they did what they did at football matches.

There were interviews with West Ham’s Inner City Crew member Case Pennant, Chelsea headhunter top boy Jason Marriner and those from other club firms such as Arsenal, Spurs, Luton, Millwall, Manchester United, Manchester City, Aston Villa, and Birmingham. He also ventured up north across the border to Scotland to visit Old Firm, Aberdeen, Hibernians, and Hearts fans, whilst finding out the remarkable fact that the two Dundee clubs (Dundee and Dundee United) share a firm. 

It's an eye-opener into the lives of these people who were in the thick of it when football hooliganism was at its peak in the '70s and '80s.

Channel 4 Short Documentary – Is cocaine fuelling a new era of football violence?

Crowd trouble escalates between fans of Reading and Peterborough United during the Sky Bet League 1 match at the Select Car Leasing Stadium, Reading Picture by Graeme Wilcockson/Focus Images/Sipa USA | The sight of football hooligans and YouTube football hooliganism
Photo by Icon Sport

If you are looking at a more modern outlook on football hooliganism and why it is still around, then this documentary by Channel 4 is also available on YouTube. 

Not only does it explore the world of football hooligans, with more modern names involved, but it delves into the deep-rooted drug problem that lies within it, and asks the question, are drugs to blame for this violence at football matches? 

Whilst no one has ever doubted or denied that drug taking was part of the culture, it is still refuted by football hooligans that it is the reason why they fight and resort to violence, with most stating that football itself is their drug and is what gives them the adrenaline to do what they do. It is an interesting watch, one particularly for those with an interest in social psychology.

Football Fight Club

An interesting documentary that aired on BBC Three nine years ago and can now be viewed in full on YouTube is The Football Fight Club. It shows that, although nearly a decade has passed, football hooliganism was well and truly still alive in the '00s and onwards. 

With interviews from young and old football hooligans, it is interesting to hear why these men got involved in such a violent culture and they think it will never die.

In some fascinating interviews, some have worn masks to hide their identities, it is a hard-hitting documentary, but one that gets to the nitty, gritty of the murky underworld of football hooligans, comparing the fan culture to that of the now, multi-billion pound business that football has become. It shows that no matter how much money is involved in football, there will still be that element of the working class in the game. 

One particular focus in this hour-long video is that of Manchester City, who at the time had only begun their dominance after being bought by the UAE-backed consortium. Whilst that was happening, their firm of football hooligans were still fighting in alleyways and streets around the Etihad, showing the huge contrast between the world of elite football and the world of a football hooligan.

TalkSPORT – Why is football violence increasing?

TalkSPORT took to YouTube and teamed up with The Times reporter Matt Lawton to attend an FA Cup match between Nottingham Forest and Leicester City to reveal the truth behind the increased disorder at football matches. Recently the Daily Mail released an article which shows that arrests at football matches are at their highest level for nine years. During the 2022-2023 football season, there were over 2,000 arrests which is the highest figure recorded since 2013-2014.

Another point made by each football firm is that they are not out to harm innocent people and only fight other football firms.

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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