Welcome to the 'violence' room. Relax as it is safe! The features to run in this room will come from people who have given or received violence either in a domestic setting or through social activity. All sections of the community are prone to either witness, be a victim or perpetrator of violence...in fact human evolution owes it's current form to acts of violence against its predators and has been used throughout ancient history as a control mechanism, The Romans, The Conquistadors, The American Indians also experienced such action and in our own history the invasions by the Saxons, Vikings and right up to date with the recent announcement of a class action involving staff at Wormwood Scrubs and arguably the recent 'war' against Iraq. So violence is acceptable as a form of 'order' but it has limitations within general civil societies and its people looking to live an ordinary violent free life. It is these boundaries that will be explored here.
I decided to kick off this room with the topical Football Hooligan debate and how does Cambridgeshire fair. I qualify to comment on such a subject as i was a 'hooligan' in the mid to late '70s which was the peak period for such activity in this County. I have positive relationships with most sections of the footballing fraternity within Cambridgeshire and Cambridge United has been the team i have supported proudly since arriving here in 1975 aged nearly 15 and have many friends involved in all areas of the club. Peterborough United i have developed positive relationships with from the fan base, management to board level in recent years and have been able to make a current assessment of any activity organised or impromptu in both ends of the Shire. I also have had in depth involvement with the Colts league teams throughout Cambridgeshire and have had feed back from all corners that could be deemed as potential growth areas for a re surgence of football hooliganism within this County. I can assure you that Cambridge does not have a problem! Peterborough due to its more industrious base and population make up does attract a larger support for their team and therefore does have more potential than Cambridge for such a problem to exist and upon receiving feed back from those who know...it is sporadic but containable in a typical match.
Why can i be so sure Cambridge is 'hooligan free'? To justify it i need to explain the history. Upon arrival in Cambridge i started to go to the matches with the local friends i had made. Within weeks i had established myself within a social circle known as the Abbey Riot Squad (A.R.S)...the 'fighters' representing CUFC at the time. Around 25 could be counted on at a maximum but generally was left to 10-15 to be the main instigators or defenders of any violent activity. My role amongst them was as lead singer which i enjoyed enthusiastically whilst suspended in the rafters of the Abbey! The Abbey Riot Squad travelled the country visiting grounds in the then 4th, 3rd and finally 2nd divisions mainly through Ron Atkinsons reign in which CUFC achieved rapid consecutive promotion. However...upon arriving in the 2nd division and being swamped first day of the season by i think Stoke City fans when for the first time we 'lost' our 'end' through sheer numbers before we'd even got into the ground....being the minority in your own 'territory' became a humbling experience...each home game! In 1978 an organised fracas surfaced over a several week period which involved 23 of the Abbey Riot Squad members. It was not in fact a football related incident but it was the catalyst in the 'organisation' becoming defunct. The outcome of the fracas was that 22 of 'us' were given custodial sentences at St Albans Crown Court on February 5th 1979. As i was considered the 'instigator' and organiser of the 'riot' which was reduced to unlawful assembly at trial, then i received the longest sentence handed out which was 2, 2-5 year borstal service sentences to run concurrent. That sent me on a journey through the penal system for which i am grateful! Some of the 'names' involved in that original offence after serving short term sentences returned home and continued albeit in a smaller group and went on to infamy. The most widely known still today is Les Muryani a.k.a 'the general'. Les is currently serving a sentence for drug related crimes however back then we were just lads having a 'laff'. Les's infamy came about when in mid 1980 Cambridge United faced Chelsea at the Abbey and a full scale battle ensued in which the hardcore members of the original A.R.S partook. The system had had its belly full of hooliganism and this case was used by the judiciary to warn the nation of future conduct and its consequences. Les along with many others were given 5 years and the like which ended Cambridge Uniteds 'organised' hooligan era.
Those 2 events had different impacts on us all. From the original offence in '79 some of the 22 have never been seen to this day. Others settled down to raising families and in fact a couple of them are much respected businessmen today. The remnants of the A.R.S which now number about 5 do on occasion make trips to away games for a trip down memory lane and a beer. I have seen them at one or two matches this season and we have comradeship based friendship going back to those times 24 years ago. It wasn't all bad back then, we socialised for nearly 3 years as a 'gang' and for most of that time there was happy times between us all and many stories gathered but like all good things...they came to an end.
Violence did not stop for me upon imprisonment. During the initial 2 months i experienced more directed violence towards me than i had ever experienced during the previous 3 years trekking the country as a hooligan...and that violence came from the 'state'. Prison and related establishments back then were acceptable places for violence to reign. It was the regimes cornerstone. Each institution had its heirarchy and Gaynes Hall borstal was 'owned' and run by the Black population generally coming from London. Obviously 4 of us arriving from the riot with violent offences to our name were considered a formidable threat to the existing harmony. The 'screws' sat back and let happen whatever happened...and indeed bets were taken amongst officers as to what the outcome would be and how long we would last. Needless to say we were the outsiders. Within 6 weeks of arriving we had been picked off one by one leaving me until last. My reckoning came in a shower block one morning where i was greeted by 'Lewis and Nortley'...huge gold teethed characters with Lewis missing an eye which improved his aggressive look. Their introduction began...'you are not White...you are not Black...you are noffffink boy...take your dues'. 5 minutes later i was being dragged into the punishment block for what i perceived as self defence. Unfortunately the 'block screw' had just gone off his shift early as the block had been empty and was called back. I was in a state as Nortley and Lewis had been able to land their attack in places but i was now more fearful of what may happen next...and i was right to be.
I was stood to attention and was told i could only say my number whilst in the block...K66366. His footsteps echo cracked down the corridor as he approached my cell....the door opened....K66.....PUNCH.....that is as far as i got. For 3 days he performed his sadistic pleasure upon me. Morning noon and night meant a slap, punch or kick on each occasion he had to come to my cell to deliver food and water. Until then my previous experience of deliberate violence had been coming from my mother peaking with a broom being broke over my back aged 11 whilst being shouted at as a 'black B*stard' with my innocent reply 'well it's your fault'! All something i had endured as a child but this prolonged attack whilst in the block done by an officer...showed me the depths to which humanity can inflict terror on its own...and it was believable.
3 days of such treatment took its toll and upon exiting the block i was given 4 mogadon a day to keep me erm...dunno why i was given them...but i wasn't in control anymore that i knew. The governor rescued me. He had realised i was vulnerable and with his limited understanding and interest he assessed i needed help. An appointment was made for me to go to Grendon Underwood Psychiatric Prison near Aylesbury. On arrival i met Dr Jillett. He listened to me for an hour where i poured out my then lifes troubles which extended beyond the recent experiences in borstal. After the meeting he said he could help me as i was willing to help myself. The conditions to go to Grendon and benefit from the therapy and facilities was that i went voluntary and ignored my sentence and left when 'we' felt i could go forward confidently...however long it took irrelevant of sentence although once i had served my 'normal' time i was free to leave if i insisted. Basically i had done 3 months of my sentence in Wormwood Scrubs and Borstal and possibly could have been home in another 3...this new offer or life line meant delayed gratification, give up today what you want more of tomorrow. I spent the next 10 months eating up the environment and knowledge. When released in February '80 my original friends from the A.R.S when seeing me thought i had moved town as they had all been out for 6 months or so from that offence and in fact some had done another short sentence in between! No, that investment i made in myself was the best thing i could have done for my then girlfriend who is now my wife 25 years later and for my children who now enjoy a stable home life with their dad...something i never had.
My own story as far as hooliganism came to an end in Easter '80. I had served my time, 1 year and 2 days, and part of my 'therapy' was to place myself in the same environment as prior to my sentence to test my self confidence. It wasn't necessary, i went with the 'crew' to Great Yarmouth as it was a traditional visit at Easter by us all. Unbeknown to us, the Bristol Chapter Hells Angels had decided to sunbathe in Yarmouth the same week end. Fights broke out here and there during the day until it came to a head when the Angels stormed the Crows Nest pub with weapons and stabbed many of us. Richard Ellis who was the joker of the pack and wouldn't have been considered a 'fighter' was stabbed in the chest...he died there on the doorstep of the pub...RIP. That was the last time i chose to put myself in a situation that could cause harm to me or anyone else unnecessarily.....some therapy session.
I have not seeked directed violence since then and have not felt like the need to use any towards others. The source of my anger had come from frustration and a desire to belong somewhere as i had struggled with that emotion since aged 5. For me, a gang and comradeship harnessed that longing and stimulation came from alcohol which fuelled my anxiety and erupted during the ages 14-17. I removed the fuel when leaving prison and have not drunk alcohol as a stimulant since. Once again, i can assure you that the history laid out before you is put to rest and is only left in the memories of those that were there. Today Cambridge Uniteds 'hard core' home and away fans consists of a loose bunch of jolly and sincere people numbering around 15 and the thought of violence stemming from them is farcical and are amongst friends i have at the Abbey. In fact the lead singer who took my role 25 years later is a well mannered professional lad who would not say boo to a goose but would burst your eardrums if you got within earshot! The thought of him clinging from the rafters leading the chants is a terrifying one with visions of fire engines and ambulances bringing up the rear...to help him back to safety!! No...football hooliganism is not a concern in Cambridge today.......sleep well!
...oops...the screw?? I made an effort to see/look at him some years ago...he was in an old peoples home....playing the piano entertaining everyone. I was told by the Manageress his shoes are always kept nice and shiny....military like. I said he appeared to be an 'old soldier'...she said yes...you never know...some don't speak about their past....they don't like too. I said...'i'm sure'...as I shook her hand after we had concluded our business. I waved at him and smiled as i left.......and ain't give him a thought until writing this!x Violence....is choice. I choose life...first....X
To see how the above experiences have been put to good use go to
matso.tv football page
The next articles appearing in this room will revolve around domestic violence...beginning with an article from an individual...who suffered it for 18 years...and is now free...HIS name is Jordan...and he will be with you from next Thursday!
click the 'equaliser' to go back to the lounge.