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A Ruck of a Book,
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This review is from: The Crew (Paperback)
I thought I had an understanding of British soccer hooligans, but Dougie Brimson's "The Crew" is an in-depth novelization of the hooligan life and the police response to it. This topic seems to have dominated Brimson's writing career since 1997. Hooliganism is an odd-subculture of sport, which we we've only seen in diminutive form in the United States - small riots when teams win; small riots when they lose; the occasional fight at a baseball or football game. But British hooliganism, and European hooliganism as far as that goes, is fighting for the sake of fighting, territorialism in the extreme, more like American gang culture. Perhaps it's the popularity of football, the xenophobia of the hooligan class, and the geographical proximity but historical separation from Europe that makes British hooliganism abroad legendary. That's also what forms the framework for "The Crew." From street fights among hooligan crews in Britain, the book broadens out to fears of a hooligan invasion of Rome - on behalf of an Italian fascist group - to interrupt an England-Italy international match. With an informant inside a British hooligan crew, England's National Football Intelligence Unit (NFIU) works to reign in the hooligans, stop an international incident, and connect hooligan leader Billy Evans to an incident years earlier that resulted in the death of an NFIU officer and the near-fatal beating of NFIU Detective Paul Jarvis. Throughout the book, Jarvis and Evans match wits as the England-Italy match approaches. Brimson maintains the suspense throughout, from beginning to the surprising end. Don't worry if you don't like football (soccer); that's not what the book's about.