Book Review: Everywhere We Go – Hooligan Series Book One by Dougie and Eddy Brimson

Dougie and Eddy Brimson’s first book of their Hooligan series sets out to explain the phenomenon of football hooliganism; “who causes violence, why, how and when they do it; about what can be done and by whom to try and stop it” and it is also a robust defence of football fans against lazy journalism and stereotyping.

It delivers on all those points and more, but if you want imagery or Cantona-esque philosophy you’ve got off at the wrong tube station. Check over your shoulder for the spotters from the local mob and quickly head back to home turf.

However, if you stick it out on rival territory what you will find is a knowledgeable account of the experience of the football fan and the hooligan following their team home and away and being subjected to the heavy, prejudiced and uninformed hand of the police, media and the FA.

They try to explain that the catalyst that turns a fan into a hooligan can be an instantaneous and unexpected emotion rather than a predisposition and that hooligans and fans both care passionately about their club and its reputation; the difference being that one is on the field and the other is off it.

Their arguments are cogent and, despite their personal experiences, the authors are careful not to glorify the violence and, for every type of hooliganism they recollect, they also provide practical solutions to the problem that should embarrass those promoting knee-jerk reactions in today’s newspapers nearly 17 years later.

I’m reviewing a book written in 1996 under the lights of my 2012 Christmas tree, 2 months after the latest Hillsborough Enquiry found South Yorkshire Police largely culpable for the disaster, 6 weeks after one of my team’s fans shoved over an opposition goalkeeper in his own 6 yard box, the national team captain recently found guilty by the FA of racially abusing a fellow professional and racist abuse of players regularly in the headlines. It’s easy to conclude that much of the authors’ judgement of police, fans and the future of hooliganism is unerringly accurate. Which, given the enormous changes experienced by the game and its supporters since this book was written, is a significant achievement.

Of course, because it was written when the early-90s modernisation of the game was relatively fresh there are, what today may seem anachronistic views; longing for “male-dominated environment we grew up in and fell in love with” and a naïve view of what is and isn’t racist, but there is more than enough forward thinking elsewhere in the book to let these pass as “of-the-time”.

I haven’t yet read the rest of their series; I will in the New Year, confident that I may not agree with their opinion of fighting as a rite of passage nor the significance of the activities of football hooligans – my experience (as a fan of a notoriously supported team in the 70s and 80s) was that, for every fight there were 100 stand-offs where badly-dressed youths bounced around in front of opposing gangs, inviting them to a fight and backing off when they advanced, only for the scene to recur until everyone involved presumably got bored and went to the pub to exaggerate about it. But I will undoubtedly respect the knowledge and common-sense that the authors bring to the debate that they correctly predicted will continue to this day.

If only their judgement of what constitutes “the most famous diving header of all time” was as perceptive. Even up North we had TVs by the time of the 1972 FA Cup Final. No excuses.


Paul Gowland

Book Review: Wings of a Sparrow by Dougie Brimson

As football fans we love our club with a passion. We also have by tradition, rivals; the team we love to hate, the one that we love to see struggle, the one that by beating brings boundless joy and local bragging rights. But what would you do if you found yourself in charge of the enemy, as Chairman of your bitterest rivals?

In his latest offering Wings of a Sparrow, Dougie Brimson uses this unusual premise as the main stay of the plot. Central character Rob Cooper is a fanatical United fan, and editor of the club fanzine Wings of a Sparrow. His beloved team play in the Championship whilst “…the scummers…” City struggle along playing in League Two. Through an inheritance, Cooper finds himself thrust into the position of City Chairman along with a luxury lifestyle and six million pounds. However, before he can get his hands on the money, Cooper is hit with a clause that causes a massive dilemma. In order for Rob, his wife Jane and son Charlie to have a millionaire fuelled future, City have to better the points total of the previous season. Suddenly, Rob is weighed down with a choice between sticking to his tribal football instinct and destroying his nemesis or seeing them thrive through his endeavours and so provide a future for his family of indulgence and extravagance.

Brimson brings all his knowledge as a football aficionado to the table and provides an authentic voice through Rob in both in terms of the support of your team and of them. Throughout the book, the tone and language is unashamedly Brimson at his bloke-ish best and with comedy that has the satirical and waspish tones and observations of Tom Sharpe. However, don’t think that this is just another geezer’s tale and the world of football. As the book develops the emotional journey for Rob and his family is interwoven with the fortunes of City and is convincingly portrayed, adding a bittersweet thread to the story. Yes this book is comedic, yes football provides the backdrop, but ultimately it is about what doing what we believe to be right. Looks like another winner from the Brimson stable.


Top Ten Football Books – Dougie Brimson

Dougie Brimson sums himself up on his website as, “…author, screenwriter, commentator, bloke…” and these four words provide an insight into the talents of the man. Brimson spent 18 years in the Royal Air Force, including action in the Falklands War and first Gulf War, before penning his first book in 1996 with Everywhere We Go, which has become something of a cult classic. His years involved in football hooliganism provided an insight that gave that book and subsequent work a very real edge and understanding. Nowadays, Brimson is considered a leading commentator and voice in anti-violence and anti-racism campaigns and has worked with governments in both the United Kingdom and Europe in their work against football disorder.

Since that first step into the literary world, Brimson has been a prolific author producing the following books, England, My England: The Trouble with the National Football Team (1996), Capital Punishment: London’s Violent Football Following (1997), Derby Days: Local Football Rivalries and Feuds (1998), The Geezers’ Guide to Football: A Lifetime of Lads and Lager (1998), The Crew (1999), Billy’s Log (2000), Barmy Army: The Changing Face of Football Violence (2000), Top Dog (2001), Eurotrashed: The Rise and Rise of Europe’s Football Hooligans (2003), Kicking Off: Why Hooliganism and Racism Are Killing Football (2006),  Rebellion: The Growth of Football’s Protest Movement (2006), March of the Hooligans: Soccer’s Bloody Fraternity (2007) and The Art of Fart: The joy of flatulence (2011).

As a screenwriter he is best known for his screenplay for the award winning film Green Street (2005) which stared Elijah Wood, Charlie Hunnam, Claire Forlani and Leo Gregory.

Dougie Brimson is a busy ‘bloke’ and has numerous projects he is working on, including a new book, Wings of a Sparrow and a number of screenplays. Therefore, it was a real privilege that he agreed to take some time out to select his favourite top ten football books, which are listed below:

  1. Left Foot Forward: A Year in the Life of a Journeyman Footballer – Garry Nelson
  2. The Lost Babes: Manchester United and the Forgotten Victims of Munich – Jeff Connor
  3. Guvnors: The Autobiography of a Football Hooligan Gang Leader – Michael Francis with Peter Walsh
  4. All Played Out: The Full Story of Italia ’90 – Pete Davies
  5. Got, Not Got: The A-Z of Lost Football Culture, Treasures and Pleasures – Derek Hammond and Gary Silke
  6. A Season With Verona: Travels Around Italy in Search of Illusions, National Character and Goals – Tim Parks
  7. Manchester United Ruined My Life –  Colin Schindler
  8. How Soccer Explains the World: An Unlikely Theory of Globalization – Franklin Foer
  9. Dynamo: Defending the Honour of Kiev – Andy Duggan
  10. Enjoy the Game: Watford Football Club – The Story of the Eighties – Lionel Birnie


More details about the work and the man himself can be found on his website,, and where you can download for free, two of his most successful titles, The Crew and Everywhere We Go.